Customers Choose the Branch for Problem Resolution

Despite the best intentions of financial-service institutions, some retail banking customers will experience an issue that has the potential to compromise how those customers perceive the institutions. By The MSR Group’s math, the “some” is about one-fifth of bank customers, a contingent large enough to give bank executives pause.

But that’s not the end of the story: While we live in a world increasingly dominated by phone-to-phone communication, when it comes to resolving a problem initiated at the branch, eight out of 10 times the customer will attempt to do so by returning to the same branch, rather than go online, click on an app or contact the call center—this according to data culled from The MSR Group’s quarterly National Banking Study. Further, when the problem is resolved at the branch where the problem occurred, satisfaction with the resolution is significantly higher (57%) as compared to seeking it somewhere else (48%).

It almost seems counterintuitive for a customer to call upon the bank employee who allegedly created the problem to fix it, especially when a more convenient, time-sensitive solution (e.g., online, app, call center) is available. But put yourself in the place of a disgruntled customer and it does make sense. First, the customer believes that the only person who truly understands the issue is the one who created it. Returning to the source of their dissatisfaction means they don’t need to get someone from call center up to speed, nor will the call-center representative understand how much time and effort was spent at the branch originally. The call-center representative may say they’re empathic, but only the branch employee can truly be empathic because there’s a prior history. Further, allowing the branch employee to resolve the problem gives both parties closure; ultimately, the customer doesn’t want to be failed, but they don’t want the employee to feel like a failure, either.

Understanding that the customer prefers to resolve an issue at the bank is an opportunity for banks to salvage a relationship dinged by the branch’s mistake. Banks need to make sure that the way they handle issues is done so with a smiling face that customers can see. Customers gave the bank an opportunity to make it right, so banks should make sure it’s done right when, eight times out of 10, they come back in.