Monthly Archives: March 2012
Barclays Bank: I sign up for business banking online
I had made the decision to move my business bank account so I did some research and decided on Barclays Bank. Why? Because:
- They offered “online sign up” and I assumed (based on the copy on the website) that I could set-up / sign up to business bank account without having to go the branch;
- My wife and I have personal bank accounts with Barclays and I assumed this would make sign up easier as Barclays already has our personal details and so can dispense with proof of identity, proof of address checks / hassle;
- Barclays business banking is on par with other banks.
I got all the details ready then spent some 10 minutes completing the application form looking forward to getting my bank account set up there and then.
The reality does not match my expectations: I’m disappointed, unhappy and feel cheated
That is when my first disappointment came – at the end of the application process. Why? In the world of Barclays “online sign up” means that I provide a whole bunch of information about myself, my wife, our business, our personal bank accounts with Barclays and I am told that someone will contact me to arrange for me to complete the sign up process at a Barclays branch. Online sign up actually means offline sign up!
Let’s just stop and consider this. My wife and I have gone through all the verification checks when we set up the personal banking. Barclays sends us your bank statements to our home address. And I can take a picture of the company documents (share certificate, certificate of incorporation, articles) and upload them to the Barclays website. So why are we being asked to go the branch?
Pleasantly surprised at how quickly someone follows up the application and the helpful email
To my surprise, fours hours later, I had a voicemail (from a chap from Barclays to progress my application. He left his name but no phone number so I could not call him back. Yet, he told me he would call me back. The next day I received an email, telling me that someone had called, they missed me and asked me to call them. I did and pretty much straight away I was talking with a ‘helpful’ lady.
The second disappointment is bigger than the first one: why are Barclays wasting my time?
That is when I got my next surprise and disappointment. She started asking me for EXACTLY the same information that I had entered into Barclays website during the sign up process. EXACTLY the same – field by field! So I mentioned that I had already supplied this data. Her response was something like this: “Customer often get it wrong online and so I have to go through all the data field by field to make sure that it is accurate.” My internal response “What!” Twenty minutes later I finished supply the data that I had already supplied. And I asked a couple of extra questions on my company which could easily have been asked online but were not.
The third disappointment confirms that the banks are badly broken if viewed through the Customer Experience lens
At the end of the 20 minute calls (double the time I spent on the online sign up process) the Barclays lady tells me that both my wife and I have to go to the local branch and bring the following documents: proof of identity (passport, driving licence photo card), proof of address (utility bill), certificate of incorporation, memorandum & articles and share certificate.
I ask her why it is necessary for my wife and I provide proof of identity and a utility bill given that we are both Barclays customers and have gone through this process already: “You have been sending us bank statements to our address for over 10 years! You have our address in your systems.” What does the Barclays lady say without hesitation? “Oh, you are dealing with Barclays Business Banking and we are a separate busines!”
I wonder: what are the Customer Experience folks up to?
If I was rating the performance of Barclays Bank from a customer experience I’d say the positives are:
- Online signup process was well signposted and easy to complete;
- The follow up phone call took less than four hours and took me by suprise;
- The systems (online, phone call, email) are clearly joined up because the email was clearly triggered when the Barclays chap phoned me and only got through to my voicemail;
- The lady I spoke to was calm, well spoken, came across as friendly and helpful.
Yet, I am left with the thought that none of this matters. And I am unhappy with Barclays: they show up in my world as the Bank that has deceived me and wasted my time:
Why claim to offer online sign up when it is obvious that the sign up has to be completed in the branch? If the customer does not go to the branch then the bank account is never opened. So clearly it is not an online sign up!
Why waste 20 minutes of my time asking me for the same data that I had already supplied? If customer provide you with rubbish then simply get them to enter their name, email and phone number – then do the job of getting the data on the phone. That way it comes as a delight – a service that you are performing for the customer!
Why make your customers bring in paperwork that you already have? Why not ring the Personal Banking side of Barclays and verify that my wife and I are existing customers?
All of which makes me wonder what the Customer Experience folks at Barclays Bank are up to? If you have the answer then please let me know.
The implications for Marketing when the company|customer ‘relationship’ is viewed through SD Logic
I have been reading this deck that has been posted on Slideshare by Wim Rampen. In this presentation Wim is making the case for looking at the business|customer ‘relationship’ through Service Dominant Logic. In a nutshell SD logic states that service is the fundamental basis of exchange between the company and the customer; products are services in disguise – you go and buy a drill to get access to the service of drilling a hole/s, there is no intrinsic value in the drill itself.
Looking at the business|customer relationship Wim makes the following point (I have modified his language to make certain concepts clearer):
If value for the Customer is dominantly created after the value exchange (buy/sell when goods are transferred from producer to the consumer), ie. IN USE, both the scope and content of MARKETING STRATEGIES SHOULD SHIFT from dominantly focused on creating momentum for value exchange (promotion /selling) to a continuum of interactions aimed at supporting the customer’s value creation process.
Do you get it? Wim is asking marketers and the Marketing function to shift from doing what they current do to designing and orchestrating the Customer Experience – across all interactions and touchpoints along the customer’s journey from research through to ownership and usage. This is how Wim puts it:
Marketing has to shift “from campaign and communication design to service experience design, end to end..”
Accepting this as the ground, the context, out of which Marketing operates, Wim goes on to spell out the key jobs that marketers and the Marketing function should be doing.
Wim Rampen: The 7 jobs that fall to the Marketing function
1. Understand customers’ value creation process (= jobs & desired outcomes) and where in the process customers fail to meet their desired outcomes;
2. Build relationships in communities of people with similar desired outcomes and behaviour;
3. Support customer’s value creation process;
4. Design experiences that stimulate engagement through interactions in networks of relationships;
5. Engage employees and partners in supporting customers in their process of value creation;
6. Extract actionable insights from 360-degree feedback to foster innovations and to turn them into value propositions that attract new customers; and
7. Redesign metrics to capture the engagement value for the firm and ensure there is high correlations between these metrics and customers value created.
Is Wim is asking too much of marketers and the Marketing function?
Lets assume that these are the jobs that need to be performed when it comes to the customer|customer relationship. Now the question is do marketers (and the Marketing function) have the required skills to do these jobs? Many of us would say that they do not. Yet, that is not an issue because people who do have the skills can be brought into the Marketing function. Do marketers have the required mindset and attitude? That is debatable – people, as groups, are loathe to let go of their mindset, values and attitudes. Yet, it is doable so let’s assume that marketers and the Marketing function can make that shift.
Now we come up with the more interesting question: does the Marketing function have the influence, the clout, to design and orchestrate end to end Customer Experience / “service experience design”? Before you answer this question get present to what is being asked of the Marketing function. The Marketing function is being asked to orchestrate the mindset, metrics and behaviour of all the functions and people in the enterprise: product development, sales, customer services, logistics, finance, human resources, information technology…. Is that realistic? And if that task falls to the Marketing function then why have a CEO or the Board of Directors?
Look into what is so (reality) and you are likely to find that the Marketing function is simply one piece on the corporate chessboard and its mandate / role is limited to using advertising and spin to stimulate demand for the products that the corporation makes and needs to sell. That is all that is expected of the Marketing function. Sit with marketers and you are likely to find that they feel boxed in, limited, by the space that they are given to play in. Only a few Marketing functions control the 4Ps – most only control one P, Promotion. What I am pointing at is the gulf between marketing theory and the reality on the ground.
We are looking at organisational transformation and Marketing cannot lead that
Continue looking into reality and you are likely to find that the Marketing function that has little respect in the Boardroom or within the organisation in many if not the majority of companies. If that is so then how is the Marketing function going to take the lead an, in effect, transform the organisation: product development, sales, customer services, logistics, finance, human resources, IT etc – they all have to play together to provide the kind of end to end service experience that Wim is talking about.
The role of organisational renewal and transformation belongs to the Tops (the CEO and the senior leadership team) and not the Marketing function. Collectively the Tops need to: buy into the services dominant logic way of looking at the business; articulate an inspiring vision of the future and convert this into a blueprint; have the guts to requisition and deploy the right resources to convert that blueprint into reality; roll their sleeves up and help in turning the blueprint into reality; see it through to the end – be committed to the end goal; and be flexible and patient in going around obstacles on the path – there will be many obstacles.
If you are still in doubt over the point that I am making then ponder this: how likely is it that one of the States in the United States is in a position to influence and orchestrate the agenda / priorities / behaviour or all of the States in the United States so as to create harmony across all? Then ask yourself if you did want that kind of harmony – say in the laws that apply – across the States then who is best placed to lead that task? Is it really one of the States? And if it is, which one is best placed, has the most credibility, the most influence, to bring about that kind of change? Then ask yourself how long this process is likely to take?
The problem with Customer Experience is the Designers
Is the engineering / six sigma way of thinking and approaching the business world the right one for designing and orchestrating customer experiences? Walk into many business, take a look at who is involved in Customer Experience efforts and the way that they are going about it and the answer is YES. I am not in agreement with this view, this approach. I wrote a post (The Problem with Customer Experience is the Designers) some time ago. The one change I would make, today, is to say that the issues is not limited to the designers – it also includes their masters, the people who commission the work of the designers.
Customer Experience design is so much more than process design
In this post I simply want to get us present to the fact that the process lens (and thus process design / redesign) whilst useful can be misleading when it comes to getting a rounded grip on Customer Experience. Designing great customer experiences means getting to grips with the fullness of our humanity. I can talk about this (and it will show up as abstract) or I can point you towards what I am thinking by using an example. Lets take look at my tea drinking experience.
How you can change the Customer Experience without changing the process
This is the mug that I normally use:
Why do I use it? I use this mug because it is just right. The main differentiator is the size/design of the handle – I can easily slide three fingers into the handle and the mould into the handle, a good fit. There is the functional component of ease, the tactical component of fit between the handle and my fingers AND there is the emotional component. There are two strands to the emotional component. The first arises out of the tactile – how holding the mug ‘feels’ in my hands. The second strand arises from memory – this mug was given to me as a Christmas gift, by colleagues, at a previous employer.
Can I change my tea drinking experience without changing any elements of the tea making-serving-drinking experience? Yes, I can. I can do it simply by changing the container I use.
Here is another mug that I use:
At a functional and tactile level this mug is poor in comparison to the previous mug. Yet I do use this mug and I am attached to it. Why? This mug was made/decorated by my daughter and presented to me with a big hug and kiss on my right cheek. It was her gift for Fathers Day and it says “No 1 Cuddly Bear”. Every time I see and use this mug I am not just drinking tea, I am in fact present to and immersed in the love of my daughter. So here we have a transformation of my experience simply by changing the mug.
Lets take a look at a different ‘mug’ and what impact this has on me and my tea drinking experience:
Notice that this ‘mug’ is not a mug, it has no handles, it is more accurately described as a bowl. I first came across this when I married into the French – at breakfast my tea was presented to me in a bowl just like this one.
Drinking tea from a bowl instead of a mug completely alters my tea drinking experience. When I use this bowl I am totally present to the sensations of holding the bowl, lifting the bowl, drinking/tasting the tea. Why? Because, the bowl requires me to hold it with both of my hands. When I am holding the bowl with both of my hands I cannot be mindlessly drinking tea (not being present to the tea drinking experience) whilst using the computer – it simply does not lend itself to that. Furthermore, the simple act of holding the bowl with two hands to cusp the bowl creates, for me, a more ‘intimate’ tea drinking experience. I use this bowl when I want to bring myself back to the real world – to be mindful of my physical experience, to really be present to and appreciate the tea experience in its fullest dimensions.
Finally, lets take a look at this last ‘mug’:
My wife loves pretty stuff and this is the what she uses to serve tea when we have guests with us. This ‘mug’ is neither a mug nor a cup or a bowl. Yet, it is a little like all three and as a result it provides with a different experience. First of all, when I see this ‘mug’ memories of family and friends rush into my mind along with pleasant feelings. Second, this ‘mug’ is too big for the handle and so a certain presence is required: it is not possible to drink tea mindlessly – I have to be present to what I am holding. Third, I like the look of this ‘mug’ – the design, the colours, the simplicity of the pattern. As a result, I enjoy drinking tea that much more. Finally, I cannot ever drink tea from this ‘mug’ without thinking of my mother-in-law (who loves pretty objects) and thinking how much my wife is like my mother-in-law and yet does not realise it! This brings a chuckle to my lips and smile into my heart.
Points to reflect upon when you are looking to improve / design the Customer Experience
I hope that I have shown up that just focussing upon and improving the process is not enough when it comes to designing / orchestrating the customer experience. You need to look broader and understand how human beings experience stuff.
Human beings see, hear, touch, walk, smell and taste. What does this mean for your Customer Experience design? How can you use the right sensory cues? How can you involve customers more so that they are more fully present and thus in the experience? Or how can you distract your customers so that they are not present to ‘unpleasant’ experiences?
We, human beings, think and they remember – the bring both of these qualities to the experience. How can you evoke the right thoughts, the right memories so as to elevate the customer experience? What do you need to do to avoid evoking unpleasant memories?
Human beings are social by design and one of main facets of social is speaking and listening. What implications does that have for your Customer Experience design? Should people be present or not in the Customer Experience? If they should be present then how many, what kinds of people? What kind of social conversations and exchanges are the right ones? And so forth.
Finally: process mapping and process design are easy in comparison to Customer Experience design. Incidentally, process mapping disguised as customer experience mapping is still process mapping. It only becomes customer experience mapping when you get access to the inner domain where experience resides and look at a lot more than the sequence of steps that the customer has to execute.