Ask an Expert: The Secret to Great Customer Service in Financial Services

My quest to resolve an issue with my bank this morning evolved from a phone call, a maze of recorded instructions to connect with the ‘right’ person, and a voicemail that told me appointments were required “but please leave me a message and I’ll get back to you by the end of the next business day.” So much for resolving my issue.

Admittedly, the inability to solve my problem had little impact on my life. But for businesses, every lost minute can mean lost dollars. Yet this version of ‘customer experience’ has become so common that nearly everyone reading this post will likely relate.

How is it, then, that CSI globalVCard can boast a 100% client retention rate? To answer that question, I sat down with our Vice President of Support Services, Nan Dawson.

You don’t have to look too far to find examples of customer experience failures, but it’s a lot harder to find stories of success. What’s been the secret of CSI’s success?

Financial institutions tend to be large and structured. There are lines you don’t cross and a hierarchy to solving problems. Our teams at CSI are trained to be problem-solvers, and one of the first things we teach our new employees is that our goal is to answer the telephone by the second ring.

Our customer relationships are the core of our business – to us, nothing is more important than their success. And we can’t help them if we’re not available to talk with them!

A 100% client retention rate is unheard of. How do you measure that?
We’ve never lost a customer due to dissatisfaction. We do have an occasional customer that has to leave the program because of a merger or other business decision that may mandate a particular method of payment, but it’s never because they’re not happy.

Does that mean you never have an angry customer?
(laugh) Sure we do. Like any business, things go wrong sometimes. I call it ‘service opportunities.’ There are always going to be problems of some sort. The difference is how you handle it – and our customers know we’ll handle it! I think that’s what our customers appreciate the most.

I think I already mentioned how important our customer relationships were to us. We want to hear from them. We even have a Customer Advisory Board that’s comprised of about 30 customers that provide us with ongoing feedback and guidance on the advancement of both our service and product development.

That’s our opportunity to learn, make things better and put our training to work. Our relationship managers are taught to listen, not assume. We put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and really strive to understand their pain points because that is how we better our service and our technology. I know that probably sounds cliché, but I’ve never seen a company do it better than CSI.

What’s the secret of getting your entire team to buy in to this approach?
It’s not a buy-in. It’s the culture of our company and our employees understand that long before they’re hired. Our focus on customer service starts with the top down; it’s what CSI was founded on, and continues today – and is represented in the C-level executives of our company with Ryan Smith serving as Chief Service Officer.

All of our employees are in a service role, whether customer facing or not. We consistently ask ourselves, “How would you want to be treated?” We’re a high tech company that still believes in the high importance of giving your word and standing behind it.


With 25 years of progressive leadership in the areas of customer service and support, Nan Dawson provides the experience and mentorship needed to continually inspire CSI’s award-winning customer service team. In addition, she continues serving as a strategic advisor for her customer base, providing guidance to further streamline payment processes and maximize opportunities. Prior to joining CSI, her career experience included banking and other financial services institutions