For Jim Simpson, senior vice president and chief technology officer at City Bank Texas, when deciding what technologies to add for the bank's platforms, listening to customer problems is critical.

"We like to understand what's moving the needle at the customer service layer and making folks come into the branch, the drive-through, or via the phones at the call center," he says. His team closely looks at customer complaints to devise a technology solution. "We look at, can we find, implement, build or buy a technology that takes the needle the opposite way," Simpson says.

The approach of listening to customers' grievances and turning them into new product features encompasses branch visits. "If someone is physically driving to your branch, getting out of their vehicle and taking time to walk in, they're either really happy, because they want to make a deposit, or they've got a — we call them an 'opportunity.' They have an opportunity for you," he said.

Another important gauge of customer sentiment is the bank's frontline employees, who can ask customers about their thoughts and opinions — getting feedback about the good and bad aspects of the bank's mobile app, for example, Simpson says.

In 2013, Simpson managed the implementation of a mobile bill-payment feature that has handled more than $1 million in payments and a check-ordering feature in the app that customers have used more than 300 times.

The check reorder feature was developed after customers had contacted the bank's call center asking how to reorder checks. With written checks used so infrequently, it was easy to misplace the order form at the back of the check book.

Simpson is not just listening to customers' complaints but helping them in their hour of difficulty. This year he created a new support team to assist users of online and mobile banking solutions.