Tomorrow morning, when you look in the mirror after you’ve gotten up, just write — put it in lipstick or whatever you want on the mirror — just put ‘delight my customer’.Warren Buffett
Buffett then clarified: “The phrase is not “satisfy my customer,”” … “Any business that has delighted customers has a salesforce out there. You don’t have to pay them, you don’t see them, but they’re talking to people all the time.”
These are the words of the man they call ‘The Sage of Omaha,’ Warren Buffett, the legendary CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and one of the wealthiest people in the world.
Buffett was speaking at the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses panel event at LaGuardia Community.
Buffett shared his own personal story of great customer service while trading-in his 2006 Cadillac to purchase a new 2014 Cadillac XTS in 2014. He said: “I don’t remember how much I paid, but I remember the experience I had. If you have them walk out the door thinking, ‘I have never had a better experience with a human being,’ they will come back to buy whatever you are selling.”
He warned that the price of not delighting your customer is losing the vote of the customer. “Either I felt very good about the person who dealt with me, or I thought the next time I will go someplace else” he said.
However, Buffet was so impressed with the salesperson at the dealership that he sent a letter of praise to General Motors chief executive Mary Barra. Delighted clients feel compelled to delight back. They stay loyal and share the delight back by advocating and by gratitude.
When it comes down to the customer service elements of banking, the fundamentals are the same as for any other business, including a car dealership.
We live in a world where we are surprised when we receive exceptional client service. Sometimes, even surprised with just good customer service. However, shouldn’t this be normal? So, why do so many companies get it wrong?
The customer retention strategy for this segment has primarily focused on improving customer stickiness by enhancing the user experience. Large banks have been investing heavily in improving their front-end internet and mobile banking applications to enhance the customer experience and bring it on par with the user experience offered by competitors, including challenger banks. One of the large bank success stories is Handelsbanken which is a leader in the field of improving the customer experience. Handelsbanken has put relationship banking at the heart of everything it does. Customers deal with people they know by name and, like it used to be in days gone past, decisions are made locally not in a remote head office. This enables each branch to offer a bespoke banking service. The bank offers banking services for both personal and business customers and consciously attempts to keep close to all customers.
Monzo uses a unique approach focusing on transparent customer engagement to build customer loyalty and to grow its market. The bank involves its customers in almost every part of its operations, including asking customers for feedback on product launches and fees, allowing them to invest in the company through equity crowdfunding rounds, and even sends every customer a copy of its earnings report. The challenger bank has on-boarded more than 2 million customers since it was established in 2015.
Banks, such as Sparda Bank in Germany, have invested massively in long-term digital transformation initiatives. Whether large, small or challenger, the banks to watch are the ones which already have great customer service but strive all the time to make it better in a sector which is not known for its focus on the customer. Last autumn, Handelsbanken presented its new strategic direction, aiming to create an even better customer offering while also improving efficiency and announced an additional total of SEK 1bn into digital development, over and above current development investments.
The initiative is expected to result in further improvements to the customer experience and will allow the Bank to better meet customers’ expectations with regard to advisory services and offerings such as digital meeting places. These efforts will also provide the branches with more effective tools in their work to facilitate business growth.
A recent social media post about Handelsbanken said this: “I have been very pleased with the service we have received over the past seven or so years. It is so refreshing to have a branch manager who knows you by name, and who makes a real effort to get to know their customers individually.”
In the long term only careful investment in digitization, cloud and customer-pleasing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) with the correct partners will ensure success in an increasingly crowded financial market and ensure that customer expectations are met. The key question for any bank planning technical improvements is – how does the bank blend the human and the technology? In other words how does it decide which technology will work best with its most valuable asset – its staff? To avoid staff viewing the new technology as a threat what strategy does it have to introduce both seamlessly? The banks which succeed are the ones which introduce technology to empower their staff to delight their customers. Can you say that a customer recently sent a thank you letter to your CEO? If not it may be time to start digitizing!