The 2020 Customer Experience Culture Index. Influencing Customer Contact Quality in Russia

01/27/21
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Author:Michael Ruckman & Alexey Veretenov

From 2007-2012, Senteo published an annual Customer Experience Index (CEI) that became a standard ranking for banks Moscow.

In the age of digital transformations, agile teams, and a relatively firm understanding that corporate culture is important, how can front line culture in Moscow’s bank branches be so inconsistent and generally poor? It seems that all of the attention and resources have gone to building technological infrastructure and agile product teams, and banks may have forgotten the importance of human contact in building customer-centric business models. However, now more than ever, the human is very important for the quality of customer relationships.

With all of the self-service functionality available today, most people can do just about anything in their bank without needing to involve humans, but when they do really need a human, the actual contact is often underwhelming and sometimes downright frustrating. People visiting a bank branch today are most likely there because they have some need (a question, an issue, a complaint) that they were unable to resolve through self-service channels. As well, in most cases the customer will have tried to resolve their issue through one or more self-service channels and/or the call center before going to a bank branch.


We hope that the 2020 Customer Experience Culture Index will be a new influence on the quality of customer contacts for bank customers in Russia. This research was not designed to create scandal or conflict, and we have no intention to make anyone look bad.


As a result, the level of competency, understanding, empathy, and efficiency in any bank branch should be consistent with the potential seriousness, scope, and context of the contact. However, with 330 mystery shopping visits and a detailed scorecard, we recently found a significant gap in what should be expected and what is actually found in most bank branches in Moscow.

From 2007-2012, Senteo published an annual Customer Experience Index (CEI) that became a standard ranking for banks in Moscow. In the absence of other indicators, our annual CEI provided stimulus for many lively discussions with banks and even became a Strategic KPI for many banks. The five key measurement areas (Brand, Communications, Environment, Offering, and Culture) provided an overall picture of how each bank was experienced by customers. Over the course of 5 years, the research and corresponding work and advice for clients had a significant effect on the level of development and overall market maturity, and the results were noteworthy.

In 2019, we considered a re-launch of the CEI and studied the current level of development in the market. We found that Brand, Communications, and Customer Environments are roughly consistent with a generally accepted market standard (considering several understandable deviations from global best practice). The general banking Offering as well has reached an established market standard and in some cases is more advanced than generally accepted industry best practice. As a result, we concluded that we would not find sufficient differences between competitors to justify an easily understandable ranking in those areas. However, there is one area from our original ranking that remains an issue and also exposes significant differences among competitors. Front line culture is the one element in the original five that has actually developed at a much slower pace over the past eight years.

As a result of these findings, we adapted our CEI scorecard and added more detail specifically related to front line culture and the quality of contacts with customers, and the new Customer Experience Culture Index (CXCI) was launched. From December 2019 to March 2020, we visited bank branches 330 times from the 32 biggest banks with a branch presence in Moscow. What we found in some ways was not surprising, but many things were quite surprising considering the context of the current competitive landscape along with the growth ambitions and fierce competition among some of the major players in the market.

We hope that the 2020 Customer Experience Culture Index will be a new influence on the quality of customer contacts for bank customers in Russia. This research was not designed to create scandal or conflict, and we have no intention to make anyone look bad. We do, however, hope that this type of research provides a reminder that human contact is important in developing and managing customer relationships, and the culture of front line personnel and the quality of customer contacts is of significant importance even in this digital age.

Note: Due to the pandemic, the date to publish the report was delayed as long as possible. Spot checks to verify results were performed in August/September with either no change to the results or slight decreases in the scores that we observed in the original visits. Due to lack of significant deviation in the results, a final date was chosen to publish the report.

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