There’s something shifting in the financial services industry. The days when lifetime loyalty was a given are gone. In fact, fewer than 50 percent of millennials see themselves staying with their current financial services institution over the next few years.
This shift has brought new challenges. And the only way to overcome them is by turning attention to financial customer experience — of the 50 largest global banks, three out of four now pledge themselves to some form of customer experience transformation. And the results of that speak for themselves. One study found banks could expect to see a 27.5 percent growth rate simply by improving their customer experience scores by 10 percent.
But how can you implement customer experience management in financial services effectively? Let’s dig deeper to find out.
Customer experience is your customers’ perception of your brand created by all the many interactions they have with you throughout the length of the customer lifecycle.
Customer experience management, then, is how you go about controlling these interactions to create the best possible experience. Gartner sums it up nicely as:
“The practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
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Banking and financial services are traditional, behemoth industries, but even they must march to the beat of progression.
The reality is, customer expectations in the finance industry have changed. And one of the primary drivers has been technology — in particular digital advancements. The impact of the recent pandemic has only served to speed up this trend.
So, how can financial institutions meet and even exceed these new customer expectations? It all comes back to the customer experience.
When organizations think about how to address customer experience, they must keep in mind what the modern banking customer wants:
Accessibility is all about providing customers with what they need, when they need it. In the modern age that means going omnichannel. Popping down to the local branch is no longer the be all and end all. In fact, 70 percent of banking has gone digital. So, banks must instead focus on delivering easy-to-use platforms accessible across any device. That’s not to say the physical side can be neglected — 50 percent of quality-seeking banking customers want to see physical and digital mixed together seamlessly.
Seventy percent of financial institutions stated that “understanding individual customer needs and local value propositions" was one of their main challenges in meeting customer expectations. People are happy to play their part too, with 63 percent of global banking customers willing to trade their personal data for tailored advice. Your institution should pay heed — 40 percent of banking customers listed more personalized service as a reason to switch financial institutions.
Rather than wait on the phone, customers want to help themselves through self-service resources such as FAQ and knowledge bases. Chatbots in banking are especially useful. And, should a particular request be beyond a chatbot’s scope, it can simply be escalated to a live service representative. Customers save time and banks save costs. In fact, studies forecast that chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion per year by 2022.
Two-thirds of millennials (67 percent) are open to trying financial services from brands they trust, like Nike, Google, and Apple, that don’t currently offer financial services. That may be cause to worry. But, it goes to show just how important trust is. After all, customers need to feel comfortable that they’re leaving their money in good hands. One Trustpilot survey of 15,000 banking customers found that customer service and reputation was the most noteworthy quality of a financial institution.
Customers want information that can help them make more informed decisions about their money and financial goals — 79 percent of North Americans are open to receiving computer-generated advice on investments, such as asset allocation, and 74 percent would take input on which account type to open. This helps build relationships. For example, consumer research company J.D. Power found that 91 percent of customers who received digital advice they wanted from their bank have a high level of trust in them.
Meeting these expectations allows you to:
If you want to reap the benefits we’ve listed above, you need to manage customer experience effectively. There are a number of different methods that can help.
Enhancing customer experience in financial services depends on a full understanding of all the different interactions feeding into the customer journey. According to research, only about two-thirds of organizations use a customer journey map. Yet, nearly all those who do use it say it has delivered positive results. Companies see a staggering 81 percent increase in customer satisfaction, as well as reduced churn and complaints, and increase in Net Promoter Score, based on a 2018 report.
Through laying out all of the possible touchpoints that impact customer experience, a customer journey map plays a crucial role in identifying areas of consideration and improvement. Even if you’ve mapped your customer journey before, with all the new touchpoints springing up all the time in social media, apps and the like, it may be something you need to re-evaluate.
At a minimum, the customer journey will have four stages:
Reading about customer experience management, you often hear talk of how customer experience is the responsibility of everyone in the company. And while that motto is true to a certain extent, it also doesn’t really tell the whole story.
The reality is, you need a single, executive-level employee who owns customer experience management in banking. Although this isn’t a common position in financial institutions yet, that’s changing every day. This single owner is often called a chief experience officer. They can be a real help in getting heard at the leadership level and cementing customer experience management on the organization’s agenda.
The end result of this is that this chief experience officer can secure the money required to execute programs effectively, and C-suite visibility means leadership gets to see the impact these programs have had on key business KPIs, reinforcing the value of customer experience management in financial services.
Chief experience officers are accountable for how customer experience is implemented across all of the various touchpoints with an organization. But, there are many other employees who are responsible for the various touchpoints themselves. Making sure all of those employees are on board with customer experience management is the only way to create a culture of customer experience excellence that brings success.
Doing this relies on having a single, clear customer experience strategy that everyone can buy into. This should involve bringing together cross-functional teams to create this vision together, as well as agreeing on the metrics for measuring success.
In fact, other teams should be involved as much as is practical to make sure everyone feels a part of the process from the start. As we’ve mentioned, all employees — from the chief executive to the tellers — help shape customer experience. That’s why it’s so vital they are completely on board.
Part of getting in the mindset for enhancing customer experience management in financial services is about opening yourself up to as much relevant data and customer feedback as possible. After all, if you want to understand your customer experience, you need to ask your customers. Make sure feedback is integrated into the systems your teams use, everything from chatbots and knowledge bases, to CRM and HR systems. As the old adage goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
While there is value in looking at post-interaction surveys in customer experience management, sometimes organizations get fixated on this. That can damage customer experience management efforts by considering these interactions in isolation rather than in the context of the customer experience as a whole. Looking at KPIs like churn rate and customer lifetime value instead may help shape a holistic view.
Customer experience management requires the support of the right technology. Some platforms may only specialize in particular aspects of customer experience, and so require integration into a broader stack.
A more comprehensive platform may be harder to find, but it’ll be worth it for the convenience and the greater visibility into a unified customer view.
This kind of omnichannel capability helps you tie the whole customer journey together seamlessly, from the financial advice they get through live chat, to the account they open up in-branch, everything ties together into one conversation. This is also helping financial institutions borrow from ecommerce and start looking at a cutting edge phygital approach, where digital technologies serve to augment physical experiences creating faster, more secure, and more convenient services.
Generally speaking, in the banking industry, these customer experience management platforms should focus on bringing together three core components that influence customer experience.
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With all these new tools and methodologies around, it’s critical that you train up your staff so they can make best use of them and deliver on the customer experience vision. They will need to be able to effectively absorb new workflows and practices into their daily routine.
It’s essential here that the relevant parties understand how to input, analyze and interpret data as required. Customer experience needs to be woven into everything, from the onboarding process to training. It’s only through this level of commitment that the message will filter through to become a core component of the organizational culture.
Ironically, with all the talk around new technology and processes when it comes to customer experience management in financial services, it can be all too easy to lose sight of what this is all about. The customer.
Keeping the customer front of mind will make it much more likely that you’ll deliver against your goals. And, don’t forget to include your customers in shaping your efforts as much as possible. Make them a core part of your customer experience management process and they’ll thank you in the long run — with their loyalty.
Benedict Clark is a psychologist and writer, having previously spent 8 years in the digital marketing industry. With a master's degree in Business and Occupational Psychology from Kingston University, he writes about the interplay between customer experience and psychology for Acquire.