A banker went a-banking and the party was only just beginning
A few weeks ago, I had a rather comical experience at my local bank and of course, being me, I wrote about it. You read it.
We talked with thoughtful and well-informed consideration about the failures of high street banking, the purpose of branches, the failings of our analogue past and how they still haunt us… the options for the future.
And we were done, and moved on to the next topic… or so we thought.
I knew I wasn’t entirely done as I needed to repeat the cash withdrawal exercise a couple of times after the blog incident and of course, as expected, it was equally arcane but – keeping things interesting – in different ways each time. What I wasn’t expecting, was an algorithm with a sense of humour. But that is exactly what I got. Because a day or two ago I got an email. From my bank. “Dear Customer,” it said. “We read your blog.”
No it didn’t.
It said, did you visit our Old Broad Street branch on such and such a day and such and such a time? Why yes I did. Would you complete a customer satisfaction survey?
Boy oh boy, would I?
Now, things get interesting.
This was merely a statistical exercise in calculating NPS. A play in numbers. A play for numbers.
But I am big on eating my own dog food. So I answered the questions. And this is what I told them:
Don’t ask me about your people, ask me about yourself
There were a bunch of questions on how the cashiers performed. Were they courteous? Yes. Were they helpful? Were they taking care of my needs?
All I have to say to this is thank God for the free-form box where I could actually say what needed to be said. And what needed to be said is this: no matter how polite your staff, if they don’t know why they are doing what they are doing, they can never be truly helpful. No matter how hard they smile, how obliging their small courtesies, how winning their manner.
They are following a process blindly. They never asked and were never told why each step is how it is. Why options are not available for some things that seem so obvious (I am here, I have ID, you are here you have access to the system, you asked me a question last asked in 1997, the answer has changed, let’s update this thing together, you and me baby. But no. Computer says no and they don’t even know why. Teach them why.)
That’s it. Teach them why.
To know the cause of things. It’s a wonderful thing.
And your people don’t know why they do what they do and why they don’t do what they don’t do and it’s your fault, not theirs. And no amount of courtesy will make up for that. And it’s a terrible thing to be put in a position where you cannot improve your own performance. Don’t do that to your people. Teach them.
Don’t ask me about my task, ask me about your capabilities
Did you do what you came here for?
But it was hard.
And it was hard because your folks didn’t have the right tools.
Because you spent none of your innovation budget or your venture investment budget on making your colleagues’ lives easier. On skilling them up. On tooling them up. On equipping them to meet my need and get the task done.
They used pen and paper.
They filled out forms.
They copied the information off the form to the screen and stamped the form and then copied the information off my card and returned the card. There is another way. There is a better way. Why don’t you give them this better way?
Why don’t you make your employees’ lives better, and through theirs, mine?
So yes I got the task done.
But not in the way I should have, given the year, the maturity of certain technologies and the size of your innovation spend.
Go ahead and ask me for my name
I don’t name the bank in my blogs. I never do. I occasionally refer to them as the Giant in Red (pick one, your options are limited) for a few reasons.
First, it’s not just them.
Second, it’s not about shaming them, it’s about bettering the industry.
Plus it seems a little petty. It’s not about venting. It’s about reflecting and collectively moving forward.
So I filled out the feedback form.
And I gave the free form feedback because hey it’s an opportunity. If someone genuinely reads this stuff and they don’t just feed it to a calculator for the NPS score (they totally do but hey here’s to having faith in humanity) they will get real feedback. Actionable feedback. So that is what I gave: genuine feedback. With adjectives, adverbs and punctuation and everything.
And then the last question came: are you happy to disclose your name and for someone to call you to discuss your answers?
You betcha. So here we are. You asked. I answered. You challenged and I said bring it.
It was bad enough before you asked. But now if nobody calls me, we are beyond hope.
Your move, Giant in Red.
By Leda Glyptis
Leda Glyptis is FinTech Futures’ resident thought provocateur – she leads, writes on, lives and breathes transformation and digital disruption as chief of staff at 11:FS and CEO of 11:FS Foundry.
She is a recovering banker, lapsed academic and long-term resident of the banking ecosystem.
All opinions are her own. You can’t have them – but you are welcome to debate and comment!