Management began to hear anecdotal comments about the quality of account management as bankers spent more time selling new products than servicing existing relationships. A reward system built solely around individual selling at the banker and branch manager level resulted in service gaps and customer confusion when problems occurred. Some bankers were exceeding expectations for sales and customer retention while others were struggling. There were growing inconsistencies in the customer service experience.
Barlow Research proposed a five year plan for a Path to Excellence that involved an annual measurement of the customer experience, including metrics on account officer performance, branch manager performance, operational errors and intentions to repurchase. Each banker received a personalized customer results. High-performing bankers were paired with average performers to gain the skills that create exceptional loyalty. Results were used to drive the reward system.
Improvements were noticed in the first year as bankers were able to analyze and respond to their specific challenges. Second year improvements resulted from identifying workflow issues related to problem resolution. A centralized unit was responsible on paper but in reality the customers were resolving problems by contacting branch managers. Customers also expressed a need for improved responsiveness in the credit process, which resulted in re-engineering the role of the Credit Analyst by getting them in front of customers.
"Over the last five years our scores have moved from describing the average bank to one of the best banks in our regions. The front-line bankers feel our success. I am proud to tell people I work for (this Bank)."
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