Customer experience is everything when your offering is a commodity

I’ve been a Regions business banking customer since the ‘08 financial crash. Back then, I had a personal relationship with my banker. Things were done by phone, email & in the bank lobby. For a decade, I’ve been going to the same drive-thru to deposit checks. During the first years, customer loyalty was high. There was no reason to consider other banking options.

Over the years, my banking contact got promoted and I lost my relationship with the bank. At the same time, other banks were outpacing Regions with web & mobile features to take the friction out of banking. Customer loyalty was medium, but the perceived headache of switching kept me where I was — going to the drive-thru to make my deposits.

Late last year, Regions switched online bill pay providers, without telling me. During the transition, they cancelled all my scheduled payments, with no notice. I learned of the transition from my vendors, who were expecting my payments. The insult to injury was a 20 minute hold time when I called to try to figure out what happened. Customer loyalty was low, and I was in research mode.

Enter Bank of America


Say what you will about BofA - I don’t have loyalty to any national bank brand - but, they’ve taken all the friction out of opening an account. I hit their website, selected small business, then my state of Florida. I got 2 banking options with a side-by-side comparison, and an apply now button. They promised that the entire process would be online. I stepped through a 5 tab application that took about 2 minutes. I uploaded my articles of incorporation & business license. I got a confirmation email, and about 3 days later, I got my account number. All in, I invested less than 30 minutes to successfully transition a decade long customer relationship to a new brand. Think about that for a minute.

With my new relationship, I have mobile app deposits, digital wallet ATM cards, a voice assistant that actually works and integration with my accounting software. I still don’t have a personal banking contact, but I don’t need one.

If Banking is a commodity, Customer Experience has to be the differentiator

The challenge that I had with Regions isn’t unique. Brands across many commoditized industries are losing customers for the exact same reason. They’re not making it easy for their customers to engage with them, while some of their peers are.

If I wasn’t in the customer experience design field I would never have written about this. I’d be one more customer that just quietly drifted away from the brand. If you’re responsible for your brand’s customer experience, pay attention to the customers you lose. You’ll hear from the vocal minority whether you want to or not. Don’t overlook the silent majority. If you listen carefully, you can learn a lot about what happened (or didn’t happen) to cause them to churn. More often than not, it’s not one big thing; it’s a lot of little things.

It is imperative for every brand leader to relentlessly hunt out and remove any friction from customer facing business processes. That’s a true statement for everyone, but goes double for commoditized industries.