How Bank of America is reshaping customer service
The pandemic has radically changed the way companies do business, forcing many to rethink their approach to customer service. Over the past year, consumers have also reassessed their priorities and expectations of the brands they support, prioritizing meaningful and personalized experiences.
According to a Salesforce survey, 62% of customers said their experience in one industry influences their expectations of others. This means that consumers make mental comparisons between service approaches and assess their affinity with the brand on everything except on an “apples to apples” basis.
Unfair or not, forward-thinking marketers of all types of businesses are reshaping their CX approach in a post-pandemic world. Bank of America has taken significant steps in formulating a customer service strategy to deal with this unique environment.
We had the opportunity to speak with Ashley Ross who leads Customer Experience at Bank of America. Here she shares the lessons learned throughout the pandemic, all of which are invaluable for companies wishing to adapt to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Ashley shared three key principles for building a successful customer service strategy.
1) Treat customers like individuals, not numbers: No two clients are the same. Put personalization at the center of your CX strategy, tailoring products, solutions, advice and guidance to meet their unique needs. This will be a major goal for Bank of America over the next 3-5 years. Brands that leverage customer feedback and data can better understand individual needs and improve customer satisfaction.
2) Invest in digital: As digital channels continue to increase, brands that deliver value by enabling customers to self-serve and solve common problems or quickly escalate others will rise to the top. In fact, as of early July, over 70% of Bank of America customers were actively using digital channels to manage their financial lives. Remember, it’s important to complement your CX with in-person offers that are just as important to customers.
3) Leading with empathy: Empathy is a fundamental part of the customer experience, especially given the challenges that many people continue to face today. Continuing education is essential to help employees maintain their soft skills while helping clients overcome unique challenges. Most importantly, always lead by example. A company that values the well-being of its employees is better able to create a culture that extends into interactions with customers.
Bank of America has successfully used polls to get genuine feedback. The bank has launched a ‘Voices’ survey initiative, and since the launch of the program, Voices has completed 50 million surveys, including 12 million in 2021 alone. Surveys are implemented on the basis of interactions in a bank branch and online.
The assessment criteria are similar in nature to the NPS scoring and the results are centrally integrated into a decision engine for analysis and action. The bank is also reviewing the text comments to learn more about the responses.
Among the key findings, Bank of America learned that customers value associate banking. They were able to leverage these associates flexibly to better serve customers, and in one case, redeployed more than 3,000 branch associates to handle increasing call center volumes.
Greater personalization has been achieved through better data management, and the Life Plan financial wellness program has been a vehicle through which Bank of America makes every interaction more personal for customers. Life Plan is a digital offering that tracks short and long term goals, helping to create a personal life plan in the process. This digital connection is reinforced by connecting participating clients with an associate of the bank branch.
Launched in fall 2020, over 5 million customers have committed to creating a financial plan and this participation has crossed every demographics. As a result of these efforts, Bank of America was recently ranked # 1 in Financial Wellbeing by JD Power and Associates.
Ashley highlighted another important element of the bank’s customer service strategy, saying:
“The choice is important. You have to make the experience easier and make it a choice. It’s important to understand the customer journey and how they want to interact with your brand. Then you need to take steps to make it easy for them to interact with you on their preferred channel.