Internal Decisions Killing Customer Culture

A few weeks ago, Ken Henry, the Chairman of the NAB, stated that it would take “10 years for the NAB to fix its cultural issues” and that “boards should not be responsible for “ensuring” eradication of misconduct inside a bank”.
To be honest, as a customer of the NAB I have to say he is right on the money. NOTHING seems to be changing since those statements and as a result, “if nothing changes, nothing changes!”
Let me give you just one example.
Yesterday I had to go to the bank for one of our businesses. As soon as I walked in the doors, I knew this was not going to be a pleasant experience.
Here is my first point.
If you as a business know you have a cultural issue (and have made that admission extremely public), especially from a customer experience perspective, first impressions are key. Not changing anything, especially after making such a public statement about internal issues, seems to be short sighted.
Anyway, I joined the que of waiting customers. As I am a weird creature, I counted the amount of people in the line in front of me (ok, patience is not something that I can ever find).
There were 9 people waiting to be served before me.
Now as the comments of the Chairman were bouncing around in my head, I looked further to see how many efficient staff were waiting to serve those loyal customers……. There were just 2 at their counters.
Now slap me sideways, but one would imagine, that I you knew you had a customer centric cultural issue, the first thing you would do is provide MORE SERVICE to those customers, so they would see that they are valued to that business! You would want o have a public display of CHANGE!
Apparently not.
Then you could have blown me over with a feather. One of the staff serving customers, locks her draws and states to her colleague that she “is going on her break now”.
I know that you are thinking…. she is entitled to a break. And yes, I agree with you, but here’s the issue.
This was at 10am. The bank opens at 9.30, there are 10 people patiently standing in line, so the last thing that anyone would see as a great solution to an already tarnished reputation, is to now walk away from those customers.
But wait, all is about to change. There was a solution that was then swiftly offered.
Unbeknown to us patiently waiting customers, there was an office filled with 3 other staff members having a “meeting”. By now the whispering of the waiting mob had started to become a bit louder due to now being down to just 1 serving staff member (I agree it wasn’t her fault).
So, the solution came swiftly from “management”. 2 of the 3 staff that were in their “meeting” walked up and down the line to see if they could escort the customers out to the teller machine to do their transactions.
Here is my second point.
Real people like dealing with real people. If a business has a “cultural issue”, then directing customers to machines will not fix that issue, it will only prolong or exasperate it.

After no one wanted to go to the non-speaking machine out the front as a viable option, the staff quickly retreated back to their office and swiftly shut the door. The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” seemed to pop into my head.
The one thing that that bank did yesterday was cement in those customers heads that the Chairman was exactly correct. The banter in that line was full of fervour but not in a positive way.

You see culture is something that needs constant DELIBERATE action. It isn’t something that is great just to have on a mission statement somewhere in a head office, it needs action.
Too many businesses these days are coming up with internal decisions that are killing their customer culture, but it seems that it is not even considered.

Here’s another example. Look at Fast Food restaurants that would prefer the customer to go to a screen and punch in their order instead of interacting with a human being. Soon they too will be stating that their customers aren’t as loyal as they used to be.
Or supermarkets that now are directing customers to line up in long lines to “self-checkout” whilst 10 or more registers stay closed, then they provide 2 staff to watch you to ensure you are doing it right, paying for that bloody bag, and not miss scanning any items.
Customer focused culture needs to include ACTUAL interactions with the customers and not mechanised ones. Otherwise you are giving your customers at best, an annoying experience, or at worst, no experience, which now gives them CHOICE!

It seems just like chefs who serve food that they have never actually tasted themselves, there are many businesses who are coming up with “great ideas” with regards to customer experience, but they have never actually been tried and tested from a customer culture impact perspective.