Providing a great customer experience (CX) is impossible if you’re not implementing excellent and measurable customer service across every channel on which your customers can be found.

It used to be that a consumer would only come into contact with a single customer service representative in person or on the phone. The overall CX would succeed or fail based on that single interaction, which is a lot of pressure, not just for the agent, but for the entire company.

In many ways things are only getting more difficult for retailers and service providers. As channels proliferate, giving people more decision making power, it’s now imperative that you’re providing excellent customer service in ways you didn’t know you needed to five years ago.

Then again, if your company is seen to be providing an abundance of help across all possible channels, this will be seen as a key differentiator between you and your competition.

Here we’ll be taking a look at NatWest to see how it manages to create customer satisfaction across a variety of online channels.

On-site

NatWest has recently undergone a website refresh, nothing particularly UX based has changed, but the aesthetic design has been improved with a richer colour scheme, bolder CTAs, larger typography and better defined navigation.

On the site I’m going to see how easy it is to order a new debit card to replace a damaged one. Something that I’ve struggled to achieve online in previous experience.

Here though it couldn’t be clearer, the option is found right under ‘cards’.

This opens a pop-out window, which requires you to fill out just two fields (and even if you don’t have your card to hand you can see the card number in your open account anyway) and after clicking submit you’re all done.

Frankly I’m surprised how easy this was. The confirmation screen also reminds me that it’s still possible to get cash out without my card using the mobile app, which is very considerate and perfectly timed.

Help

If you’re averse to using the menu navigation, there is the option of clicking on the ‘need help?’ tab.

This pulls out a menu with quick links to the most frequently asked questions.

These questions also changed according to which page you’re currently on when you click the tab. Here I’m on the ‘cards’ page and therefore I’m served questions related to that subject.

Clicking on one of the questions opens a pop-out window, which answers the question and provides a search box where you can ask another.

The information provided and the ease-of-use is excellent, my only criticism is that there’s no ‘ask a question’ option presented within the ‘need help?’ tab. I wouldn’t necessarily know that I could ask a different question after I click on one provided. 

Once I’ve asked my particular question “how long does a replacement card take to arrive?” the relevant answer doesn’t appear till halfway down page two of the results.

This could be improved by paying better attention to the relevancy of all the words used in my question, rather than just ‘long’ and ‘card’.

Live chat

Live chat is accessible from the pop-out help window once you’ve received an answer to your question, it’s also found within the ‘need help’ tab which appears throughout the web experience. 

Live chat is an online support service that provides instant help for consumers who are seeking immediate help from a customer service assistant in real time. 

In my experience I’ve found it an invaluable help channel, and this is certainly true of the NatWest web chat.

I was told straight away that I was number two in the queue, transparency is very helpful in this situation, but my chat was in fact answered immediately.

The customer service agent was polite, friendly, answered my questions relevantly and all within a couple of minutes. 

NatWest also shows a commitment to measuring and improving the quality of its customer service by asking to fill in a short survey after the chat. Drop-down menus where you’re picking a score out of 10 really help to speed this process up and should help encourage users to complete the form rather than clicking close.

Support/forum

Although I was disappointed at the lack of ability to ask a question directly on the account page or within the ‘need help’ tab, there is an entire area devoted to support linked to on the top menu.

Here you can ask your question in a large text field with a clear-as-day CTA.

From here you can also access the forum.

Forums are an excellent way to encourage peer-to-peer engagement, build a community and provide a place where your customers can access honest advice about a range of subjects. 

Of course this only works if your community is active enough and are generating plenty of content. Happily this seems to be happening within the NatWest forum.

For my search ‘debit card arrival’ I’m served a large amount of results all published within the last year.

Mobile

If you’re already a NatWest customer you may be well aware of its superb and easy-to-use banking app, but how does it handle enquiries?

Within the ‘more’ tab there are links to FAQs and a contact us page. In the FAQs page you’re provided with the most popular mobile banking enquiries divided by subject. When you click on one of the blue links at the top, you scroll automatically to the section.

If however you can’t find the help you require there is a link to NatWest’s mobile site within every section.

Here you can use the specifically built mobile site and access the same support features you found in the desktop site.

The only thing missing unfortunately is a mobile version of its web chat service.

Heading back into the app briefly, if you click ‘contact us’ you’re provided with this excellent contact page with clear ‘click-to-call’ buttons.

Social

Finally, a look at NatWest’s Twitter page. Social customer service https://econsultancy.com/blog/65478-how-20-top-uk-retailers-handle-social-customer-service is vital to every company’s customer experience success, whether you’re a retail brand, a brand, a B2B company and yes a bank.

Delivering quick, accurate and personalised responses to customer enquiries will make your company stand out from the rest, improve your perception in a very public way and create advocates of your customers.

NatWest operate a specific Twitter help channel, where it lists its operating hours clearly in the description.

The question I asked at lunchtime today was answered within 10 minutes,  accurately and with the respondents initials in case I need to follow up the enquiry at a later date.

In my experience of NatWest’s social customer service, answers generally arrive in 10-15 minutes with operation hours and are similarly helpful.

Retail banks are leading the way in social customer service, in a previous study https://econsultancy.com/blog/65510-how-16-retail-banks-handle-social-customer-service/ 100% of all the banks I contacted responded within 90 minutes and half of those were under 15 minutes.

Further reading…

For more on customer experience from the blog, check out our Masters of CX series which features true marketing thinkers and industry heavyweights covering the issues surrounding the customer experience approach and strategy.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 18 February, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (1)

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Paul Hatcher, Director at Hello You Digital Ltd

I am a business customer of Natwest and I have to say that the real-world online customer experience is pretty frustrating, and generally lags miles behind what you would expect from a bank - with all their resources - in 2015. It’s more like a 2005 experience in my view. Let me explain:

1. The new site design is merely a reskin of the old site. A tweaked stylesheet does not represent an improved good customer experience.

2. I am a business customer yet the interface indicates I’m in the Personal part of the site. Immediately confusing signposting.

3. Simple things you expect - like your debit and credit cards to be linked on the same interface - are not. You need 2 completely separate logins and 2 interfaces.

4. Live chat almost never appears. (I haven’t found it yet). The help tab is pinned to the right of the screen - often far away from your actual focus.

5. In fact, contacting them is pretty difficult, and it seems like they - depressingly like many - have a tactic of trying to give you everything but the phone number. Most contact links revolve around them wanting to sell you something.

6. The forum access is not easily found, and I bet most customers remain oblivious to it. To be frank, if I need to find out something about my account, why the hell do I need a forum? It’s a bank, not a hobby/developer site.

However, if you take to Twitter they respond very fast indeed. That’s one channel they excel at. And, to their credit, sorted out a problem very fast. Now, if they can apply that experience to the site itself, they might be onto something.

over 3 years ago

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