There is a distinction being made now between customer service and customer experience, or CX. The former involves interactions with your people while the latter refers to customers’ holistic encounters with your brand.
Some companies spend big money and years of study to create a brand designed to deliver memorable CX. Yet investments meant to deliver on CX are destined to fail without a highly-trained workforce. Everything hinges on those people skills!
Two recent encounters illustrate how people are still the X-factor with CX.
It’s midday on Friday and there are two people in line to see the one teller inside a Kansas City, Mo.-based bank. I’m not there for a transaction. I need to talk about a signature change on a business account. There’s no customer service or reception desk at this institution, so after failing to catch the teller’s eye, I wander around the lobby like a lost child hoping someone will notice me. At least there’s self-service coffee.
Eventually a woman rounds the corner and ushers me into a private office. She looks up the account, asks for my ID, then settles back to listen to my request. Before I have the whole story out, she starts shaking her head. Body language before verbals cueing Obstacle Ahead. “We can’t do that,” she says with everything she’s got. I try to break the task down to its singular essence but she’ll hear none of it. She ticks off a list of things I need to do before she can do the one thing I need. Now I’m mad and all I can think about is moving the account to another bank. “Just come back when you get those other documents,” she says as if she didn’t already see that I live 400 miles away.
A few weeks later… Saturday night, and downtown St. Paul, Minn., is a ghost town. It’s 2019, so retail is dead, except for Walgreens on Wabasha Street and the brightly-lit Candyland that is, remarkably, open until 10 most nights. Behind the candy counter are three bright-eyed teens who practically trip over each other for the chance to help me. After bagging my Chicago Mix, one asks with a smile: “What else can I get you tonight?” I’m not the only person in the shop, but I’m made to feel like I am — by a teenager. Toss in the smell of fresh popcorn and the nostalgia conjured by the colorful arrays of treats and I’d say this sweetshop has nailed CX.
I understand banking is a complicated business, but customer service needn’t be.