Hey Bank, wanna be an Airport?

Last week I was reminded how fortunate we are in banking. No, not fortunate, lucky. No, not lucky, immensely damn spoiled!

I spoke at an event called CX Ireland and while listening to everyone else before my turn came, I felt tempted to repeat the same sense of awe and shock in every 140 characters as I realised I couldn’t live tweet points of data I was gathering from the speakers because it had absolutely no relevance to us in banking. None.

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The professionals on stage knew and cared about the amount of clients that will be lost with every bad interaction point. How many of them would never recommend at the end of a month of merely average service. How designing the right experience could double the number of new clients. How it’s imperative to test leadership’s commitment to CX. The magic of connecting NPS as a score to make CX the business of the entire organisation. How to delight customers or perish. All of this is so disconnected from our industry I felt I could be live tweeting from a Dr Who conference so after a few stunned facts and some shocking numbers I stopped.

When the head of the Dublin Airports Insights took the stage she started by saying “we all have terabytes of data in real time but true insight that’s rare, we only get that once every few years” – how utterly inspiring they even made the distinction or really that they even have the job title and appetite considering they should have an even higher degree of inertia seeing how they are the de facto monopoly. Yet they care about being a beloved brand so deeply they test and tweak their airport experience around their different types of travellers experience until they obsessively click on that smiley green face button of the satisfaction meter they dared place everywhere.

One the many things she spoke about with intense passion was the experiment they run of strapping a heart monitor to airport travellers and asking them to go about their normal run. Unsurprisingly their heart rate neared heart attack levels when they passed security and helped them arrive at the concept of “customer happy hour” as it settled and elation replaced the terrified moment and travellers started spending like there’s no tomorrow once they found themselves airside.

A brand does this kind of thinking. A brand cares. A brand is curious and a perfectionist. A brand therefore wins.

There’s a lot of similarity between banking and airports. The de facto near-monopoly. The experience being both high frequency commoditized and connected to intensively important life events. There is a lot that’s different too. We in banking are not all that invested in the customer being nudged to buy more with us. We don’t have to be scary to our consumers, we’re not protecting world peace and security by any of our processes. Maybe the most important difference is that we don’t care like they do. After all why should we? None of the other numbers mean anything to us, who in banking is afraid of the youtuber Zoella giving them a bad review that will result in lost customers?


Here’s what we are going to do banks. We’ll change all this. We’ll buy some of those silly customer satisfaction stands with the happy faces and place them in every branch. We’ll strap heart monitors to people faced with inputting both memorable words and password and pins before they can see their account balance online. We’ll start designing and obsessively re-tweaking those happy hour experiences.

We will, right?

Right?!? If not then maybe FinTech can come up with an airport API so we can threaten Dublin airport’s business because they are sure smart enough to see there is now technology and ample room in customer dissatisfaction to threaten ours.

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