Who Says Banks Can’t Deliver WOW Customer Experiences?
My company is constantly on the lookout for stories of outstanding, or WOW customer experiences. We use them in our customer service training programs, to create customer service case studies, and to see which companies out there are truly customer-focused.
Sadly, out of the many hundreds we hear about every year, it is very rare that we find one about a bank. In fact, the last bank customer service story that we found hit #1 on our list of Bad Customer Service Stories of 2019. It was a story of how a U.S. Bank call center employee created a wonderful experience for a customer – then promptly got fired for doing it. (insert face-palm here).
Last month, however, was a different story. We got not one, but three stories of truly WOW customer experiences. All three of them from a bank — the same bank. This, from my experience, is a customer service unicorn of the highest order.
The Definition of a WOW Customer Experience
In 2014, The Belding Group developed a clear and quantifiable definition of a “WOW Customer Experience.” Up until then, it had always been a fairly ambiguous term — making it a virtually impossible target for companies to aim for. We defined a WOW Customer Experience as:
“One that people will think of first when in a discussion about a customer experience; and one that they feel will be interesting to others.”
This was the definition we used at the core of our groundbreaking research on the common elements of WOW experiences. The following three stories, from TBC Bank in Georgia, fit the definition perfectly.
WOW Customer Experience Story #1
A German tourist was just heading to the Tbilisi train station at the end of his vacation, and on the way, stopped at an ATM to withdraw some money. To his dismay, the card got stuck in the machine. He walked to a nearby TBC Bank branch, and got there just before closing. Employees, despite their best efforts, were unable to recover the card – and would not be able to retrieve it until morning. To make matters worse, it was already early evening, the tourist had already checked out of his hotel, and he had no cash left. He was stuck.
To help out, one of the TBC security employees invited the tourist to stay at his house – and treated him to a wonderful Georgian meal and Georgian wine. The next morning he was able to get his card, and leave Tbilisi with this experience as his final, lasting memory of his vacation.
This WOW experience has quickly become one of my favorites. In part, because it is so amazing; but also because I can’t really imagine it happening anywhere other than Georgia.
WOW Customer Experience Story #2
Covid, as we all know, has devastated businesses around the world. One TBC customer, a store owner, had been hit particularly hard, and she was not going to be able to make her loan payment to the bank. Her personal banker, Rusudan, explored every solution the bank had to offer, but none were going to be of any help.
She exhausted all the bank had to offer, and had reached a point where most loans officers would typically say something like “I’ve done my best, but we really can’t help.” But Rusudan decided to try one more thing.
On her own time, she visited the customer’s store, took photographs of the products, and created a Facebook shop. She then taught the customer how online shopping worked and helped her get things going.
Our research tells us that over 90% of WOW customer experiences involve an employee who takes ownership over a situation. What an incredible example.
WOW Customer Experience Story #3
A woman was driving to a town in Eastern Georgia with her toddler. Her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and she couldn’t get a towing service. Needless to say, she was worried. In desperation, she called the only person she could think of – her personal banker at TBC. (That, on its own, is pretty cool – but it gets better).
There really wasn’t anything the banker (Mery) could do. Instead of giving up, though, Mery called a colleague who worked close to where the woman was. Her colleague, in turn, called a friend who had a car, and together they drove the woman and her toddler to her destination.
Can you imagine someone at your bank doing any of these things? Me neither.
Are WOW Customer experiences really that important to a business?
Is WOW really something worth striving for? The answer to that question can be found within these three stories. How likely is it that these three customers will remain loyal to TBC? I would guess pretty likely. How many people do you suppose they told about their experiences? Well, the The average number of people that we will share a WOW customer service story with is now about 155. (I have one recent personal story that I have already shared with over five-thousand people in my keynote engagements).
WOW experiences touch on the very foundation of customer loyalty, and are opportunities we should all try to capture.
(Note: In full transparency, TBC Bank is a client of The Belding Group)