Citibank Case Analysis

Citibank Case Analysis

Citibank has been a prosperous financial institution for more than 180 years. One of the key components that have made this institution very successful is their focus in offering a personalized banking experience integrated with great customer service, providing higher profitability. However, in the California division, the financial targets became more important throughout the years, leaving behind the importance of customer satisfaction. It is now the main focus of the California division to improve on customer satisfaction ratings before their financials catch up with the number of complaints that have been received in various branches.

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In 1995, the California division of Citibank decided to implement a new Performance Scorecard to measure more efficiently the performance of various divisions within the company and how those performances aligned with the strategic goals of the division. Since Performance Scorecards were filled out by the employee’s immediate supervisors, this would also serve as a basis for determining an employee’s bonus opportunity. One of the new metrics highlighted in the Performance Scorecard was customer satisfaction.

A fairly controversial situation has been brewing because Lisa Johnson, the Los Angeles area manager, graded and commented on James McGaran’s Performance Scorecard and it is being reviewed by the President and the management team of Citibank California. James McGaran is the branch manager for the most important branch in the Los Angeles area. James seems to have a strong professional background and has delivered phenomenal financial growth with this branch for the past four years.

However, his customer satisfaction performance has consistently been below the division’s expectations. Never the less, Lisa Johnson, James McGaran’s supervisor, continued to comment and make high remarks about his results and his desire to improve on customer service measures even when the scores revealed the opposite. This has been a tremendous flaw from Lisa and I believe she’s utilizing James financial growth success to support her position as area manager because this just makes her look good with Frits Seeger, President of Citibank California.

I feel that Lisa has ignored the protocol for grading the scorecard and has been giving James a “Par” grading on customer satisfaction even though he has not met the requirements to be graded in this category. This clearly shows a misuse of the Performance Scorecard, and it also questions the reliability and integrity of the Scorecard system. Lisa’s actions can be related to the article on Managing for Organizational Integrity1 in the sense that she has failed to use her integrity to set a benchmark for self-governance and accountability.

I believe she has been bending the rules to seek certain managerial advantage. Moreover, James has questioned the quality of the survey since he believes there are other services that are also taken into consideration in the customer satisfaction survey that out of his control like the ATM’s. I disagree with James in this topic because I believe he seems very convinced that the problem comes from centralized services and avoids taking accountability or initiative to solve these issues. This is a primary example of the dilemma proposed by Chris Argyris in his article Teaching Smart People How to learn2.

James has been very successful throughout his career and has not had many experiences to mature through failure. Even though his espoused theory is to improve customer satisfaction, he seems struggle with failure and just handed over his issues to another division of the company. If I were James, I would have taken the initiative to add a suggestions box or have someone near one of the ATM’s surveying people about their customer experience and how it could be improved. It is James responsibility to collect this information and suggest improvements.


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