Barbie and customer service

BYTES - Lito Villanueva - The Philippine Star
Barbie and customer service
Margot Robbie stars as Barbie in a live-action film
Warner Bros. Ent.

This happened last year. I was just reminded of it given the awards season in Hollywood. Little did I anticipate that a valuable lesson in customer service awaited me on a leisurely Saturday evening, just as I was settling down to enjoy the blockbuster hit “Barbie” with my wife and six children.

It all started when I received an alert about a customer who had been very distressed about a certain digital transaction. My initial reaction was to postpone addressing the issue – after all, it’s family time and I could fully trust our customer service team to handle it appropriately.

However, I realized that I was already troubleshooting and problem-solving in my head. I could not simply ignore this dissatisfied customer especially if the concern involves anything about digital. The desired outcome must be frictionless.

In the middle of movie teasers before the main film, I had to step out of the cinema and initiate a call to this customer through messenger. It took over an hour to listen to the rants and understand the situation. It ended with a promise of immediate resolution.

Customer obsession must be at the core of business and leadership. Even checking on netizens’ comments on our social media channels has become a daily routine as early as four in the morning. This is a rich resource of ideas for coming up with ways to further improve the delivery of service. Putting myself in the customer’s shoes and assisting someone in anguish, even if it meant giving a piece of my family time is what I call empathy.

Because customer service does not wait for convenience. It is hinged on the keyword “service.” It does not wait for banking hours; it exceeds the normal 8-5. It is a 24/7 job that can happen on a weekend and holidays and should not wait until the next banking day. It also does not discriminate between ranks and positions. Even though the bank has a designated customer support team, that did not stop me from addressing the concern myself and ensuring that a concrete solution would be delivered on the committed time. Closely collaborating with the customer care team is essential, making them more proactive.

Customer service is also an art. A seamless combination of advanced technology with the warmth of human connection. It is about delivering banking with compassion.

In this exciting but uncertain time where advanced technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are taking center stage. Is humanity growing less relevant in this time of tech? GenAI chatbots can respond intelligently to customers. Deep-learning systems can analyze c ustomer behavior in seconds. Technology serves its purpose: to make human lives easier, convenient, and efficient as possible. But to what extent? There is one thing that even the most advanced AI can’t offer… and that is the heart.

The heart is the essence of being human. Empathy is our channel. Service is our purpose. Machines cannot mimic empathy nor feign human emotions. This is important to remember as fintech begins to utilize AI in improving key features such as customer service and boosting user satisfaction. AI cannot completely replace the warmth of human connection in banking.

It shouldn’t.

The customer experience is key in acquiring and retaining customers. It is vital in enhancing one’s brand and improving customer trust. We might think that customer acquisition and loyalty are solely reliant on state-of-the-art features, high-tech apps, dazzling deals, competitive rates, fancy tools and wealth-growing benefits. These are important, but we tend to forget the most important aspect of all: the human’s genuine touch.

According to a survey done by Statista, “93 percent of organizations perceive customer experience as either a ‘primary’ or ‘partial’ competitive differentiator,” with 45 percent of these organizations agreeing that AI solutions will “reshape the customer experience (CX)” in the next five years. The data also shows that good CX is important because it is a vital marketing defense and offense. The more satisfied a customer is with a bank’s personalized customer experience, the higher the chances of them staying loyal to your brand.

In RCBC, this is what we call “Innovations with Empathy.” Empathy is our anchor, and the customer is at the core of every banking experience. Understanding our target audience – taking the time and effort to be on the ground and learn, discover, and understand their pain points, needs and preferences – is what true customer service is all about.

The fintech industry is constantly evolving alongside customers’ expectations. We beef up our services with new features and updated interfaces that capture their evolving needs. It is proven that emotional connections sustain a bank’s success and brand. The distinct human touch enhances customer satisfaction, trust and loyalty. This is proven by RCBC’s recent win as the Best in Customer Service in a survey done by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Statista.

With this in mind, we were able to transform a customer’s rant into CX-enhancing solutions. At the end of the day, a complaint can be perceived in two ways – as a blow to the ego or as an opportunity for improvement. We see customer feedback as the latter. We were able to transform his emotions as well – from distress and anger to gratitude and trust.

Without the authenticity of purpose to uplift customers’ lives, the success of any business will be short-lived. At the center of everything we do is our deepest desire to provide a delightful customer experience to every user. What bigger purpose do we hold? What else can the technology we provide offer the people we serve?

Concrete actions speak louder than words and customers will lend their trust if they truly feel heard, prioritized and listened to by the brand they patronize. Customer satisfaction is the backbone of customer loyalty. Behind every satisfied customer is an organization where customer obsession is the culture. And just like Barbie’s ending, this customer saga ended with everybody at peace and with happy, grateful hearts.

And that customer promise was fulfilled.

Lito Villanueva is the Philippines’ award-winning thought leader on digital transformation and inclusive digital finance at scale.

He is the executive vice president and chief innovation and inclusion officer of RCBC. He is also the founding chairman of Fintech Alliance.Ph, the Philippines’ largest industry association collectively generating over 95 percent of digital retail financial transaction volume, and the founding global chairman of the South Africa-based Alliance of Digital Finance Associations.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with