A few years ago, we decided to move our personal banking from one major bank to another. More recently we investigated the possibility of also moving our business banking over to another institution. We thought that the new institution would be a better fit for our future business requirements based on their excellent service, support and technology methods that we had observed from migrating our personal banking over to them a few years back.
One of the reasons we looked to change was due to our office move from the Toronto area to north of London, and the lack of branches of said former bank. But more importantly, the change was due to the previous institution’s lack of ability to understand small professional consulting firms like FOX GROUP Technology.
Unfortunately, the financial services industry still invests in small businesses that are brick and mortar, retail and/or sell hard goods and services. They have not figured out how to finance long-standing profitable knowledge-based businesses like technology management consulting.
We also decided that we wanted to be able to do more electronic transactions between our personal and business accounts, and did not want to continue to move between two different financial institutions, particularly with the low e-transfer funds limits, and the service charges associated with doing this weekly.
Using our own analysis tools
We decided we would use our own ePRO procurement tools to assess, analyze and select our next banking institution. If it worked for complex technology acquisitions, it could surely work for banking decisions, right? We followed our methodology and determined our requirements; we identified our decision criteria and weighting factors; analyzed the various products, services and fees, and finally chose our new financial institution.
Bad processes can trump good technology
That’s when the fun began. One would think that since the Canadian financial sector is one of the most digital-oriented environments in the world, this would be a relatively straightforward migration, and that it would take very little of our time during business hours. Not so. Each account, debit or credit card, financial service, i.e. credit line, overdraft protection, etc. had its own application form which required real time face-to-face signatures – from both of us.
It ended up that all of the financial products applications were not prepared for us to sign. They created the applications separately, i.e. chequing/savings, then credit/lending products. They determined their various credit capabilities based on the analysis of each of the numerous applications, financial reports and statements that they repeatedly asked us to create and email to them. (At least we knew what to provide them and could easily pull from our accounting system and email the various financial reports.)
Murphy got us big time
On top of this challenge, we ended up misplacing our new business debit accounts during our move and could not even access the new business accounts that had been set up. We contacted our new business account manager who had replacement cards couriered from his branch to a branch nearby to make it easy for us to both sign and pick up. We then went back to the office to try to activate the cards for on-line banking access, to no avail. We had repeated attempts working with seven different customer service and tech support staff at the financial institutions contact centres, support by our account manager trying to help us get the online accounts activated with the new replacement cards, and linked to our personal accounts.
Finally, earlier this week when I had a few moments of patience, I decided to try again. I contacted my branch account manager, who I reached live. He validated that from his systems perspective everything appeared to be as it should. We confirmed IDs, security settings (the ones that only they can set), and he encouraged me to call into the customer support centre.
Giving it one last chance
I called in to the customer service centre and used the voice activated speech response to get to tech support for the business area, and was able to very quickly reach a live person. Yeah! This person asked me a few questions (none of them repeats from previous called in attempts), and he also asked me to validate what I was trying to do from a business perspective. Systematically we went through all of the various account settings and requirements for both my access and my husband’s access for both personal and business accounts.
He didn’t even make me go find my husband to bring him on the phone as I was able to provide the required security information for his access as well. This person recognized that I was the primary account holder (clue, since the company had my name in it), and commented that it must be fun working with my spouse.
This person also asked me what our company did, and I explained that we have designed contact centre and national and global network solutions for financial institutions in the past, and that I had even been involved in the design of their first generation contact centre in the late 80/90s, as well as some of their international banking networks. We had a good chuckle about that, particularly when I mentioned some of the history related to how hard it was to get the original executives to spend the money on “phones” versus branches.
I also somehow ended up mentioning somehow that I ended up getting into technology as a career in the 80s after spending time fixing and working on various types of technology equipment for handicapped and disabled people through the March of Dimes in my former life. I commented about how I spend a lot of time on the phone, but more and more on video-based collaboration type applications, where I can “see” my clients on our monitors as well as share information easily as we work together across time and space.
By then he had identified the fields that had to be corrected and had me log in while I was on the phone with him to ensure that I was able to get access to all of the accounts I wanted with a single sign-on. Voila, I was successful. As I thanked him for his dedication, attention to detail and commitment to help ensure that I would be able to get access to everything, I said that it would have been much easier if we had been on a video call and he could have seen my computer screen. It was then that he chuckled and mentioned that he wouldn’t want to be on video due to the fact that he was blind, and that it wouldn’t help him do his job any better or easier.
He then described the various technology applications he uses to have the screen information read to him, and enable him to navigate through the various steps. We spent a few minutes sharing stories of how assisted applications have enabled customer service jobs to be available to visually and physically impaired people. I shared how as a part-time CIO for a Brampton-based Distress Centre, I had worked to replace legacy technologies and bring next generation VoIP and contact centre technology solutions that enables part-time volunteers to work from home and provide support to the contact centre.
Thinking about good customer service attributes that can apply to any business
When I hung up from the call, I looked at my bank screens and was very happy to see that the account and technology challenges had been sorted out and I would be able to get on with my business. I reflected to myself about this gentleman’s excellent customer service skills, listening ability and knowledge of the bank’s products, services and systems, and how he of all the people I had worked with was able to get things resolved.
Unfortunately, I did not ask for his name or employee number during our call, but I will make sure to tell the branch manager that it is due to people like that customer service rep that will enable me to continue to deal with this bank for my business and personal needs.
Moral of this story
The attributes that this gentleman showed during our call highlighted the fact that you can have all of the best technology in your business (and this institution has some of the best contact centre solutions deployed in Canada), as well as well-defined processes, with knowledgeable, well trained staff, but the success boiled down to the right attitudes and values of this gentleman who put it all together and solved my problems, and created a very positive experience from an initial bad one.
An important lesson for all of us…and guess what, by you reading this article, I will have told a lot more than 10 people about this good customer service journey and my experience.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback on this article, Roberta.Fox@FOXGROUP.ca