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Expectations and Advocacy – Don’t Just Meet, Exceed

May 31, 2018
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If you are meeting your clients’ expectations, congratulations!  So are the majority of financial institutions.  Unfortunately, meeting expectations doesn’t do much for you in terms of customer advocacy or loyalty. 

Since the onset of mobile, smaller, more community-based organizations have been playing catch-up to the big banks in terms of technology.  We all had to do this – customers were expecting the technology and top-notch service levels.  Better, faster, cheaper was the goal, and now we’ve all arrived.  We’ve spent a ton of money and implemented all the bells and whistles that customers wanted.  What do we get in return?  Unfortunately, not too much.

Meeting expectations is surely important, but people don’t talk about things that are expected.  Only when you exceed expectations do you get the full value of customer advocacy.

If you think about it, it really makes perfect sense.  Why would you have a conversation about a simple task of going to the branch and making a deposit?  Was it simple? Did you get a receipt showing the correct deposit amount?  Did you complete what you set out to do at the branch?  Were your expectations met?  If the answer to any one of these questions is ‘yes’, why would anyone else care about this?  Would you bother telling anyone about this mundane task of going to the branch to make a deposit?

Now, let’s consider another scenario.  You went to the same branch to make a deposit.  You were greeted warmly when you walked in; a teller was available to handle your deposit right away. You were handed your receipt that also included your current balance.  The Teller notices your large balance and informs you of a current promotion for Certificates that you might want to consider. After talking through a few details about the promotion, the Teller hands you a crisp $5 bill, thanks you for being a customer and thanks you for your time discussing the details of the Certificate promotion.  As you exit the branch, another staff member wishes you a good day.  You float back to your car and head to Starbucks to spend your five bucks on a latte.  As you sip your latte and contemplate what to have for dinner, your wife calls.  You tell her that you are at Starbucks enjoying a latte purchased with the extra five bucks that you received from your financial institution.  Your conversation leads to the Certificate promotion and you echo back what the Teller said about the benefits of transferring some of your Checking balance into a certificate.  You both decide it’s a good idea.  Then, later that evening, you call your parents to tell them about the promotion.  The next day, you and your father go back to the branch and both open new Certificates.

As a financial services organization, which scenario would you prefer?

Raddon recently launched Touchstone Metrics, a quarterly survey program that measures elements of the customer experience across all delivery touchpoints including branch, drive-up, online, mobile and call center.  Measured elements of the customer experience include satisfaction, likelihood to recommend, how easy it is to conduct business with the organization, servicing and expectations.  Results are focused on achieving the top-box, or highest level of each element of the experience.  As the pentagram below suggests, exceeding expectations is the part of the experience with the most opportunity.

On average, financial institutions ‘meet’ customer expectations about 54% of the time and ‘exceed’ expectations only 42% of the time.  Not surprisingly, the Branch and the Call Center demonstrate better ‘exceed’ scores than mobile, online or drive-up; a human can better react to customer needs and adjust accordingly. 

Giving more flexibility and authority to the Branch and the Call Center to make the customer experience more ‘talk-worthy’, in a good way, can really pay off in terms of advocacy.  We are all very familiar with the Net Promoter© system (NPS©), the score that provides an indicator of the efficiency of your marketing.  A positive NPS© indicates that your Promoters are very much helping your marketing efforts.  A negative score indicates that the Detractor base is working against your efforts and negatively effecting your brand. The diagram below demonstrates the calculation.

Clients participating in Touchstone Metrics report an average NPS score of 59.  For those customers who report that expectations were simply ‘met’, the NPS is actually lower than average (41).  However, when expectations are ‘exceeded’, the average NPS score is a whopping 96.  Yes, that’s right, 96.

Additionally, we’ve learned that when you exceed customer expectations, as opposed to just meeting them, the proportion of households opening new accounts is about 30% greater.  Plus, the average new deposit balance for customers reporting that their expectations have been ‘exceeded’ is about 2.5 times greater than those reporting that their expectations have just been ‘met’.

The challenge for financial services organizations is to find out what customers consider to be an interaction when their expectations were exceeded.  Was it the warm greeting when you entered?  The five bucks?  Or, was it the combination?  In the Raddon Touchstone Metrics survey program, we specifically ask customers who indicate that their expectations were ‘met’, how the institution could ‘exceed’ expectations the next time.  As the word cloud below suggests, supporting efforts related to reducing time, facilitating online access to accounts and service were cited as ways the institution could exceed expectations.   Wait, didn’t we do this already?

We also asked customers to indicate what influenced them to indicate that their expectations were ‘exceeded’.  What is really interesting is that the items noted in the ‘met’ cloud (online access, timeliness) weren’t cited.  Rather, the cloud below suggests that consistency is the key to exceeded expectations – always friendly, always helpful, always great service, etc.  Aha!

In order for financial services organizations to fully understand how to exceed expectations, they need feedback.  Asking your customers for that feedback and implementing programs within your organization to help exceed customer expectations will definitely pay off in terms of advocacy and the financial performance of your organization.

For more information about measuring customer expectations, please visit the Raddon website, www.raddon.com.