Two Words For Vikram Pandit (Citigroup CEO): “Customer Experience”

Citigroup recently announced that Vikram Pandit was appointed CEO and that Win Bischoff (acting Chief Executive Officer) will become Chairman. I won’t get into my opinion of the move, but here’s what the Washington Post had to say about it:

But some investors expressed concern that the 50-year-old, India-born executive has never run a public company, let alone one as big and complex as Citi. Pandit also has no experience leading a consumer business, which at Citi generates more than half of overall revenue.

My take: Over the past several years, I have analyzed the retail financial services sector and worked with many large financial institutions. And, let me tell you, Citigroup needs some major work in its consumer business. To get a sense of how bad things are, here’s a recap of some Forrester research (remember, only Forrester clients can get full access to the reports):

So why am I writing about this? To pick on Citigroup? No.

Hopefully this information will make sure that Mr. Pandit understands, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Citigroup’s consumer business needs his attention. Since he does not have a great deal of experience in this area, I’ll offer my advice:

Focus on customer experience, NOW!

As a starting point, I suggest that Mr. Pandit read my post: The Best Of Customer Experience Matters, Volume #1 which provides a summary of things that can help Citigroup (there’s also a .pdf in that post that someone on Mr. Pandit’s staff can download for him). In addition to that “best of” post, I suggest that he also read Banks Prepare For Customer Experience Wars.

The bottom line: Citigroup’s consumer business needs a customer experience overhaul.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

3 thoughts on “Two Words For Vikram Pandit (Citigroup CEO): “Customer Experience””

  1. Bruce,
    I just stumbled upon your blogs – and they are excellent! Thanks for making them happen.

    I was reading your Citi Bank blog from 12/13/2007 and was wondering if I could see if there were a real business cost to the lack of customer experience you point out. While any business is more complex and the business context certainly plays a role, a quick search of the financial performance of several large banking/financial institutions show that over the last 5 years:
    Citi Bank -65.98%
    Bank of America -27.57%
    American Express -21.80%
    Deutsche Bank +12.43%
    JP Morgan +12.00%
    Wells Fargo +34.20%

    I’m not sure about all of them, but I do know that Wells Fargo has made a concentrated effort to understand their customers and make the customer touch points a better experience.

    I would say the fundamental tenet of providing a good customer/user experience pays off dramatically to the business’ bottom line.

    Thanks again for your informative articles, I look forward to following you …

  2. I can’t charge anything over $100, even though there is $2,500 in my account, Citi customer service tells me there is “nothing wrong.” On Saturday, after 45 minutes of explaining things to customer service, being put on hold, etc. (my concern was not on the CS menu), I was told it wouldn’t happen again. On Sunday, the same thing, three times! Customer service told me the problem was “not on their end… Home Depot, Lowe’s and Safeway need to update their software because the problem is not on our end.” I’m not sure I can handle another hour or more on hold, only to have the same problem again tomorrow!

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