Have you seen this footage of the aftermath when a woman allegedly rammed her car into the Boksburg branch of Standard Bank on Friday?

There’s a digruntled customer, and then there’s a really disgruntled customer.

According to reports, she had been waiting for more than five hours to be served at the bank. Following an altercation with a bank teller who refused to allow her to withdraw money because she jumped the queue, she allegedly exited the premises, got into her car and then drove straight into the bank.

Though there was considerable damage to the building, there were thankfully no injuries to staff or members of the public, and the woman was arrested immediately.

Clearly, there is no justification for such disregard to life, limb and law and order – but, this woman must have been utterly furious. Who knows what kind of pressures she was facing, or what situation led her to this total loss of control. Money is an emotive issue and when a bank won’t allow you access to YOUR money, that is a massive trigger point – as is five hours spent hanging out in a bank waiting for access to your own cash.

The fight or flight response is real.

This situation is extreme, of course, but I can empathise a little with the red mist that can descend when dealings with the bank are protracted. In this digital age where we are so accustomed to instant, automated transactions and have little tolerance for bureaucracy or delays.

I had to go in recently because there were some glitches with the online Forex system, and several visits and many wasted hours later I was yet to get the issue resolved – boy, did I feel like ramming my car into the bank on a few occasions during that process. Not that I would ever do it, of course. Honest.

There is a customer experience lesson to be learned here.

A representative of Standard Bank, Ross Linstrom, is quoted as saying that the client was “served in a professional manner and in line with client-service procedures.”

Sometimes, being ‘professional’ in a situation that is personal to the client merely serves as a red rag to a bull. Client service procedures are important, but what can so often be overlooked is that humans are unpredictable and they haven’t read your manual on how they should respond to your procedures. Particularly not after five hours.

In commoditised industries where organisations differentiate through better, richer customer experiences, especially when it comes to emotive subjects like personal finances, it is absolutely essential that staff are trained in handling and deescalating difficult situations.

Though this customer’s actions are extreme and beyond excuse, this incident highlights an important example of how conflict can escalate and confirms this point:

Emotions drive behaviour – straight through your front door if you’re not careful…

What is so often neglected by personnel in situations of conflict with clients is that businesses should not only be striving to achieve a practical solution to their client’s problem, but an emotional fix is often even more important. People want to feel heard and validated, they need empathy, and often even when their request cannot be granted, how they are treated on an emotional level can impact outcomes and deescalate conflicts that could otherwise get out of hand.

Customer-facing staff should be trained in identifying trigger points and red flags, as well as in advanced listening techniques and how to handle public conflict situations. Procedures are not enough – staff need the knowledge and the skills and understanding of human behaviour in order to take control of conflict.

nlighten’s customer experience training can help your business develop a business-wide culture of customer experience excellence. To find out more about turning your team into customer experience champions, contact us.

View the previous nlighten article by Nathalie Schooling: Customer Experience is About Substance Over Style

nlighten. enhancing customer experience: www.nlightencx.com

Customer Experience Masterclass: Get results by thinking like a customer experience pro – Invest a day in our value-packed interactive CX coaching. The quality of your customers’ experiences defines your success. | JHB – 9 October 2019