Losing customers is preventable

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August 11, 2011 – ISSN# 1545-2646


I have recently had to deal with one of my financial institutions being acquired by another institution and the merging of their data records and software applications.

Being very familiar with the financial and software industries, I anticipated some migration bumps in the road and was ready to give it all some time to sort itself out.

The two institutions did a very complete job of informing their customers what and how things were going to happen. I was very excited about the future options I would have to do my financial transactions.

Then reality set in.

What started out like a great plan by the organization to communicate their plans, their execution was weak if not just straight up bad. Features previously available when doing electronic banking over the internet were gone. Replaced with features that predated some of the most basic activities of paying bills on line. When questioned, the organization had no real good answers and that they would make others aware of my concerns.

As additional phases of the migration were rolled out, more and more issues surfaced.  At one point in time I was locked out of my one account for 5 days do to some issue with the account being a different format than others. Other items included having some payment withdrawn, re-deposited and then double withdrawn. Lucky for me, I keep on top of these type of things and did not have any bounced financial transaction during this timeframe.

After many telephone calls and even an on line survey complaining about all the issues, I’m yet to be contacted by someone with real “Lets get this cleaned up” authority.

This is a great example of good intentions gone bad.  I can fully appreciate the complexity of merging large complex databases and software applications.  Unfortunately the merger was positioned as bringing more good to the members and that just flat out was less than the hype.

To top it off, my initial financial institution had outstanding customer service. During the merger they centralized customer service in an out state area and the talent pool in that area lack basic knowledge of providing services via the telephone.

None of this needed to take place.  They started out in the right direction and then stopped managing the process.  They did not give their internal people the capability or empowerment to actually help their customers.  They did not train their internal staff well enough to handle issues. They have either consciously or unconsciously decided accounts like mine are not important.  Strangely enough, I have multiple accounts with the financial institution and if mine are not important, well many others must also be unimportant.

As business leaders, there are many lessons to be learned from this situation.  This week, focus on your customer support system – the people, the processes, the empowerment.  Is your customer service environment open to keeping and growing your customers or more designed to hold internal procedures over their head to push customers away?  Losing customer is a preventable situation but only if you pay attention and make it a priority.

I’m currently re-evaluating my accounts with this institution and their capability to handle my future financial transactions.

Interested in making customer service a profit center rather than an expense? Give JKL Associates a call at (313) 527-7945.

Questions or comments – email us at partners@jklassociates.com or call our Office at (313) 527-7945-


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