A new J.D. Power retail banking survey shows that image is more important than proximity, products or service.
A bank's image is based upon a customer's unique experience. And the customer experience, in turn, drives his or her recommendations: both positive and negative. So, a bank literally lives or dies based upon how well it treats customers. And that is as it should be.
While these findings may elicit a 'no duh' from most marketers, it's shocking to see how many organizations still get it so wrong. Airlines and cable companies are classic examples (so are NJ Transit and my buddies at the TSA. But, that's another blog for another day).
While the airline and cable industries are making positive strides, they continue to suffer from what I've been calling the 'other' digital divide. On the one hand, airline and cable company marketing teams are champing at the bit to ramp up their social media efforts so they can better engage with customers. On the other hand, their peers in customer service are being incentivized to disengage from customers as quickly as possible. Talk about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing!
T.D. Bank, which earned top Power scores in the Mid-Atlantic region, gets the connection. They ensure brand and customer service are intrinsically linked. 'Before we hire someone, we see if they smile at us during the initial interview. Then we continue to measure and monitor their attitude to customers,' said Linda Verba, EVP of retail operations and service. A smile? So simple, but so utterly lacking in so many retail experiences.
Public relations can, and should, be playing a lead role in aiding airlines, cable companies and any consumer-facing organization improve their image. But, the best image work in the world can't overcome a horrific product or service experience. That's a C-suite responsibility that too many C-suites have abdicated. Maybe they should smile a little bit more?
*Thanks to Greg Schmalz for the idea behind this post.