It’s all but impossible to find a bank that doesn’t claim to deliver high-quality customer service. Take just a few minutes to check the websites of every community, regional and national bank in your marketplace and see what each of them says about their commitment to customer service. You’ll find most of them singing the same song. Here are a few examples picked randomly from the mission statements of dozens of banks we examined: providing unmatched customer service, exceeding customer expectations, valuing every customer, providing exceptional customer service and our customers come first. Do all the institutions share a common level of customer service, or are some of them just talking the talk?

Legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight said, “Everyone wants to win and be a champion. But not everyone wants to do the work to prepare to win.”  You might ask yourself, are we simply saying we deliver great service or are we actually doing what it takes? During my review of the bank websites, one of the banks professing to deliver superior customer service had a pop-up window letting customers know which of their branches would no longer be open on Sundays. The reason for such closures could make good financial sense, but it was jarring and even contradictory to see the claim of outstanding customer service accompanied by a message about eliminating service hours.

Banks can find their claims of offering superior customer service backfiring on them if they don’t actively manage service delivery and continuous improvement. In our experience, many organizations primarily focus on the behavioral elements of, for example, delivering service with friendly and genuinely interested staff. Training the staff to be attentive and listen to customers’ needs is indeed, critically important, but that alone is not enough to satisfy the most highly desirable customers.

One way to examine your bank’s commitment to excellent service is to take stock of the way you manage service as a process. Is customer service integral in the planning process? Do you have metrics at every customer touch point, and are they reported at the same level as sales? Do you programmatically engage with and listen to your customers to gain an understanding of their changing needs? Do you have a methodology designed to make systemic improvements to your most routine and most complex processes to make the customer experience with your bank easy and pleasant? Have you measured the value of retaining exiting customers, and does it translate equal value to gaining new customers? Do you have a recovery process designed to make things right with your customers when mistakes happen? Do you benchmark yourself against service leaders in other industries? 

Offering a high level of customer service takes a great deal more than adding a few aspirational lines to a mission statement. To learn more about our perspectives and methods for managing service quality, I invite you to visit