World´s Best Banks – Business Competitiveness Weekly Column – By Carlos R. Flores

World´s Best Banks

The prestigious newspaper The Telegraph of London, conducted a survey on the top 10 banks in 2014. Those leading the list have distinguished themselves in one simple trait: providing the best customer service.

This study shows public preferences that have allowed these institutions achieve service levels that make a customer choose to do business with a particular entity and not another, even abandoning his/her favorite bank. Loyalties became extinct.

First Direct is ranked in top of the list while Barclays, NatWest , HSBC, Lloyds and RBS were voted the worst in service.

The study also predicts that “Santander, TSB , The Co- operative Bank and Nationwide will outshine its competitors in customer service in 2015” mainly due to ongoing initiatives to provide better and innovative services and multi – channel solutions for its customers .

When one walks the practices that perform some of these financial institutions models to pamper their customers, you might think they are unheard, if not unthinkable for a business of this kind.

Imagine a bank that handles as close relationships with key customers that recognizes the anniversaries of relationship with the entity sending gifts, or that the chief executive called to wish you happy birthday, or you may receive flowers at a time of family pain.

The paradigm seeking the more competitive banks is no longer the shallow and conventional “customer satisfaction “; this being a concept that ceased to have meaning, because now pursuing “customer delight” in the new focus and not treat as simply “one would like to receive ” but offering to please as the best business partner.

Widely has known some banks had been hiring mostly good-looking personnel, from a aesthetical standpoint, or their front line service agents speaking extravagant accents like a South American soap opera. The culture of “beautiful but ineffective” or “robot model person” is fading-fast  as a hiring practice, now being replaced by more competent staff with social intelligence, thoroughly prospected from recruitment through selection being rigorously trained in customer delight.

As a matter of fact, some financial institutions are skewed on hiring staff with excellent skills in numeracy, though –agreeing this condition is central to the banking business– so is selecting people with skills and talents for personalized attention, because if these are not inborn, or are very low, unfortunately, they cannot be formed effectively.

You can train people to strengthen their numeracy skills, but is challenging uphill form enduringly social abilities such as warmth, interpersonal communication, positive psychology, and the old good trait of kindness.

8 variables do exist in the banking business as precursors for delighting or charming customers that is when you feel your most positive expectations were greatly exceeded.

The sense of urgency, short- time and effective problem resolution, the sense of empathic closeness, simplified paperwork, among others, are business imperatives for any financial business.

Some entities perform their own customer service surveys, however, these suffer from two congenital diseases: 1) They are conducted under a mindset of “groupthink” or self-complacent vision; 2) There is no in-depth root cause analysis for structural problem-solving on specific service incidents involving dissatisfied customers, therefore, most systemic factors will remain misaligned, like weeds.

Our seminar “Customer Delight for Financial Entities” this July 3rd, will provide your staff the skills and lessons learned from the best banks in the world in customer service.  Join us.

Carlos R. Flores

General Director


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