ABA Banking Journal - August 2011 - (Page 22)

Pass ThE asPiRin THE BANKER-TO-BANKER ExCHANgE The headache: handling angry, frustrated customers People have shorter fuses these days. What tips can you or your staff share for handling the irate customer? Here are some of the answers “prescribers” provided. You can see all the answers—and add your own—online at www.ababj. com. Click on “Pass the Aspirin: The Blog” Remedy 1: Empathize Kevin McCarthy, president and CEO, Newport Federal Savings Bank, $449 million, Newport, R.I. We instruct our staff to let the customer vent. We try to give the customer our undivided attention and listen without interrupting to what they have to say. As best we can, we empathize and make it clear we understand their frustration. Further, we make it known how we will try to correct the problem and then follow through on what we commit to do and let the customer know in a timely fashion what the results are. This seems to work well, as over the years, we have had very few complaints that have ended up with regulatory officials. Remedy 2: Remember, you are “those people” William Grant, chairman and CEO, First United Bank & Trust, $1.5 billion-assets, Oakland, Md. The most important thing to do is to allow the customer the opportunity to express his or her frustration. In many cases, the customer needs to vent, or get an issue off his or her chest. Careful listening skills must be employed. Take good notes so that the issue, or issues, can be appropriately framed. It is fine to empathize with the customer, but care should be taken to not “throw the bank under the bus.” Comments like, “I don’t know why those people did that” don’t help. Remember, you are part of “those people.” It is your bank. In addition to possibly venting, the customer is looking to you for a solution. If, after your conversation, you can provide this solution, do so in a prompt and courteous fashion. If the solution is not apparent, or more research is required, be up front with the customer. Take the issue from the customer’s shoulders, and tell him or her that you will follow up at a given time with either an explanation or a solution. Close out the conversation with a genuine “thank you” for bringing the issue to your attention. Remedy 3: When in doubt, smile George Marx, chairman, president, and CEO, Copiah Bank, N.A., $154.6 million, Hazlehurst, Miss. First of all, realize there is a difference between an irate customer and a disgruntled or unhappy customer. You will never be able to satisfy 100% of customers who complain, but I do think the old 80%-20% rule, or a little higher, is a good goal. Here’s some of what’s worked at our bank: • Empathize with the customer. Treat them as you would like to be treated. • Never allow yourself to lose your temper. • If you are face-to-face, SMILE. A smile can work wonders. • Speak slowly and softly. Kind words never hurt. • Apologize for any inconvenience caused to the customer. • Be very prompt in responding if you are to call them back. • Always provide a resolution— even if it will sometimes not be what the customer wants to hear. • Always end the conversation by thanking them for their call or visit, and for the relationship they share with your bank. Remedy 4: Train your staff Greg Patton, president and CEO, Sierra Vista Bank, $83.9 millionassets, Folsom, Calif. The efficiencies and shortcuts that we’ve built into our service is often a part of the problem with an angry customer. Frequently, they don’t understand us, nor our policies, procedures, requirements, or other realities of modern banking. Their questions are regularly stymied by an electronic interface. So we have discussed with our frontline personnel a range of the big issues that they are likely to hear from the customer. With this knowledge we give them some ideas on what that angered person really wants, whether they know it or not. But most importantly, we have empowered that line employee to fix the problem. They know they can waive a fee, they know that they can open a different type of account. In short, they can offer anything that seems reasonable. When they don’t get that exactly right, it is an excellent training opportunity for the next time. Most importantly, they know they can walk that person into my office, if necessary, and I will help them handle the situation. No one wants to hear “Our policy states…” so between the trained employee and someone in management, we attempt to completely describe and discuss (without banker acronyms) the issue or policy that stands between the angry customer and their return to a happy state. 22  |  ABA BANKING JOURNAL  |  august 2011 http://www.ababj.com http://www.ababj.com/blog/277.html

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - August 2011

ABA Banking Journal - August 2011
Content
Chairman’s View
Editor’s Column
The Economy
Bank Notes
ABA Community Banking
Pass the Aspirin
Tech Topics
Cover Report: Branch Banking
Branch Design Portfolio
Will Local Players Win Reverse Mortgage Turf?
Compliance Clinic
Compliance Inbox
ABA Resources
Legal Issues
First Person

ABA Banking Journal - August 2011

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