Think about the companies that you like best. What sets them apart? Do they make it easy for you to transact with them? I recently had a set of highly aggravating experiences with a bank that I use that left me shaking my head at the lack of thought that was put into its customer experience processes for enrolling in an electronic payment system.We've been using the same tax guy for the past several years. After giving him a deposit for doing our taxes this year, he'd requested that we pay the balance using an automated payment system through a bank that we both use. Since I already have an existing credit card account with this international bank, I figured that the enrollment process would be easy. Boy, was I wrong.
After clicking the link to begin the enrollment process, I was given a series of prompts to authenticate myself using my account information. After trying - and failing - to do this three or four times, I gave up.
The bank sent me another email reminder the next day. Since I wanted to square things with our tax guy, I tried again. This time I was able to get through the first series of steps and get closer to activating my account and paying the balance only to get stymied at another checkpoint much deeper into the enrollment process where the system wouldn't accept my entries even though they were accurate. The system didn't offer any options for help desk support or chat sessions with an agent or even an FAQ to allow me to try to resolve the issue on my own.
From the time I clicked on the link to attempt to enroll to where I encountered this latest snag, a good 45 minutes had elapsed. I probably spent 10 minutes trying to resolve this particular issue. This means that it had taken me 35 minutes just going through the introductory enrollment process for electronic bill pay. I'll never know how many more steps might've been involved because I gave up. Had I known how cumbersome the enrollment process was going to be, I never would have started.
I notified our tax guy about the system issues and informed him that we'd instead mail him a check to cover the balance. I continued to receive email alerts from the bank for the next few days until our tax guy notified the bank that a payment had been received.
These types of experiences should be a wake-up call for financial services companies that have been striving to regain customer trust following the fallout from the financial crisis of 2008. If you want to earn customer trust, start by making customer experiences easier. Provide customers a chance to offer their feedback on their experiences (also missing from this exercise) and then act on customer issues as they arise.