You know you’ve nailed customer experience when Apple takes a leaf out of your book.

I’m talking about The Ritz Carlton, of course. The luxury hotel chain’s customer service is so exceptional that Apple store hiring managers decide whether or not a job applicant is a good fit based on their potential to offer Ritz Carlton-level service with the right training.

That’s no urban legend.

Before opening the first Apple stores, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and retail chief Ron Johnson decided to ask around in the office where people had had the best customer experience ever. The name of the legendary hotel chain kept popping up so soon enough Apple Store manager trainees found themselves enrolled in the training and leadership programme of The Ritz-Carlton. “Steve Jobs once said, ’Good artists copy; great artists steal.’ The Apple Store emulated customer service techniques from The Ritz-Carlton and it has served the brand well ever since,” recalls leadership communication expert Carmine Gallo.

One of their storied principles is to find out customers’ unexpressed wishes even before they do. Gallo says: “During one stay the receptionist called me and said, ’We see that you are scheduled to leave very early tomorrow. Can we leave a pot of fresh, hot coffee outside your door?’ Apple, too, instructs its sales staff to ’listen for unresolved issues or concerns.’” In other words, both companies have made a conscious decision to put next-level, hyper-personalised service at the core of their business, in part to boost customer loyalty, in part to justify premium prices.

Banks have, too. Well, sort of. High-net-worth individuals are usually assigned to a private banker, who looks after their needs, current and future, and advises them on everything from tax optimisation through investment opportunities to everyday transactions. With the advent of digital transformation, big data and open banking, however, isn’t it time private banking – tailored financial advice and products and all – became just… banking?

In many parts of Europe, people typically use 2-3 financial service providers at the same time, let’s say, one for taking out a mortgage, another one for opening a savings account and a third one for daily money transactions. Thanks to PSD2, banks can find out exactly how much money customers have, spend and borrow across different accounts and financial service providers. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

Swedish fintech Tink, for example, has just launched its new business account aggregation service that fetches real-time business data from a customer’s business and personal accounts, offering a 360-degree view of people’s finances and a world of new opportunities for customising banking services. Backed both by the industry and the government,  the UK’s Money and Pensions Service is busy trialling its pension dashboard model, a new digital interface that gives people access to real-time information on all their lifetime pension savings in one place. Personalisation platforms, like W.UP, make it possible to cater for every banking customer type there is, from HNWIs to super-savers and everything in between. The key is to find out what exact segment or microsegment a customer belongs to and personalise money management support accordingly.

In other words, the Ritz-Carltonisation of financial services is already underway. And it’s high time financial service providers, old and new, took note. 

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