Tuesday, August 21, 2012
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Banking is a service business. Although something of a cliche, it is undeniably true. It is true that price and other convenience factors often play a role. However, most banking customers identify "service" as the, or a primary, factor in their decision in choosing a bank. And long-term customer satisfaction is closely correlated with profitability.
Stated differently, treating our customer right, even at the expense of very short-term profits, is usually more profitable over the longer term. It is an indisputable fact that it costs FAR more to find a new customer than to retain an existing customer. We all know this.
Before we discuss service recovery, it is worth a few words on service in general. As a bank, we service our customers every day and in countless ways. While most things go right, sometimes things go wrong - which leads to "service failure." Service failure occurs when, for whatever reason, the service chain is broken and a customer's expectations are not met.
I am not speaking of unrealistic customer expectations, but the realistic type. A customer's checks wind up, somehow, in the wrong statement. Or a customer's payment is applied to the wrong account, triggering a late charge. We can likely think of many more examples that are simply unavoidable in many cases.
Which brings us to service recovery: Service recovery is the manner in which we handle a service failure. Most customers understand that mistakes and errors happen - they are simply interested in getting things straightened out as soon as possible - with the least pain possible. And customer satisfaction is very closely related to service recovery, or stated differently "how problems are handled."
Interestingly, there is a concept known as the "service recovery paradox." The service recovery paradox refers to the heightened customer satisfaction that arises from a problem handled very well versus a lower level of customer satisfaction had the original problem (service failure) never even occurred!
A decade ago, some companies were knowingly de-emphasizing their focus on service standards, and placing much greater emphasis on service recovery. Some studies have shown that overall customer service indeed improved in such environments.
Although the service recovery paradox is an interesting academic concept, we do not wish to de-emphasize our commitment to quality service, or intentionally allow service failures. Our standards of excellence are incompatible with such a scenario. Instead, while we will always strive for the highest quality service possible. In the rare yet inevitable event that a service failure does occur, our staff will go that extra mile, or extra ten miles to make the situation right - within reason. For this, you have our pledge.
13 Years and Still Growing
What were you doing on August 24, 1999? GCF Bank was preparing for whatever consequences Y2K would wreak on our computer system.
Keeping customers abreast of our progress was a key component of these efforts. Our ability to safeguard your accounts, and assuring your uninterrupted access to them, was vital. Our relationship is based on your trust.
Hence GCFlash was born. What began as a means to inform our customers how we would overcome the impending doom forecast by the media has grown into a weekly publication.
Yet our mission has remained the same. We no longer worry what will happen when a computer has to process a 21st Century date. But we do face continuing threats and issues never imagined way back in the 1900s.
Our main purpose today is to make our readers aware of the multitude of security threats, risks, scams and ploys lurking in the silicone that is now part of daily life. Crooks no longer try to sell snake oil on street corners. They hide behind the anonymity of cyberspace.
Keeping our customers armed with the latest security information is our ongoing gift to you. It's something you will always take with you, no matter where your browser may travel.
We've featured articles to help you understand basic computer tools like Understanding Firewalls. These resources are all designed to complement the vast amount of information you'll find in our Security Center.
Learn about new products here first. We'll announce developments as they occur like we did with Touch Banking and Popmoney. And you'll find a quick link to our current rates in every issue.
Certainly financial and economic news is a key ingredient in GCFlash. We print tax tips, teach kids about money or reveal trends in the financial industry like credit card reform.
But with a weekly publication, you have to mix up the topics. There's only so much material we can offer on any one subject. Money is no exception.
So we try to offer consumer news wherever possible. This is relevant in every life. Here you'll learn about new technology being developed, what is the peak time of the year to purchase specific products or new laws being enacted. We leave product ratings to folks best suited like Consumer Reports or Cnet.com.
There will be family issues covered in GCFlash. We all deal with some aspect of family life; whether it's travel tips, a family member or neighbor in the military, finding a nursing home, dealing with the holidays after the loss of a loved one or back-to-school tips.
And we lighten things up with little tidbits such as Web Highlights, the Day in History, inspirational Quote and trivia Fact.
The staff of GCFlash has remained pretty stable over the years. Those of you who missed their introduction can find them in Meet the Staff.
You'll find past GCFlash issues going back three years on our website. Use the Search Box at the top of each page to refer back to a subject of your interest.
We love it when a reader takes the time to write, whether or not they agreed with our commentary. We do appreciate hearing your opinion. Try as one might, it can be hard to remove personal opinion from every piece one writes. Those times when it creeps in, we label the article Editorial so readers understand they're getting personal opinion rather than the view of GCF Bank or its management.
This newsletter can only be successful when it best serves our customers. And we can only do that through your continued feedback. Send an email to email@example.com with your comments, suggestions for future content, or even to challenge me with a little sports trivia if the urge strikes. It's all welcome.
Thank you for being a loyal GCFlash reader.
Stocks traded lower today, continuing the market's persistent sideways move. It is unlikely the markets will move decisively until after November's election removes some economic uncertainty.
Other interesting headlines today include:
Apple Computer (AAPL) achieved a market capitalization of about a trillion dollars, making it the most valuable company in U.S. history. Founder Steve Jobs, who passed away last October, must be smiling down on us, undoubtedly with great satisfaction. Apple's value surpassed even that of Microsoft, founded by Bill Gates, who was both Job's friend and arch rival.
Peter Thiel, Facebook's (FB) earliest investor, dumped another $400 million in Facebook stock, adding to the stampede to sell the beleaguered darling of Wall Street - whose share price is down to about half of its initial offering price from earlier this year. Don't feel too bad for Mr. Thiel though, as his original half a million dollar investment netted him, even at the reduced share prices, more than $1 billion. Pays to get in on the actual ground floor as opposed to the three ring circus that Facebook's IPO became.
Finally, a growing chorus of senior citizens are complaining that it is unfair that Uncle Sam is docking their social security checks to pay back delinquent student loans. It is unfair, they say. Really? After almost an entire lifetime, some senior citizens have not gotten around to paying back both banks and their fellow citizens (who ultimately guaranteed the debt). This is a sad testimony to what many Americans now consider "fair." To those of us who favor a true "balance of payments" system for government assistance, such episodes are further proof of why such a system is so sorely needed.
Next week I'll explain what a balance of payments system really is and how it would work.
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