Customer expectations are changing, and the financial services industry isn’t immune to these new demands. The expansion of big data, social media, and the ability to find or buy nearly anything you need, mean that people are accustomed to rapid, personalized experiences. Everything is available at your fingertips, and how businesses differentiate themselves is evolving.
Changes in technology and regulation have also spurred an onslaught of innovation in the financial services industry. New ways of tackling traditional financial tasks, such as investing or banking, are being created, and investors are getting their slice of the fintech pie. In 2018 alone, more than $40 billion were invested into Fintech.
It's not just brand new fintech teams that are focussing on innovation, though. The challenge has become more urgent for traditional financial services institutions as the pressure of an ever-growing industry, littered with viable options for consumers, builds on them. Innovation, reputation, and security are no longer enough to attract and retain customers.
These days, users care about customer experience and personalized service more than ever.
Financial services customer experience trends that will continue to dominate in 2019
Three customer experience trends in particular are set to change the way financial service providers serve their customers. Financial institutions will focus on customer experience, data-driven conversation, and personalization to drive growth in 2019.
1. The transformation of banking through digitization
Traditional banking is transforming under digitalization. Customers now have unprecedented levels of convenience, getting in touch with their customer service agents from their own personal devices. But it's not only about providing a digitized communication platform. Developing a customer-centric banking experience across the entirety of the user journey, and making the transactional experience as painless as possible, truly matter.
As the Boston consulting group emphasize, you need to identify the critical phases of your consumer journeys that negatively affect the customer experience. You can look at customer transaction histories, call logs and online data to help identify these.
2. Leveraging customer data
“Customers know data’s value and will trade it — for a return. They are willing to exchange personal data for new, customized benefits. Providers offering real value for data can earn increased trust and loyalty.” - Accenture
A customer can get frustrated when they are asked the same questions over and over again. From opening a saving account, to applying for a loan, it's annoying for customers to repeat their requests. The digital platforms of today should be capable of unifying customer data and provide instant access to it whenever customers interact with these institutions.
3. Conversational banking
Recent advancements in NLP have empowered chatbots to capture information across multiple touchpoints and contextualize information to offer a personalized service. Modern chatbots are capable of tracking customer behaviors and anticipating customers needs. Conversational banking has taken steady strides forward with chatbots.
Once your banking system analyzes the patterns of interaction, your chatbot can take customer experience to the next level.
At the same time, messaging apps and live chats are also gaining momentum. Messaging apps, when integrated with a third-party solution, give users access to a wide range of third-party solutions, right from their messaging window.
Uber’s partnership with Facebook messenger is a great example of this, the integration between Uber and Facebook messenger allowing users to book a ride from the messenger window.
Live chat enables face to face conversations, helping service agents break the ice and engage with customers on a more personal level. Cobrowsing allows agents to see customers’ screens and even instruct them with visual cues.
A fantastic example of this being used well is ICICI. Previously, they supported their customers in the insurance application service via telephone operators. As the form filling process was phone-based, mistakes with numbers and characters were often made because of bad connections or other issues. In order to correct the mistakes, agents often had to call customers back, increasing the time taken for each operation.
By utilizing the cobrowsing feature, ICICI decreased average operating time by 50%, increased customer satisfaction rate by 65%, and the rate of closing contracts by 62%.
What do customers want from financial institutions?
Banking and investing are by no means new industries, but customers now expect to be able to interact with them in different ways. Based on research into the financial services industry and consumer surveys, we’ve uncovered the five main themes of what banking customers are looking for in 2019.
Ease and accessibility
With nearly 70% of banking done digitally, as opposed to in-branch, it’s no wonder the digital experience is so important. Financial services need easy-to-use digital platforms, accessible across multiple devices.
Mobile is particularly important. One PwC survey found that 15% of banking customers were mobile-dominant in 2018, up from 10% in 2017. This means your mobile app needs to be as usable as your website or even in-branch experience. Customers expect a full range of features on a mobile app, and 37% of customers seeking a quality banking experience even want instant access to face-to-face advice.
Omnichannel is very much the name of the game. Mixing physical and digital services together seamlessly is what 50% of quality-seeking banking customers want.
High-quality customer service
Just because financial services are increasingly online, doesn’t mean the human touch has lost its importance. In a time of ever-greater choices, customer service is critical for maintaining loyalty. In fact, up to 49% of people say that high-quality customer service is key in keeping them loyal. One Trustpilot survey of 15,000 banking customers found that customer service and reputation was the most noteworthy quality of a financial institution. More than half of those surveyed felt that interactions with the company were more impactful than service fees. Qualtrics also found that poor service is a bigger detractor than a poor product.
Customers leaving is often an unwanted surprise, given three-fourths of banking customers don’t tell their financial service company they’re going. That means the problem only surfaces once it’s too late.
If you want to make sure poor customer service isn’t a silent business killer, then there is no use just being reactive, you need to start being proactive. Redesigning the customer experience and ramping up customer support efforts can help nip these issues in the bud.
Invest in financial research
"Financial statement data is a vital strategic weapon that can be deployed as a real asset in the marketplace." - Brian Hamilton, the co-founder and chairman of Sageworks.
The financial services and banking industry looks for insightful research before changing customer service policies.
Businesses rely on quality data because any decisions taken on the back of it have the potential to have a massive impact on their financial goals. When research reports produced by reputable sources like FSI are applied, they can improve strategy and lead to growth.
However, financial research reports are often expensive and many businesses are reluctant to pay the high rates.
As a banking tech solution provider, we at Acquire have compiled a factsheet to help you understand the new expectations around customer service and experience.
Customers are craving personalization and contextual relevance, but so far, financial service companies have struggled to properly provide it. 70% of financial institutions stated that “understanding individual customer needs and local value propositions" was one of their main challenges in meeting customer expectations.
Users are prepared to meet companies halfway too, with 63% of global banking customers willing to trade their personal data for tailored advice.
There is an opportunity to extend this personalization and support beyond the usual banking. 48% of customers would like banks to provide advice and product information relating to what they’re currently doing, such as buying a property. Customers also want to help shape their own banking experience, 43% would do so by providing input online.
High-tech and high-touch are welcome
While customers care about high-quality customer service, they’re less picky about how exactly they’re helped. 71% of banking customers are open to receiving automated messages that guide them through selecting the best account type for them. Self-service customer support empowers users to find the answers they need when they want, freeing up customer support teams at the same time.
Sometimes there’s just no replacement for one-on-one live support, though. 36% of banking customers want to talk to a real person when solving issues, such as settling disputed credit card charges.
Trust has always been of the utmost importance in banking. After all, customers need to feel comfortable they’re leaving their money in good hands. Data security is a particular concern in this day and age, but there are other ways to create trust. J.D. Power found that 91% of customers who received wanted digital advice from their bank have a high level of trust in them.
How the most innovative companies will get ahead
As studies have shown, customer service and advice can be more crucial than your product or service fees. Financial institutions are planning to meet these customer expectations in future, with 36% of FSI respondents in an Adobe survey saying that making the customer experience easy and valuable is a primary way they’ll seek to differentiate themselves over the next five years.
Now let’s explore some of the changes top companies will make to get ahead.
Creating a people-first experience
Infusing customer-centricity within your team is the first step towards achieving customer satisfaction. To do so, banking services need to have accessibility to the entire customer journey - their buying behavior, their preferred channel of communication, the information they access before they initiate a conversation, and the typical questions they raise. Mapping these data helps optimize your customer journey.
You need to take time to understand the motivations and questions that both potential and current customers have for your company.
81% of financial service companies say that customer journey optimization will be very important for their marketing efforts over the next few years. Customer journey mapping and customer experience strategy provide the basis of your game plan for creating a customer-centric organization.
Like most relationships, the first step in creating trust and understanding comes from truly listening.
High value engagement at the first touchpoint
Engaging customers through live chat technology as a first touchpoint gives you invaluable insight into how to best serve them, providing convenience for both agent and user.
Meeting the customer directly at their digital pain point, whether it be applying for a loan, opening an account, or exploring investment options, inevitably translates to time savings and the minimization of potential frustration for both customers and agents alike.
Any live chat tool worth its salt should allow agents to seamlessly handle and assign multiple conversations within the same user session, ensuring the customer is supported as required.
Some of the key reasons why live chat can become your main support channel are:
A. Live chat makes your support more human
The human element should never be underestimated - live chat enables your agent to provide customer service in real-time. Whether your customers contact you through desktop or mobile, agents can respond in flash with a live chat widget.
B. Live chat support helps to resolve issues faster.
Live chat, along with other visual engagement tools like cobrowsing, helps you complete time-consuming financial processes with absolute ease, like helping customers with filling out multiple documents, verifying proofs, and addressing queries.
C. Live chat support helps you track the customer journey and behavior.
Through tracking customers’ activity, you can strategize your customer service based on an analysis of the current relationship, recent behaviors, and past experiences, enhancing the overall customer experience.
Perfecting a high-touch customer experience
The idea of “the segment of one” will be big with banks this year. Technology and data make it easier to deliver personalized one-on-one communication. Tools such as cobrowsing make it possible to work alongside your customers whether on your website or mobile platforms, interactively navigating together and highlighting features as necessary.
Recent research by Forbes shows “Interactions that include cobrowsing – which allows the agent (with permission) to view and interact with a customer’s web browser in real-time – show customer satisfaction rates that are more than six points higher than the average, at 89.3%.”
Cobrowsing enables first-time contact resolution - meaning customers get resolutions in the very first conversation. This leads to higher customer satisfaction rates and a seamless customer experience.
When it comes to security, unlike with screen share, customers don’t need to leave the site to download any external applications or launch a separate video meeting. Moreover, cobrowsing allows field-level encryption and sensitive field masking, helping customers keep information confidential.
Scaling customer support
In addition to creating better one-on-one experiences, the financial services industry will need to excel when it comes to providing scalable, high-quality customer support. One way to accomplish this is via artificial intelligence chatbots. In fact, the majority of FSI companies are using, or plan to use, AI in the coming years, and it’s forecasted to be one of the most impactful technologies of 2019.
Understanding the limitations of a chatbot is one of the key considerations governing it’s implementation. Banks must understand that customers will know if they overtask the chatbot, compromising the quality of support.
Today’s banking customers want experiences that are accessible, personalized, and helpful. By providing consistently high-quality customer service at scale, financial institutions can build trust and loyalty. Of the top 50 largest global banks, three quarters plan to undergo a customer experience transformation.
Do you have a plan for creating customer-centric experiences within your organization? We would love to hear from you.