Focus Groups Zero in on Customer Service Issues

In focus groups held this summer, the St. Louis Fed asked customers—from big banks to small ones—how they define excellent customer service. We also asked participants for candid responses about how we're doing and what we could do better. We learned a lot from these sessions.

When asked what key attributes they expect from service providers, participants emphasized providing personalized attention to individual problems, taking ownership of problems and proactively contacting customers to make sure problems have been resolved.

Among the top concerns noted for our Bank was inconsistency among those who provide customer service. Although the Fed has many star service providers, others have room for improvement. We heard you, and we're doing something about it.

To improve our contact information, we've revised our services directories and begun streamlining our telephone systems to make it easier for customers to reach the right person the first time. We've also introduced a seamless transfer process to make sure customers are routed to the appropriate contact quickly and accurately.

To improve the quality and consistency of our service, we're boosting our training efforts to help ensure well-rounded knowledge of all areas of the Fed and consistency in providing the right answers the first time. The training not only focuses on business knowledge but on the softer skills of customer service as well. We expect these changes to go a long way in improving our service.

In the April 2001 issue of Central Banker, we announced a comprehensive program to improve the service relationship customers have with the Fed. The changes that outlined here are the first steps in that effort. To gauge our progress, we'll introduce additional feedback tools and will proactively contact customers to ask how else we need to improve. For more information, contact Fran Sibley at (314) 444-8394 or 1-800-333-0810, ext. 44-8394.


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