Service in the digital era

Blog, Monday 17 July 2017

Last week, an acquain­tance of mine went to a Dutch bank. When he walked in, a host­ess clutch­ing an iPad was wait­ing cour­te­ous­ly to wel­come him. It was a good start, but it didn’t last long. Because when my acquain­tance asked to speak to an advi­sor, some­thing strange happened.

The so-called hostess snapped that it was far too busy for that. Problem, hassle, rather not. The customer had to wait at least half an hour, but was allowed to grab “his own” coffee in the meantime. And all that whilst he had a large sum of money on him. In the end, that half hour turned into an hour.

Fortunately, Amsterdam now also has an Apple Store. They welcome you with iPads there too.

But first they grin at you and ask you in a friendly manner how they can help. The iPads in the Apple Store are an aid to help you as quickly as possible; not for hiding behind.

The Apple Store has over 10 times as many customers, but they still help you in as friendly and swift a manner as possible. And you are always made to feel welcome.

Two concept stores with the same digital aids. At one store, you are a customer and they will solve a problem with your iPhone or iMac quickly and free of charge. At the other, you turn up with a vast quantity of cash and are seen as an inconvenience.

Digital or not, personal service is still crucial. In any business. How welcome and wanted you feel as a customer is still one of the main factors that determines customer loyalty.

Service is hard to find at the bank and banks only have a little time in which to prevent themselves from becoming superfluous. If those in top positions at the bank fail to understand that the entire bank service culture needs to change, any investments made in advanced digital aids are futile.

After all, apps and devices can never replace personal service, however good and efficient they may be. Because customers are people, after all. Or at the moment they are, anyhow.

Don Kouwenhoven

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