Out of touch and out of mind?

Blogpost by Nathalie Schooling

I recently had a series of frustrating experiences that told me in no uncertain terms that my bank has very limited understanding of my needs. Knowing your customer and their pain points is essential in gaining and retaining advantage in a competitive landscape.

In our 2020 FINANCIAL SERVICES TEMPERATURE CHECK we asked, “How important is  Voice of Customer in terms of your CX strategy and the impact of customer / client sentiment has on your bottom line?”

All respondents (except the auditors) answered: “Vital for our business to understand client/customer sentiment.”

In the two years since then, few of us have visited banks. ATMs in locked-down malls blinked their little “hide your pin” messages to themselves for much of that time. And sure, we’ve all got very friendly with online banking and the various delivery services. But you know what, now that we’re out and about again, sometimes we need cash.

FNB has probably got 90% of my personal and professional business; I have a private banker, which is a safety net I like having because I can actually speak to a human being who knows me and my profile; FNB’s online banking platform is also really great, in my opinion… However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find their ATMs.

Recently while at Constantia Village shopping centre, I went to draw money and discovered that not only were they closing the branch, they were also removing the ATM – and wouldn’t be replacing it. I was told by a superbly rude bank employee that if I wanted to draw money, I would have to drive to Main Road, Plumstead, and draw money at their branch there; alternatively, I could go into Pick n Pay and draw money at the cashier.

Much to my irritation, I then spent 10 minutes waiting in a Pick n Pay queue only to be told by the cashier-teller that I could not draw money, as they were waiting for the money “to be delivered”.

Today I went to Cavendish Square, also in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs, to draw money. Now “hunt the ATM” is a game one has been expected to play at Cavendish fairly regularly. They move them around like we have all the time in the world for a scavenger hunt without clues (there are never any signs or posters to tell you where the next location is). Wise to this, I went to the information desk, where I was told that I could draw money from their branch in Dreyer Street, which is near Taxi Central, ie Main Road, Claremont.

We live in such a safe country that I feel super safe drawing cash in an open environment. NOT!

What the actual, FNB?

What about the other popular shopping centres in this node – Belvedere, Palmyra, Dean Street … Not an FNB ATM in sight.

Is it just FNB, or do those of you reading my rant have the same or similar experience with your bank?

Do you not remember a time when people opened accounts based on the spread of your ATMs, FNB? We are not as yet, a cashless society. Besides me and my peers who still need cash occasionally, spare a thought for the elderly and those who don’t have access to the internet.

Are you so desperately greedy that you’ve convinced yourselves that online is where it’s all at and ever more shall be world without end amen?

Have you not factored the ABnormal of the last two years into your decision, and the possibility of a return to the OLD normal?

Have you asked your clients what THEY need?

This is going to do almost as much damage as putting your social media in the hands of someone you chose to call RB Jacobs. But this time it will be incremental. In your hubris you probably won’t even see it creep up on you. But it will. Because you know what? You’re coming between us and our hard-earned cash. You’re making it difficult to do business with you.

Admit it, this bricking up of holes in the wall and rationalising of branches is because it’s convenient and cheaper for you – it has zip to do with your customers’ needs and wants.

We all know about the cash-in-transit heists. If that’s the issue, well thank you so much for increasing my personal insecurity to improve yours. You have dealt your fantastic brand loyalty a massive dent.

I wish banks would put their egos aside and have agnostic ATM’s – surely that would be a win-win for all?  It would cost less for the banks and they could pass the cost saving onto their customers and we could draw money at any ATM.