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By P&N Bank General Manager, Angela Newland

Having been a customer service executive across different sectors and countries for many years, I’ve witnessed enormous change and advances in customer service technology, automation and target market segmentation all designed to personalise and improve customer experience.

Yet, I find it interesting that more and more customers are feeling like they’ve become almost invisible and are being treated “like a number”. Many of us are finding it difficult to find “a real person” to speak to when we have a customer service enquiry with more and more organisations restricting “human contact access” for their customers.

For me, despite all the innovation and advances, the essence of good customer service has never changed. Good customer service starts and ends by authentically listening to your customer and treating them with honesty, respect, and integrity, just as you do with any good relationship. And then, what I’ve found almost always follows, is high customer satisfaction, a critical measure of success in a service organisation.

In my role as General Manager of WA’s P&N Bank, I sit next to our Perth based Contact Centre team and every day I hear firsthand the different types of challenges and requests that our customers are wanting help with.

With some 120,000 Western Australians who bank with us, I also speak to our customers most days, often in connection with a problem they may be having that I can help with or sometimes to hear about their connection to a particular P&N team member who has gone above and beyond to help them. 

These conversations can cover a range of topics and while I love helping to solve their problems, it’s the personal conversations and connections that stay with me. In the last month or so, I’ve spoken to customers who are being impacted by the current economic climate and a few customers who have fallen victim to scams who have been grateful for our help and the education provided to help prevent them falling victim in the future. Everyone has their own unique experience, and we care about each one of them.

My team take great pride in our high customer satisfaction ratings born from the genuine relationships they have with our customers. And of course, I’m not suggesting that we always get everything right. When we don’t, we are transparent and focus on setting things right as quickly as possible in the most authentic way.

As a customer-owned bank, our intrinsic goal is to do well by our customers and their communities. Customer centricity is part of our DNA with our sole purpose to enrich the lives of those who bank with us. While we need to make a small profit to reinvest into the business to keep our products and services competitive, we are not focussed on making a profit to pay as dividends to third party shareholders.

Customer-owned banks as a group are ahead of banks in general when it comes to customer trust, collectively recording a higher Net Trust Score than the banking industry as a whole. Based on the findings of Roy Morgan’s May 2023 Customer Owned Banking Association - Trust and Distrust Scores Report, the customer-owned banking sector as a ‘sub-industry’ ranks 7th most trusted out of the 26 industries measured, compared to the entire banking industry at 22nd.

The Roy Morgan report highlighted customer-owned banks have the highest satisfaction ranking of any banking customers in Australia at 91.5%, higher than the big four banks. And last year, the P&N team were awarded Best Customer Service and the Most recommended Customer Owned bank at the 2023 DBM Australian Financial Awards.

It will be fascinating to see how the world of customer service continues to evolve in the decade ahead. I believe that when it comes to managing people’s money, good customer service and trusted relationships will never go out of style.