Tail-Wagging Service: How Banks Can Delight Customers and Dogs Alike

Prioritizing exceptional customer experience

I still go to the bank. I mean, literally, I get in my car and drive to my local branch. I deposit a combination of checks and cash a couple times a month—gasp—in person. I know; it’s so 2019 of me. But before you wag your digital banking finger in this direction, you should know that the title of the number two banking trend for 2023 from Accenture Banking is “The Renaissance of the Branch.” Hmmm, back to my story. My dog is usually with me when I make my biweekly trek through the drive-thru, and the teller is always prepared, smiling and treat-laden. When the drawer opens with my deposit slip, there’s also a delicious bone for my tail-wagging buddy.

My local banker has done such a great job relating to my dog (and therefore me) as a real friend, my dog is now trained. When I say, “Do you want to go to the bank?” my dog goes nuts. I have resorted to spelling the word when I use it at times that don’t involve an actual trip to the B-A-N-K. This is the outcome of an exceptional customer experience, simple but powerful.

In the Accenture Banking article, “Top 10 Trends for 2023,” Michael Abbott notes that the recent pandemic-driven emphasis on digital made perfect sense, but it cost something in the customer experience department. He explains, “The pandemic showed us that without face-to-face interaction, most banks struggle to maintain close, loyal relationships. Digitalization made customers more self-reliant, but at the same time it eroded banks’ differentiation, facilitated switching and generally made banking a lot less personal—the opposite of what is needed to succeed today.” Making banking personal continues to be cornerstone in impacting customer experience. Here are some reminders about prioritizing accordingly.

Think Engagement Instead of Transaction

Exceptional customer experience is an animal more easily spotted around relationship banking. When financial institutions interact with customers based on their transaction history, customers end up feeling the relationship is nothing but transactional. Looking beyond the transaction to develop trust and quality relationships is an important refocusing. This often means learning how and when customers want to engage and planning to respond to their larger goals and intentions in addition to their surface layer questions.

Part of achieving this is making certain that useful customer data is at the fingertips of every team member. Verify the necessary technology is in place (e.g., a robust CRM or a custom software solution). The best systems allow for personalization at all interaction points, like knowing it’s a customer’s birthday when they visit the branch. Data is certainly the beginning of creating a process that succeeds, but the human element is catalyst. McKinsey & Company speaks to this in “Managing a Customer-Experience Transformation in Banking,” “The most successful customer-experience efforts apply a human filter to collected information to address key questions about the motivations and wishes of customers.” Remember, a customer is more than the sum of their transactions. Banks and credit unions should be proving that to them through meaningful engagement.

Connect the Dots of Products and Services

Financial institutions are notorious for having data spread all over their organizations, siloed within business lines, not connected in any practical way except maybe poorly on a spreadsheet at a monthly meeting. Aim your technologies at coalescing that data, and then according to Abbott, that data “needs to be organized around the customer rather than the bank’s products or channels . . . . In many ways this emulates what great branch managers have always done: keep track of who their customers are, what they want, where they are going in life and what they are likely to need next.”

Technology is part of this, but also having an on-board C-suite and a strategic plan that issues the directive for the necessary integrations is also important. Connecting the dots between product, service, and customer makes these interactions start to look like a relationship—a relationship that affords the opportunity for an exceptional customer experience.


Offer Solutions to Customers, Not Just Products

With economic uncertainty looming ahead, customers want more than speed and convenience. Financial questions beg for expertise and banks and credit unions have a golden opportunity to meet customers where they are in the current environment. Jim Marous at The Financial Brand explains the evidence from J.D. Power’s Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, “The preeminent performance metric with the biggest influence on customer satisfaction is ‘supporting customer during challenging times,’ and that means customers are expecting a personalized mix of financial advice, hands-on help with problem resolution and guidance on how to grow their money.

This type of service is personal and ripe for delivering exceptional customer experience. It means having a full view of every customer and a proven process for successfully diagnosing real challenges and prescribing real solutions. Abbott agrees, “By knowing what matters most to a customer at any particular time, and by combining technology with people skilled in nurturing holistic customer relationships, banks will be able to optimize the experience for that moment—and achieve unique and productive connections.” Digitization has brought convenience and is nothing less than a revolution, but exceptional customer experiences are about people, and they are often simple interactions--like knowing a customer is about to make their last mortgage payment or, even more personal, knowing that their dog is named Lucky.

Recently I had to make a deposit for a friend who banks at a different institution. I happened to have my dog with me, and when we pulled into the drive-thru line, he perked up. True, it wasn’t our bank; but the awning, the teller behind the glass, and that magic mechanical draw were similar enough. Soon the head was out the window, and the tail was wagging. With the completed deposit the teller offered a perfunctory “thank you,” the drawer opened, and there was a singular, lonely deposit slip--no bone, no apology, no love. My dog, confused and crestfallen, looked at me with a “What the heck?” Equally deflated, I patted his head and said, “Don’t worry buddy, we will NEVER do our banking here.” Like I said, simple but powerful.


How 360 View Can Help

If you long for a CRM that offers customizable customer profiles that could include such things as the name of a customer’s dog, consider our trusted and powerful tool. 360 View is the CRM Platform for banks and credit unions. It not only offers an easy-to-use CRM, but several additional tools including a marketing automation module. If you'd like to know more, check out our Getting Started Guide or schedule a demo to get a personalized tour of our product.

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