ABA Banking Journal - August 2014 - (Page 6)
BY BILL STREETER
You're not in the
"In banking, where most
products and services are
offered by all players,
the differentiating factor is
ABA BANKING JOURNAL
hat is that supposed to mean?
Simply that if you think of yourselves as being in the banking
business, you're looking down the wrong
end of the telescope. A successful business person, now retired, said to me
recently, "Banks are not in the banking
business. They're in the service business."
His point is that whatever line of business you're in-a manufacturer of aircraft
components, logistics support, publishing,
coal mining, or financial services-you're
in the service business. That's because all
businesses have to find, and then serve,
customers. Even if you have a unique
niche or product, you can still fail to
capitalize on it if you don't provide good
service to your customers.
People may overlook poor service for
a time if a restaurant or new app is so
hot that they have to go to it, or have it.
But in a business like banking, where
most products and services are offered
by all players in the business (and many
outside the business)-commodities, in
other words-the differentiating factor
Fortunately, service is a rich vein to
mine, with many nuances and variations.
You have courtesy (a fundamental), convenience, responsiveness, knowledge,
ability, initiative, extra effort (pushing to
get a response to a customer ahead of a
meeting), a "good attitude," clear and
timely communication (another fundamental), patience (worth more than gold),
and much more.
Even in support functions, employees are
serving other employees, who are dealing
with customers directly or indirectly. (Okay,
some regulatory chores may be a stretch,
but for the most part the point holds true.)
I'm sure many bankers get this point, but
having been an observer (and customer)
of the banking business for some time, I
would say that the tendency of bankers is
think first of being in the banking business.
It's logical enough. You have to get the
underwriting right, make prudent judgments about products and pricing, satisfy
the regulators, and so on-it's a demanding
profession. Not everyone who masters the
more technical aspects of banking has the
same grasp of the importance of service.
But the best bankers understand both, or
at least they ensure they have both types
of people on board, and take steps to keep
the two in balance.
My recent visit to FirstBank Holding Co.,
Lakewood, Colo., for the October profile of
incoming ABA Chairman John Ikard, the
bank's CEO, confirmed the value of an
intense focus on service. Without taking
away from the article to come, suffice to
say that the bank's first CEO, the late Roger
Reisher, a Colorado business icon, said
things like this: "Do what the customer
wants, not what the bank wants." He
told colleagues that he didn't see much
desire among banks to serve the customer
in such things as convenient hours and
returning phone calls promptly. It's still
important even if you change the words to
"convenient web banking and responding
promptly to texts."
If you went only by bank advertising,
you'd think that all banks offer superlative
service. As always, the doing is much
harder than the saying. Especially over
the long haul. But if you can pull it off,
the rewards will be accretive over the long
haul, as FirstBank can attest.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - August 2014
Why HCE could be a big payment plus for banks
Rethinking the branch experience
Social media success not all about "followers"
Around the ABA
ABA Banking Journal - August 2014