Capital One Rebrands ING Direct, Puts Brand Equity At Risk

Capital One announced that it will drop the ING Direct brand (along with its highly recognizable orange ball logo) and rename the unit Capital One 360. While it may make sense to reinforce the Capital One brand across its operating units, this move comes with some risk.

It turns out that ING Direct has considerably more positive brand equity than Capital One. Take a look at banking results across many of our 2012 Temkin Ratings:

The bottom line: Hopefully a lot of ING Direct rubs off on Capital One

Customer Experience And Loyalty For UK Banks

In yesterday’s post, I discussed the connection between CX and business results for U.S. banks. Well, the relationship holds true for UK banks as well. Here’s a chart with the banks in the Temkin Experience Ratings UK and Temkin Loyalty Ratings UK.

The bottom line: The link between CX and loyalty holds true in the UK

USAA’s Mobile App Showcases Innovation

For years, there’s been a lot of hype about mobile banking. It turns out, however, that most people are not ready to abandon their branch visits, phone calls, or Web browsing for a mobile window into their bank. But that doesn’t mean that mobile can’t play an important role in banking.

Source: New York Times

USAA introduced an innovative iPhone applicationremote check depositing. Customers that qualify for the service can take pictures of their checks and deposit them into their accounts as if they were handing the paper check over to a teller.

My take: This application makes a ton of sense for USAA, especially since many of its military customers are stationed around the world. Companies can find opportunities like this by following my three steps for customer experience innovation:

  1. Uncover the needs. Many USAA customers do not have an easy way to deposit checks.
  2. Design a disruptive strategy. The mobile app is a great example of a strategy called online infusion.
  3. Evaluate the opportunity. Given USAA’s focus on making it as easy as possible for their customers, this new application makes strategic sense. And the company’s rules for qualifying help keep the risks low. 

The bottom line: Everything starts with customers’ needs.

Does Your Bank Make You Smile?


This morning I presented at Digital Insight’s user conference in San Diego. After I discussed why customer experience is important for banks (especially small and mid-sized banks) and explained how to apply the principles of Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD), Doug Zernow told the story about Northwestern Bank.

ICDT webIt turns out that everyone in the bank wears a button that says “I can do that!” But it’s not a slogan, it’s the essence of the bank; they’ve infused a sense of ownership and accountability to customers in everything that they do.

Doug described the four values that underlie “I can do that!:”

  • Customer focus (the customer is the boss)
  • It’s about “I/we” not them (keep silos from getting in the way)
  • Energy givers, not energy takers (engaged employees)
  • Minimal policies and rules (employees are empowered to waive fees, negotiate rates, and spend money to make the customers happy)

What has “I can do that!” meant for Northwestern Bank?

Growth! When the bank started the program in 2002, it had 7.2% market share in its geographic footprint. Since then, it’s market share has grown steadily — hitting nearly 13% in 2008. During that time it has also grown larger than three of its main competitors in the region: Citizens, Huntington, and BankOne.

My take: Northwestern Bank’s “I can do that!” program is a great example of EBD’s Principle #2: Reinforce the brand with every interaction.

The bottom line: Make your customers smile.

PNC Bank Breaks Through Gen Y Blindspot

Last year I proclaimed that Banks Have A Gen Y Blind Spot. Well, that’s no longer true for all banks. It turns out that PNC enlisted IDEO to help engage Gen Y and created a new offering: VirtualWallet. According to a recent BusinessWeek article, PNC has signed up more than 20,000 customers (70% from Gen Y) and is on track to break even in two years.

Here’s how VirtualWallet is described on the IDEO Website:

[It is] a family of banking products that provide customers with seamless access to their finances and intuitive, tangible, and direct control of their money. Centered on electronic transactional banking, it is designed to both promote and optimize banking activities with features and visualizations that support the mental models and lifestyles of its Gen Y customers

My take: I really like VirtualWallet. It shows what you can do when you explicitly focus on Gen Y. The long-term success will require ongoing nurturing by PNC, but the initial approach makes a lot of sense because:

  • It applies a strategy called online infusion. While it’s a financial offering, online features like a money slide bar to graphically indicate available funds, a “Savings Engine” that helps customers establish rules around spending, and a playful instant transfer feature named “Punch the Pig” are core to the value proposition.
  • The online experience implements many components of the four strategies we’ve defined for engaging Gen Y: 1) Immediacy, 2) Gen Y literacy, 3) Individualism, and 4) Social Interactivity.
  • There’s a mobile component. While this wouldn’t make sense for many banking applications based on overall mobile usage, it’s almost a requirement if you want to target Gen Y; many of whom view their cell phone as their primary digital device.
  • The approach starts with customer needs. While this is not novel for projects that involve IDEO, many companies aren’t diligent enough in starting with a solid process for uncovering the true needs of specific customer segments. By understanding Gen Y behaviors, the bank can actually charge fees for anything more than 3 checks per month.

The bottom line: Gen Y will be getting a lot more attention from banks.

Forrester’s European Forum, Part 2 (Banks)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was the Forrester’s European Consumer Marketing and Financial Services events in London last week. Here are highlights from a few interesting speeches about customer experience initiatives within large European banks:

  • Mike Thompson, Head of Real Retail Center of Excellence, Barclays
    “Building Better Customer Journeys”
    Thompson discussed the bank’s “Way Ahead” program. While Barclays had customer insights, it realized that the front line “was oblivious” of the information. The goal of the program was to translate the insights into language that the front-line staff would understand. Thompson shared the simple statements they came up with for guiding customer interactions: Be welcoming, be knowledgeable, be proud, be inquisitive, be innovative, and be memorable. He shared a couple of powerful videos they produced to make these items come to life with the staff. To make the training engaging, the bank created tools like playing cards with tips for each of these areas and processes for the staff to translate these statements into their own enviornment. They also created DVD-based training modules which were developed for managers to use in their short (5-10 minutes) morning meetings with the staff.
  • Nick Read, Director Distribution, Sales and Service, HBOS
    “Develop A Branch Led Customer Experience Culture”
    Reed discussed how the bank had become really good at growing customers in the early 2000’s, but then started to lose customers around 2005. The success of the “sales machine” kept the bank from recognizing the problem and focusing on customer service. This year, however, they have started to address the situation with a program focused on being “easy to do business with.” The bank created a three-level service strategy: 1) Get operational basics right; 2) delight customers when it matters; and 3) stand out from the competition based on our attitudes and behaviors. To get the staff focused on great experience, they created “Service Expressions” to bring to life the staff’s role in customer experience: “It’s good to see you.” “I take responsibility,” “You matter to me,” and “I can make you better off.” The bank uses 4 key measurements: Customer satisfaction, customer complaints, average product holdings, and colleague satisfaction (it uses a “Colleague Morale Index”).
  • David McQuillen, Head of Client Experience, Credit Suisse
    “The Three Causes and Cures of Bad Customer Experiences”
    McQuillen dicussed how product/price/performance represents about 37% of the drivers of customer satisfaction for banks; service and experience account for the rest. He described three causes for customer experience problems: Too much choice, increased complexity, and the inability to communicate. He also discussed four elements of design for each channel; for the Web it’s function, structure, content, and aesthetics. To keep employees from being internally-focused, McQuillen gets people to say “I am not my customer” and he talked about a collaborative process for designing with the customer and not for the customer. To get empathy for customers, executives go through immersive experiences which include trying to accomplish something like a customer, observing customers, and interviewing customers. McQuillen discussed one project where they got the bank’s lawyers to sit in a room and fill out some of the bank’s forms.

The bottom line: Many banks are taking customer experience seriously.

Wells Fargo Buys Wachovia: A Win For Customer Experience

In a recent post, I discussed my concern about Citibank buying Wachovia. But there’s good news on that front, Wells Fargo has stepped in and bought Wachovia. Well, that’s GREAT NEWS for customer experience.

In Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, Wachovia was fourth and Wells Fargo was seventh out of 14 banks on the list — two of the highest ranking large banks. I’ve worked with both of those banks; they have reasonably strong customer-centric cultures (at least compared to other big banks). You can see some of that in my post about how Ken Thomson’s leadership impacted Wachovia.

The bottom line: Hopefully Wells/Wachovia will raise the level of customer experience across the whole industry.

Citibank And JPMorgan Chase Face Customer Experience Crossroads

It’s been quite a week in the banking industry. Washington Mutual was sold to JPMorgan Chase and there’s talk of Wachovia merging with Citibank. From a customer experience perspective, it doesn’t look good. Why not?

In Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, we ranked 14 banks. The bottom 2 on the list were Citibank and JPMorgan Chase. Wachovia was fourth and Washington Mutual was eighth. If we assume that the acquiring company will set the prevailing tone, then that’s a big loss for customer experience. Making matters worse, the integration of large organizations tends to make people become very internally focussed as they try to merge systems, products, organizations, and processes.

My take: The advice that I gave in my previous post called Two Words For Vikram Pandit (Citigroup CEO): “Customer Experience” is even more important than ever, for both Vikram Pandit and Jamie Dimon (JPMorgan Chase CEO). Since we know that customer experience highly correlates to loyalty in banking, these CEOs should make customer experience a key tenet of the integration. Without a keen focus in this area, customer experience will likely get worse.

The CEOs shouldn’t just push for minimal customer disruptions, I’d like to see them strive for customer experience excellence. But this type of bold move will take leadership. It will take an ongoing commitment from the CEOs to maintain the focus on customer experience, and very strong Chief Customer Officers to chart and guide the transformation.

Both big banks will need to go through the five stages of maturity that I defined in my research on the customer experience journey:

The bottom line: Only strong leadership can convert customer experience from a liability to an asset.

BofA + Merrill, The Customer Experience Angle

With Bank Of America buying Merrill Lynch, I thought I’d weigh in on the deal. Rather than joining the discussion about what it means to mega issues like the economy and financial markets,  I’ll talk about the impact on customer experience. Let me start with my overall assessment: it can’t hurt too much.

In Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CxPi) which ranked 112 US firms, Merrill Lynch came out 49th overall and next to last out of 10 investment firms; only beating out E*TRADE. It’s key problem: The investment firm is not easy to do business with.

Bank of America came out even lower, 91st overall, which was 10th out of 14 banks in the rankings. The bank’s problems spanned all areas of the CxPi.

My research has shown that there’s a high correlation between customer experience and customer loyalty in financial services. So there’s an enormous opportunity. But the questions is: Which firms will benefit?

If Bank Of America takes the opportunity to overhaul it’s customer experience as part of the integration, then it could mean a siginficant improvement in customer experience in a few years; good news for both its banking and investment clients. But the integration will likely take the financial giant’s focus away from customer experience in the short-run.

So there’s significant opportunity for other financial institutions to beef-up their customer experience and grab some market share. My guess at some of the winners in this battle: Wells Fargo, Wachovia, and some smaller banks. It might also be a good opportunity for TD Bank to expand its Commerce Bank footprint and for someone to buy Umpqua Bank. And, I’m adding Edward Jones to the list of firms that could be winners (see the comments on this post, thanks Eva).

The jury is still out on what this means to the behemoth Citibank, which was the worst ranked bank on the CxPi and near the bottom of the entire list of firms. My suggestion to Citi is the same as in my post from late last year: Two Words For Vikram Pandit (Citigroup CEO): “Customer Experience”

The bottom line: I’d make customer experience improvement a core tenet of the BofA/Merrill integration effort.

Bank Experiences Break Down Across Channels

In a recent research report called Banks’ Cross-Channel Experience, 2008, we evaluated the cross-channel experiences of four large US banks: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wachovia, and Wells Fargo. This analysis looked at our evaluation of cross-channel experiences across four industries. The results are particularly important for banks, since we’ve found that customer experience is highly correlated to loyalty in banking.

To analyze those experiences, we used Forrester’s Cross Channel Review (CCR) that evaluates interactions in five areas: Web, email, phone self-service, agent interactions, and transitions across those channels. While a company that passed all of the criteria in the CCR would earn a score of 57, the banks ended up with an average score of only -11. Bank of America led the group with a score of -2 while JPMorgan Chase ended up at the bottom with -27.

Here are some additional findings from the research:

  • Banks, as a group, scored better than department stores and MP3 manufacturers, but worse than airlines.
  • The three lowest scoring categories of banking experiences were channel choice, IVR navigation, and continuity across channels.
  • Here are the highest/lowest scores for the banks in each area:
    • Web site: Bank of America [+7] / JPMorgan Chase [-8]
    • IVR: Wachovia [+3] / JPMorgan Chase [-6]
    • Email: JPMorgan Chase [+1] / Wachovia [-4]
    • Agent interactions: Wells Fargo [+1] / JPMorgan Chase [-7]
    • Channel transitions: Wells Fargo [-2] / JPMorgan Chase [-7] 
  • While CCR evaluates 57 criteria, it turns out that all four banks received the lowest possible score on the following 7 criteria: Read more of this post

USAA Leads And Citibank Lags In Customer Advocacy

Forrester just published Customer Advocacy 2008: How US Consumers Rate Their Banks, Brokerages, And Insurers which is an annual ranking of 41 financial institutions. For this analysis, customer advocacy is defined as:

The perception on the part of consumers that the firm does what’s best for its customers, not just the firm’s own bottom line.

It turns out that the customer advocacy ratings across all three groups of financial institutions dropped this year after increasing last year. And the overall rating across financial institutions is at its lowest level in five years.  Here are some other highlights of the rankings:

  • Top five firms: USAA (was also #1 in 2007), Independent financial advisor, Credit unions,  AAA, and State Farm.
  • Bottom five firms: Citibank (was also #41 in 2007), Regions Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and TD AMERITRADE.
  • Largest decline from last year: A.G. Edwards in brokerage, AIG and New York Life in insurance, National City in banking. 

The bottom line: As I’ve written to Citibank’s CEO Vikram Pandit in the past, Citibank needs a customer experience overhaul!

Forrester’s Finance Forum; Customer Experience Remains Critical

Today was the first day of Forrester’s Finance Forum 2008 (titled “How To Deliver Great Customer Experiences”) which is focused on Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD). After giving the keynote speech at this event for the past several years, I decided to take this year off (even though the topic is EBD). While my crazy schedule is keeping me from attending the event, I’m sure that Bill Doyle and Harley Manning will be awesome hosts and it will be a dynamite event, as always!

Since I’m not attending this year’s Finance Forum, I decided to take a look back at my speeches from the previous 2 years. I believe that the content is still extremely relevant…

Forrester’s 2007 Finance Forum

In last year’s Finance Forum 2007, my speech was called “Turning Customer Experience Into A Competitive Weapon.” The theme of that speech was “Customer experience is a production’” Just like with the movies, creating successful experience takes a lot of dedication from and coordination between the people on stage (front line employees) and those behind the scenes (everyone else).

The largest portion of the speech was dedicated to the three principles of Experience-Based Differentiation:

  1. Obsess about customer needs, not product features.
  2. Reinforce the brand with every interaction, not just communications.
  3. Treat customer experience as a competence, not a function.

I also highlighted data from a survey that we did with the American Banker which led to a piece of research called Banks Prepare For Customer Experience Wars. The survey showed that bank executives believe that customer experience is very important, but they don’t think they’re doing a particularly good job delivering it.

Read more of this post

Will Thompson’s Departure Hurt Wachovia’s Customer Experience?

Last week, Ken Thompson (Wachovia’s CEO) was asked to retire by the bank’s board of directors. What will that mean to the bank’s culture that has grown increasingly customer centric under his leadership? Here are a few factoids:

To get a sense of Thompson’s imprint on the bank’s customer-centric culture, I examined his letter to shareholders in Wachovia’s last 7 annual reports. They show a clear and consistent focus on customer experience as a strategic mission. Here are excerpts from each of those annual reports:

  • 2001: “The merger of First Union and Wachovia produced an improved market position, exciting growth potential and an operating strategy designed to generate enhanced shareholder value. We are focusing the resources of two fine companies on building a level of service, quality of product and degree of caring for customers that we believe will set Wachovia apart.”
  • 2002: “Delivering the Promise In 2003, we intend to demonstrate Wachovia can grow organically as well as anybody in our industry. To do so, our goals are to deliver: Best-in-class sales and service excellence; Best-in-class risk management and financial disclosure; and Top quartile earnings growth.”
  • 2003: “In every meeting of the merger integration team, the first comment when considering integration activity was “how will this affect our customers?”… We believe that having fully engaged employees who find real meaning in their work is crucial to our success. It is crucial to attracting and retaining the most talented people; it is crucial to providing consistently superior customer service; and ultimately it is crucial to enhancing shareholder value over the long term.”
  • 2004: “Our revenue and earnings performance in 2004 is no accident, but the result of several years of hard work during which all of our employees, from the top levels to the front line, focused their full attention on providing the best possible service experience for our customers.”
  • 2005: “With all of these advantages, we have no intention of taking our eyes off the ball. We’ll continue to focus on being the best at providing excellent service to our customers, at being the employer of choice, and in making a real and lasting contribution to the communities we serve.”
  • 2006: “Wachovia’s success in leading the industry in customer service for the last six years has attracted attention, and competitors are trying very hard to replicate our success… So in response we remain obsessive about our attention to service… While we earn high marks for the quality and breadth of our product offerings, we are challenging ourselves to be better at seamless coordination between delivery channels, alignment of incentive plans, and ensuring that competing priorities do not hurt our results.”
  • 2007: “While most of 2008 will likely continue to be a tough financial environment, we are focused foremost on two things: 1) Vigilantly and conservatively managing risk, and 2) Continuing to take good care of our customers. We believe that the actions we took in 2007 have already taken a lot of risk out of our company, and when the external environment once again improves, we’ll benefit from our steadfast focus on our core businesses and on our customers.”

Other execs can learn a lot from Thompson. He understands a key formula in retail banking: employee engagement leads to good customer experience which leads to higher loyalty which leads to growth. This excerpt from the 2004 annual report represents a blueprint for all CEOs who want to transform their firm’s customer experience:

Our longtime shareholders will recall, however, that it was not that long ago – 1999 – when our customer service had slipped, and we learned a hard lesson in customer attrition. One of my first actions when I became CEO in mid-2000 was to tackle service quality. We increased staffing levels in our financial centers, call centers, and operations area. We revised our incentive compensation plans to emphasize not only sales performance, but service as well. We instituted a clear measurement system to track customer satisfaction through our Gallup surveys of 60,000 to 70,000 customers quarterly. And I chair the monthly meeting of senior managers that ensures we quickly address any operational or system issues that create obstacles to providing good customer service.

The bottom lineGreat customer experience takes Thompson-like leadership.

Bank Of America Takes Comments, But What Is It Hearing?

There was an article in the Boston Globe this week called “Feedback, even if it hurts” which talked about how companies like Bank Of America are allowing customers to provide feedback on their Web sites. So I decided to go take a look at Bank Of America’s customer feedback. Here’s what I found:

As you can see, 95% of people would recommend the BofA’s online banking, 85% would recommend its Bill Pay, 94% would recommend its mortgages, and 67% would recommend its mobile banking. And all of those products received more than 4 stars (in a five star rating).

That feedback was much more positive than what I expected given that banks didn’t fare so well in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index which ranked Bank Of America 91st out of 112 firms. So I looked at what consumers had to say about Bank of America on the Epinions site. It turns out that Bank of America came out with a rating of 2 out of 5 stars:

Hmmmm….  These are clearly two different sets of feedback: One positive, and one not so positive. What’s happening here?!?!?

My take: Let me start by saying that I have no reason to believe that Bank Of America is doing anything to alter the scores on their site. I think that there’s merit in what a spokesperson for Bank of America said about the difference between feedback sites:

There are many other sites that allow product ratings of our products but those sites can not guarantee those customers are even Bank of America customers. We guarantee these are truly Bank of America customers since we validate which accounts they own, which is something the other rating sites cannot promise.

It’s likely that the need for customer authentication on the Bank of America site has some influence on the types of comments that are being left. People tend to be freer with their comments when they can stay anonymous. In any case, it’s clear that companies need to look at feedback on their own sites as well as feedback from other sources.

A word of caution: Getting access to feedback is only one part of a voice of the customer (VoC) program. Companies often spend the bulk of their time/effort trying to get the feedback, and not nearly enough time figuring out what to do with it.  That’s why good VoC programs are built around LIRMing, which means they have a formalized approach to Listening, Interpreting, Reacting, and Monitoring

The bottom line: Allowing customers to post comments does not constitute listening to the voice of the customer.

John Hancock Repositioning Provides Lesson About Empty Promises

John Hancock announced a new ad campaign called “Cursor” that showcases two areas: the rise of digital communications and the opportunity for financial success. It is trying to reintroduce the company to the public as a relevant and inspirational brand. Here’s how Jim Bacharach, vp-advertising at John Hancock described the campaign:

The thinking behind the campaign was to recognize where consumer sentiment is today. The unstable economy is a source of anxiety for a lot of folks. One of the key differences from what we’ve done in the past is that today, more than ever, these conversations take place through electronic media.

My take: Right below is the John Hancock homepage (from earlier this week). Other than the discussion of the new “Cursor” ad campaign in the lower right, is there anything about this page that reinforces the notion of relevance, inspiration, or digital conversations?

I didn’t bring this up to pick on John Hancock’s Website or even to discuss its repositioning efforts. Instead, I wanted to (re)make a point that advertising alone can not reposition a company.

While ad campaigns can certainly introduce new brand promises, repositioning can only occur of the company actually keeps those promises during all of its interactions. That’s why the second principle of Experience-Based Differentiation is: Reinforce the brand in every interaction, not just communications.

Without designing all touchpoints to fulfill the new brand promises, the hope for repositioning is likely to just lead to empty promises:

Probability Of Success For Branding Efforts

Positioning And Scope Of Effort

The bottom line: Don’t waste your marketing dollars on empty promises.

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