Show Me the Love

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Customer Strategy
Customer Experience
Valentine's Day doesn't normally conjure thoughts about banking--unless, of course, you're concerned about piling up too much debt onto your credit card account in demonstrating your affection to a loved one. But a recent experience I had with a bank has led me to share the following on this day of romance.

Valentine's Day doesn't normally conjure thoughts about banking--unless, of course, you're concerned about piling up too much debt onto your credit card account in demonstrating your affection to a loved one. But a recent experience I had with a bank has led me to share the following on this day of romance.I recently paid off a credit card balance I had with Chase. A few weeks after the account was paid in full, I received a bill for the next cycle which revealed that I owed more than $100. My initial reaction was outrage. I felt that Chase was trying to unfairly slap me with interest charges on the prior amount that was paid off, so I called customer service.

The Chase rep I spoke to was courteous when I described the situation. She could tell that I was miffed about the charges. She didn't immediately offer to remove the charges, explaining that the fee represented interest that had calculated on the previous balance. But then something wonderful happened--the agent offered to remove the charges and bring the account to zero balance, all without having to seek the permission of her supervisor.

This tells me two things. First, Chase appears to recognize that my long-term customer value is potentially worth a lot more than raking me over the coals for a $100-plus fee. Rather than hold my feet to the fire, the Chase agent treated me the way that she would want to be treated if our roles were reversed.

Second, my interaction with the Chase agent suggests that the agent has been given the autonomy to make certain decisions on behalf of customers without having to obtain the approval of her supervisor to remove the fees from my account. As Peppers & Rogers Group partner Orkun Oguz has pointed out, you can't become a customer-centric organization until the company has first become employee centric. This includes empowering employees to make real-time decisions on behalf of the customer.

There are critical moments in the customer experience that can make or break the customer-company relationship. When the Chase customer agent offered to waive the fee, this represented such a moment for me.

Of course, the situation could have played out differently. Chase could have waived the charge without informing me and sent me a bill with a zero balance. Or the bank could have included a note with the bill, informing me that because of how much they value my business and because I'm a customer in good standing, they've elected to waive the fee.

Then again, the bank could have stuck to its guns and chosen not to waive the fee. But in the end, they did what was right for the customer. And in the long term, companies that do right by their customers will position themselves for success.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION