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This week’s focus: A few weeks ago I complained about the poor customer service I received at my bank, and the lack of power given to its front-line people to deliver a great experience. It seems that so many “customer service” departments of major businesses are simply in the process of ticking boxes and adhering to centrally-driven processes, rather than actually helping their customers.

Well, thanks to a recommendation from one of the readers of that newsletter, I think I’ve found an answer. He pointed me in the direction of a Swedish bank called Handelsbanken. I have now met with the personal banking manager of my local branch twice and am in the process of transferring my banking business to her.

Here’s why. If I have a problem or question I can simply call her directly, rather than a faceless call centre (I have both her office and mobile numbers, as well as her email address); if I need a loan, the decision to lend is entirely hers, without any need for approval from her superiors or a computer-based assessment tool; and when I talk to her she is not immediately trying to sell me further investment and insurance ‘products’ – as Handelsbanken focuses on its core banking services and doesn’t sell these extras.

Delivering a great customer experience in the banking industry is possible, after all. As with any great service companies, however, it demands a real focus on what customers actually want and some clear decisions and trade-offs about the products and services offered and the way the business is organised.

What would your company look like if it were more clearly focused on your customers’ priorities and delivering the best experience possible, and what benefits could that deliver to its long-term success?

Off The Record: Jolly Banker by Woodie Guthrie

If you show me you need it, I’ll let you have credit
I’m a jolly banker, jolly banker am I
Just brink me back two, for the one I lend you
Singing I’m a jolly banker, jolly banker am I

© Stuart Cross 2015. All rights reserved.