Published in Financial Services

Eastern Bank & Bangor Savings Bank Q&A

What Does Winning Look Like? Eastern Bank and Bangor Savings Bank Q&A: Banks’ Partnership Inspires Greater CX Success

An interview with Joyce Clark Sarnacki; Executive Vice President & Chief Customer Experience Officer of Bangor Savings Bank and Richard Dorfman, the VP Customer Experience for Eastern Bank. The following is a chapter from the book Unlock the Value of CX. The book addresses the value that great customer experiences can have and how to deliver customer experience the right way to accelerate insights, results, and value. Download the ebook here.

Has Your Organization Identified Your Primary CX Challenges?

Bangor Savings Bank: We didn’t have the ability or technical infrastructure to capture and use our customer feedback and data. As a result, we invested our time and resources, for several years, into capturing, strengthening, and institutionalizing our culture—and it proved to be invaluable. During that time, we consistently performed very well, and yet we knew that having access to actionable data could help take us to the next level. We had a strong and successful experience approach, but needed customer experience data to accelerate our growth and even further strengthen employee engagement.

Eastern Bank: Driving the right culture. Convincing managers and executives that consistently and visibly cultivating the cultural aspects of customer experience was a challenge, even as they recognized that doing well by doing good is a very powerful and resonating element of the Eastern brand. It’s easy to lose sight of this. When it’s working, you know why it’s working and it becomes a self-reinforcing, virtuous cycle. The opposite is true as well. It’s hard to have a successful company when one of the most important ingredients, culture, isn’t as strong as it should or needs to be.

How Did Bangor and Eastern First Start Working Together?

Bangor Savings: I first met Rich at the annual CXFusion conference. In an effort to learn more and see how others were overcoming similar challenges, I asked MaritzCX® and other partners for references of customers or partners. MaritzCX recommended the team at Eastern Bank. We quickly discovered we had similar backgrounds and responsibilities in our current CX positions. We connected immediately because we couldn’t find anything that was more opposite. Our passion is the same, but our environments and challenges are vastly different, which created an environment where we could each learn from what the other organization was doing.

Eastern Bank was at a point where we had a strong confidence in the data we were gathering, and the analytics, but we knew to be a truly customer-centric organization we needed a drastic change. As we began to speak with Bangor at the conference, and eventually work together, it became apparent that we could learn more about culture from their team, quicker then we could figure it out on our own. We started working together and talking about how we could drive the right culture throughout our organization.

“Winning to us is being a customer-centric bank and ensuring our customers enjoy and want to continue to do business with us, and perhaps most importantly, become advocates. That’s what success looks like.”

How Has Your Focus on CX Affected Your Employees and Your Company?

Bangor Savings: Buy in and participation to our CX program has almost become a condition of continued employment at Bangor. Each employee from our CEO down to the newest hire not only sees the value but feels it. As a result, we’ve won the JD Power & Associates’ award for the “Highest Customer Satisfaction with Retail Banking in New England three out of the last five years, ranked in the top 10 best companies to work for and experienced double digit growth year-after-year during this same time span. The amazing thing is, we’ve done this while still being in our infancy when it comes to data and understanding our customers at a more intimate level. With Eastern as a partner we’ve learned how to gather data and better listen to our customers, and how we can and should setup the infrastructure for collecting, mining and analyzing our customers’ feedback.

Eastern Bank: At Eastern, we recently hired a new president that believes in CX whole heartedly, who in fact is placing this as one of the top priorities of his presidency. As a result, we believe that the sky is the limit with our strong analytics and customer feedback management infrastructure in place. Working with Bangor, another financial services institution, and seeing what they do and how successful they are in building a truly customer-centric organization has been a model that is helping us integrate customer-centricity into our organization even more than a few years ago.

“Our new President is determining the quality of his presidency on the degree to which we’re successful in CX. As a result, we believe that the sky is the limit with our strong analytics and customer feedback management infrastructure in place.”

What Does Winning Look Like to You and How Do You Inspire Success?

Bangor Savings: Winning to us is being a customer-centric bank and ensuring our customers enjoy and want to continue to do business with us and, perhaps most importantly, become advocates. As I mentioned, we have had a strong culture and leadership team driving customer experience as a key initiative. And now, having the metrics in place to know what our NPS® score is, is important to us; but we are confident that the NPS score alone doesn’t tell the full story. We value the metrics to help us focus on key drivers and how they affect our level of employee engagement and our customer’s interactions and experiences. We want to be able to identify both strengths and areas of opportunities to help us focus our business on the right things—for our employees and our customers. That’s what success looks like. I’ve been lucky to have a partner in Eastern Bank with energetic and passionate people willing to share some of their experience with CX metrics and data which was our primary weakness. Seeking out people and partners that are generous and are excited when you’re successful is important.

Eastern Bank: Our measure of success is and will be in how much we’re delighting external and internal customers. How much friction are we relieving. How much money does that translate to. We believe in the philosophy that if you build it right, they will come. This is where and why we turned the CX corner and got the culture side of the equation aligned with our metrics. There is still a lot to be put in place but there is optimism. Even through times of transition, as every company goes through, we continue to have the CX vision, which is very customer driven with metrics, employee-driven with coaching and collaboration; and action-driven with respect for everyone. Technically, we may be a competitor of Bangor Savings, but we have found the right way to be collaborative and learn from each other. The partnership with Bangor has proved to be incredibly helpful and inspirational and has helped us elevate culture and employee engagement to become the heart of our discipline. We’re now able to look at our CX initiative from a different perspective. I believe we have inspired each other to do a better job as CX experts, create a larger picture of success for our companies. We don’t take that for granted. We take very seriously our ability to change people’s lives for the better. It gets down to the emotional connection to our customers and employees and without CX we wouldn’t be able to make those connections.

“Our passion is the same, but our environments and challenges are vastly different, which created an environment where we could each learn from what the other organization was doing.”