Man looking through binoculars for future profitability for his financial institution“Banker’s hours” are gone: customers expect to manage their finances when it’s convenient for them. And today’s race to conduct more financial transactions online is important for safety as well as convenience.

And yet, bankers must never lose sight of the need for a human touch.

A retired woman I know is recently widowed. And while she and her husband had every detail of their estate in order, a last task of the financial matters she had to manage was to change their joint credit card account to her name only.

Her experience was nearly devoid of the human touch she most certainly needed. Here’s her story:

“I mailed them a note with the last payment telling them to change the name on the bill. They sent me a letter telling me to call. When I did, they closed the account and told me I had to go online and apply for a new card.”

The customer service representative was probably following his training. But there was apparently a big hole in the training because it was worthless in this incidence.

“The best part about dealing with them, they started out saying how sad they were at my loss and they would make this easy,”  the retired woman says.

She goes on to say, “I believe this is what regularly happens to widows. My name was on the account, but not the head name. Fortunately, my husband had me take out a different card in my name and I am glad I did. It has come in handy several times when the other company has failed us.”

And now, that’s her primary card.

She says she tried to tell the customer service person that they had a Trust, but either that didn’t matter or he didn’t know what a Trust was. “I told him he was forcing me to use the competing card, but he wasn’t impressed.” What should have been a simple matter left her feeling exhausted and deflated. “That spoiled my afternoon,” she says.

Obviously, it also spoiled the account because she did not go online to reapply with the company where she’d already had a longtime relationship. Calling it a relationship is a wild stretch of the imagination. They’ve lost her for good. She won’t forget how they made her feel.

Financial matters are emotional and very important to your customers. Ignore anyone dealing with a deeply distressing experience—at your peril. They will always remember how you treated them.

Your staffers need to know how to help people in difficult life circumstances:

  • how to listen
  • how to speak with them
  • how to offer guidance
  • how to really solve the problem

Your customers products and services require human beings as their bankers.

In this highly regulated environment, bankers still need to be ready to offer a listening ear and compassionate counsel. That will generate the kind of loyalty that no amount of sales promotions and discounts can buy.


Finance by the book still needs a human touch. If your financial institution needs help with customer experience or secret shopping, schedule a meeting with Martha Bartlett Piland. Let's see how we can help with an introductory call.