In Order for Customer Service To Be Great, It Cannot Be Free

In Order for Customer Service To Be Great, It Cannot Be Free

Community banks are known to give attentive and personal service. For the most part, these banks have attracted and developed employees who have an authentic and genuine concern for the well being of others. Helping others is often what attracts individuals to work at a bank. Employees readily understand the contribution that great customer service makes to a bank, its customers and its community. Unfortunately many bank associates have created a culture that confuses “great service” with “waived fees” or “special rates.” Given the current economic pressure on banks, it is critical for employees to learn this distinction.

Bank associates who deliver genuine customer service expect and should be paid competitively. If the bank does not properly charge for its services, it cannot afford to properly pay the associates who deliver the service. On a larger scale, if the bank is not adequately compensated and the bank owners do not receive the level of income they seek, they may eventually find it necessary to sell the bank. The result has the potential to reduce the service levels to customers and will likely eliminate important well paying jobs in the bank. No community will want to lose a bank’s home office.

Banks should be sure their pricing is reasonable and then confidently and expectantly collect the revenues for ongoing services. When necessary, employees can connect the concepts for the customer by explaining that the rate or fee is what actually pays for the employee to be available to consistently give premium service.

For example, no reasonable consumer would expect a car dealer to give them free or consistently discounted repairs (non warranty) because they purchased the car there and might buy one in the future. The payment for the car covered the purchase transaction and warranty – that’s it. The dealer has to be compensated for the parts and service going forward. Banks can change their culture to one that will sustain competitive salaries and the bank’s longevity when the associates learn their diligent and caring service deserves and requires compensation.

About the Author

Kelly Karns is President of Karns Profit Improvement®, an independent Oklahoma-based financial consulting firm that has specialized in growing the profits of community banks in a multi-state area since 1986.