Remarkable But Not In A Good Way
The inertia of banking customers is astonishing. I have been with my bank for over 20 years and never really contemplated switching despite occassional frustrations. Banks know that I'm displaying the archetypal customer behaviour and thus don't offer very much different from their competition. It increasingly resembles a commodity business albeit one with premium product profits.
But now, in the interest of offering me more choice (have you heard that line before?), they're actually making my experience worse. Every time I use an ATM, I monitor my balances by printing out a slip - a simple task that was, logically enough, a one step process. Until very recently that is. My bank that I shall not name initially has suddenly imposed an extra screen on me. So now I have to use twice as many button presses to obtain that slip. Usability halved in one fell swoop. And this for what I imagine to be one of the major needs of ATM users.
Ironically, this comes at a time when banks are starting to make claims about theirs being a retail environment and marketing themselves that way via additional offers and gimmicks such as half-price sales days! So, I wrote to the head of marketing to question this diminution of the customer experience. In the interim, I noticed a newspaper columnist complaining of a similar over-complication at the same bank, so I was wondering if the feedback message was getting through to head office. Clearly not, the response I received this morning was breathtaking.
"To accomodate the new charity donations and mobile phone top-up functions, we have re-arranged the initial menu screens, with the balance enquiry function now spread over two steps.
Whilst we are continually looking to improve on the automated services that we be bring to you through cash machines, changes such as these are NECESSARY (my capitals) to allow for new services to be introduced."
Imposed services in a customer-focussed busines. Yet another Paradox of Choice.