Listen to these two comments on different branches of the same highly rated bank: “I wanted to leave the branch and never come back,” said one, while another mystery shopper compared another branch of the same bank to visiting a five stars hotel.
1 March 2011 – PwC and Senteo Inc present the results of the annual retail banking sector “Customer Experience Index 2010: The state of retail banking following the financial crisis” Survey. The survey covers 90 retail banks from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia and Ukraine and rates them on the basis of five core elements of customer experience: Brand, Communication, Environment, Offering and Culture. There is no surprise that the Czech banking sector achieved the highest evaluation from among the surveyed markets. Nevertheless, the survey gave the banks many lessons from a detached view point through the eyes of the mystery shoppers.
The Customer Experience Index (CEI) was created to provide a new benchmark for retail banks and a tool for measuring the quality and consistency of customer experience. The CEI ranks banks based on their performance in key areas that are of particular importance to potential customers: Brand, Communications, Environment, Offering and Culture. The Czech Republic held the leading position in all indicators. However, the tightest results were in “Culture”, measuring how branch staff interacts with customers and the quality of service provided.
“The overall quality of customer service provided by Czech banks is on developed European standards. However, there is still room for improvement in branch staff behaviour, creating a personal impression, in many banks. How well bank employees interact with customers is crucial for his/her decision to bank with certain institutions. This is especially true in the local market with well informed customers, many of whom hold accounts with more than one bank,” commented Chris Barrett, CEE Financial Services leading advisory partner, PwC Czech Republic.
The Customer Experience Index did not only valuate the financial institutions from the customer’ point of view, but, at the same time, it analysed costs and benefits of customer-friendly behaviour of banks. For example, the highly rated banks, i.e. those that are most attractive for customers were able to charge 65% higher annual commission for even such commoditised products as a debit card than those that scored the lowest.
“The survey confirmed our expectation that the client is willing to pay extra for better customer service. In fact, the clients do not complain about high fees. They object rather when they do not receive appropriate service for their money,” said Chris Barrett.
From among the other impressions, what was the experience from Czech banks?
“Poor furniture in a luxury building. I didn’t feel good there.”
“Even with the address I couldn’t find it.”
“The branch represents the brand 100%. Even carpets and wall’s painting were in corporate colours.”
“The branch is quite small which in combination with design, colours and style creates a very familiar atmosphere and brings value to the clients.”
“If you find the materials, they are great”
“Some promotional holders were empty, other were organised. I felt like I was shopping in a fruit market.”
“Pleasant atmosphere including a corner for children.”
“Everywhere I could wait I could read something.”
“I do not feel that I am getting anything special when I open an account in this bank. I was only offered a bonus up to CZK 900 if I refer a new client.”
“The branch did not have up-to-date leaflets of some new products. Only black and white copies of them were available.”
“Commercial broadcast on flat screens inside the branch.”
“I was completely lost in the building and there was nobody to advise me.”
“Even if there were a private corner/office for offering products it is still an open space. People in the branch can hear private information which is not comfortable”
“It is hard to distinguish employees from customers.”
“The front room of the branch is untidy and dirty.”
“At times during the visit, I couldn’t recognise if I was still in a bank or in a 5 stars hotel.”
“My experience with this banker was very unpleasant and frustrating. I would not recommend this branch to anybody.”
“The banker was not willing to communicate with me and told me that all information was available on the internet.”
“A saleslady was a very nice person with a human approach so I was very surprised when she told me at the end of our discussion that she will refer me to her colleague as it was her last day at work.”
“I was not offered any discount or advantage. Additionally, I was told that as a new client I would get a worse interest rate compared to permanent clients.”
“According to the banker there is no official price list relevant to bank accounts and debit cards. “
“The employee was only able to find the proper brochure. He did not even try to sell the product. Too passive.”
“I got all the information in a few minutes. The banker knew everything.”
“I arrived to find a completely empty branch. All the employees were either smoking outside or hidden somewhere in the back of the branch. I had to wait at least 5 minutes until someone showed up.”
“Some employees seemed to be more interested in choosing a restaurant for lunch than paying attention to potential new customers.”
“I had to wait a few minutes until the banker finished her phone call with her boyfriend.”
“Even though the branch was empty, the banker was looking at me as some kind of intruder. He was neither helpful nor professional. I didn’t feel important at all.”
“I felt that I was bothering her. I was absolutely outside her interest.”
“I was sent away for 20 minutes to have a coffee, because they had a meeting.”
“Even the security staff welcomed me and offered me his help.”
“Sales person was very enthusiastic and positive. He definitively loves his job.”
Note to Editors
PwC (CEE) and Senteo have partnered together to produce joint projects aimed at helping clients to deliver a unique, positive, and memorable “Customer Experience” as a way to achieve greater sales, profitability, and customer loyalty in the retail banking setting.
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