Hello Bank Customers

Nearly all community bankers will say their institution offers outstanding customer service. Their advertising, website and collateral materials all say it.

That’s not good enough.

Good customer service is the lowest price of entry. If you want to excel and create truly sticky relationships, designing a great customer experience will take your bank’s marketing to new levels.

You worked hard to get them in the door. What’s next?

What do new or potential customers really experience at your bank? Whether they walk into the branch, chat on social media or shop your website, you should be keenly aware of what happens and how they feel when you’re interacting with them.

The customer’s perception is your reality. Here are a few things you can learn from the hospitality industry that make your in-person CX as unforgettable—and irresistible—as your first taste of crème brûlée.

Check out the successful hoteliers.
At a recent stay at an upscale hotel chain, I was blown away by the experience. As I entered the lobby for check in, I was greeted immediately by a woman who had been standing at the front of the customer line with two other colleagues, ready to help arriving customers. She introduced herself, guided me forward to the check-in counter, then slipped behind it to begin the transaction.

I repeat: staffers were standing at the head of the customer line waiting for people to arrive, rather than standing behind a counter. That means that we started with no barrier between us. I felt like a guest, not an intruder.

As we talked about why I was there and what my business is, she called me Ms. Piland. She made sure to tell me about how to access the wi-fi, where I could find the business center and lounge, and on what floor I could grab a Starbuck’s coffee.

Next, she came back around the counter and presented my room key with both hands. Finally, she started walking me toward correct elevator that would take me to my room.

Wow. This visit started with elegance, class and polish. I felt important. I felt catered to. I felt that my business mattered.

Order up from the quick serve restaurants.
Even the most casual quick-serve restaurants have a protocol. Often, as a customer walks in, a host opens the door and welcomes the customer immediately.

When leading customers to a table, the host will tell them the name of the person who will be “taking care of” them. As the server arrives, he also introduces himself. And he very quickly brings water or takes a cocktail order.

The server will go on to make some quick chit-chat, mention the specials then ask if he can help by recommending a dish. And more often than not, he knows the menu well and can help customers make choices they feel good about and will enjoy.

It’s consistent. It’s planned and baked into their process.

We’ve come to expect this nearly everywhere. If we don’t get it, we feel bewildered and a bit as though something’s wrong.

“It is not your customer’s job to remember you, it is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have a chance to forget you.”—Patricia Fripp, author and service industry expert

Design your experience. Don't let it happen by chance.
What’s your standard of service? Do you have one? As you develop your sales protocol for business development, be sure you’re not overlooking the customer experience protocol that sets you apart from other banks.

Develop a how-to manual for your bankers that addresses how you want everyone in your bank to interact with customers. Train, rehearse and secret shop other banks to identify the details that can make or break the customer experience. Here are 10 of the most important ones:

  1. Greeting response time
  2. Introduction and handshake
  3. Customer and teller line layout
  4. Using customers’ names
  5. Showing the way versus pointing
  6. Offering water, coffee or other refreshments
  7. Handling paperwork and business cards
  8. Recommending a product after asking good questions
  9. Consultative selling of additional products after asking good questions
  10. Saying thank you and goodbye

Make sure these actions and attitudes build your brand and support your purpose and your why.

Consistent, well-designed experience matters.
Just as in the hotel and restaurant industries, your financial competition is fierce. You must push beyond “great customer service” and you cannot leave it to chance. Designing an amazing customer experience builds and solidifies relationships. It’s the stuff that grabs them at hello. It makes you legendary and it reaps tremendous rewards.


  • This article was first published in the American Bankers Association Journal.

    For help designing marketing strategies that ensure your customers have a great experience with every interaction at your bank branches, call Martha Bartlett Piland direct at 785.969.6203. You can also order her newest book, Beyond Sticky on Amazon or anywhere books are sold.