Focusing on Service pays off

by Kevin Lynch 6. April 2010

The financial services industry has had a pretty rough couple of years, and 1st Mariner is no exception. Recognizing that we needed to get a better understanding of the relationship between us and our customers, we began phone surveys using the metric of the Net Promoter Score (NPS).  Developed by Fred Reichheld in 2003, NPS measures customer loyalty by asking one simple question, "How likely is it that you would recommend 1st Mariner Bank to a friend or colleague?". Using a scale of 0-10, it identifies your loyal customers (Promoters) and those who are less satisfied (Detractors). NPS is the percentage of Promoters minus the percentage of Detractors. The highest NPS score in the industry is 81% for USAA, the large credit union serving military personnel and their families. Most of the national banks are well below that, averaging in the 30% range. Our average score in 2009 was 66%, a very respectable score.

In October of 2009, we rolled out an internal training program focusing on the customer. Called "Providing Red Carpet Service the 1st Mariner Way", all customer facing personnel, including Tellers, Contact Center Representatives, and Branch Managers, attended. Beginning with mystery shops of a competitor and a retail store, employees were asked to focus on service from the customers perspective. The response was extremely positive from the attendees. The training has been reinforced with monthly Red Carpet Service awards to individuals and groups highlighting these service "stars". In addition, there are efforts to promote teller referrals and increase product knowledge across the branches. The next phase of the program will be rolling this out to internal support areas inside the bank.

Often it is hard to quantify the success or impact of training. With NPS, we have a tool that gets us real time feedback from our customers. Preliminary results are very encouraging, as scores for the first three months of 2010 have averaged 71%, a 7% increase over last year. As they say in academia, this is a statistically significant increase. Coincidence? I don't think so, but I'd love to hear what you think.

Comments (2) -

Shawn Kent
Shawn Kent
5/6/2010 3:02:59 PM #

you want to hear what I think? You most definitely didn’t talk to me about what I thought about your bank, or if I would recommend it to someone. My answer is a resounding NO, NEVER, NOT IN A MILLION YEARS.  1st Mariner Bank is a joke to me, your customer service is nil, nothing, as a matter of fact it is insulting.  Someone stole my 1st Mariner Debit card unbeknownst to me, and rang up a bountiful amount of charges, all of which put my account in a large default, as almost NONE of the charges had money to back them.  After I arrived at one of your branches to cash a check, drawn from your bank, I was informed of the erroneous charges. I had no idea until that moment, and was flabbergasted.  In the end I had to file a complaint and was harassed by your employees to bring the account back to a positive while the matter was being investigated.  Not only did they say this, they illegally required me to pay off a negative balance on my account BEFORE they would cash another check DRAWN from your bank.  To top it off, your ‘customer service friendly’ bank, charged me Fifty dollars because I didn’t report my card stolen/missing within 24 hours, even though I had no possible way of knowing. Believe me when I say that when I talk to the various news outlets next week, I will have nothing nice to say about your bank or the way it ‘values’ its customers.

Kevin Lynch
Kevin Lynch
5/19/2010 4:31:32 PM #

Shawn, I'm certainly sorry to hear about your experience with the bank. We do strive to provide a good customer experience for all customers. I'd be happy to talk to you about your difficulties directly. Feel free to give me a call at 410-558-4200 or email me at

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