Jim S Miller

Thoughts on the Client Experience and Banking

Checklist Elevates Teller Performance

with 5 comments

What makes up a successful teller transaction?  Obviously, the teller needs to get the transaction right, but what else are customers looking for?  Our research at Prime Performance has shown that it is not complicated.  We looked at the importance of seven basic teller behaviors, and found that when they take place on every interaction, the result is satisfied customers.  None of the behaviors are complicated, hard to do, or can’t take place on each and every transaction.

In Atul Gawande’s fascinating book, The Checklist Manifesto, How to Get Things Right, the author explains two reasons why people fail; “The first is ignorance – we may err because science has given us only a partial understanding of the world and how it works.  There are skyscrapers we do not yet know how to build, snowstorms that we cannot predict, heart attacks we still haven’t learned how to stop.  The second type of failure the philosophers call ineptitude – because in these instances the knowledge exists, yet we fail to apply it correctly.  The skyscraper is built wrong and collapses, the snowstorm whose signs the meteorologist just plain missed, the stab wound from a weapon the doctors forgot to ask about.” Gawande focuses on how to solve the second problem, ineptitude.  His solution; “though it will seem almost ridiculous in its simplicity, maybe even crazy to those of us who have spent years carefully developing ever more advanced skills and technologies.  It is a checklist.

Prime Performance surveyed almost 3,000 bank customers who had performed a teller transaction within the last two weeks and asked about their experience and whether certain behaviors took place during the interaction.

Certainly some behaviors are more important than others.  Only 27% of customers were satisfied with their experience (gave an overall satisfaction score of 6 or 7 on a 1 to 7 scale) when their transaction was not handled quickly and accurately.  No matter how friendly and helpful you are, it is hard to make up for not getting the transaction right.  Yet once the basic needs of the transaction are met, the key to customer satisfaction is how you make the customer feel.  Many of the basic behaviors alone may not seem important to the customer, but the cumulative effect has an enormous impact on satisfaction. 

When less than three of the basic behaviors take place during a transaction, 54% of customers are satisfied with the service they received and 9% are dissatisfied (gave an overall satisfaction score of 1, 2 or 3 on a scale of 1 to 7), resulting in a net score of 46%.  Net score is the percent of satisfied customers less the percent of dissatisfied.  By performing 4 of the behaviors, 73% of customers are satisfied and 3% are dissatisfied.  When 6 of the 7 basic behaviors take place, 92% of customers are satisfied with only 1% dissatisfied.  When all 7 behaviors take place, 95% of customers claim they are satisfied with the service and 0% said they were dissatisfied.

There is no reason why all 7 behaviors should not take place with the customer, each and every time.  A simple checklist of 7 items would go a long way toward improving customer satisfaction.  Some of our bank clients use a laminated piece of paper about the size of a bookmark as their checklist.  Putting one of these at each teller station is a constant reminder of what they should do to make every customer feel good about their experience. 

The key to successfully elevating your client experience is consistency.  Front-line employees must understand what specific behaviors are expected during your perfect customer interaction.  Implementing a program like Prime Performance will allow you to make sure these expectations are being met in all of your branches by all employees.  If you see areas where this perfect experience is not happening, coaching tools are used to re-focus the line on the importance of these behaviors to your clients.  This iterative process, along with Senior Management support is a powerful combination which will result in increased overall satisfaction.

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Written by Jim S Miller

April 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Interesting post and some great information. I’ve added “Checklist Manifesto” to my weRead reading list. I’m surprised I didn’t already have it on there. Thanks.

    Tim Rueb

    April 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    • Hi Tim: I think you will like “Checklist Manifesto” which shows the difference a simple concept can make. Thanks for your comment.

      Jim

      Jim S Miller

      April 12, 2011 at 5:04 pm

  2. Jim: Thanks for the article – I read “Checklist Manifest” upon your suggestion, and I am amazed at how we neglect this incredibly useful tool. I once worked with a company where their teller line used a checklist for client interaction. We observed them for one hour, holding our own checklist and making sure that every behavior occurred. In that hour, the tellers averaged 3-4 referrals to the platform, since one of their checklist behaviors was asking the customer about a particular need with a tagline. Incredible. However, once we stopped the observation they trashed the checklist and referrals dropped back to the norm of maybe 2 referrals per week. Thanks again – great info! Donna

    Donna Highfill

    April 14, 2011 at 9:05 am

    • Donna: Glad you liked the book. Too often we look for complex solutions when there is a simple alternative…such as a checklist. Thanks for you comment.

      Jim

      Jim S Miller

      April 14, 2011 at 9:21 am

  3. […] Checklist Elevates Teller Performance (jimsmiller.com) […]


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