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.

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!

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