Putting the customer first in a digitalised financial services industry (Part 2)

In part one of this blog I explored the rise of online and mobile within financial services and the effect the digitalisation process.

Putting the customer first in a digitalised financial services industry (Part 2)

Now it’s time to take a deep dive into the strategies businesses should adopt when connecting into this digital era.

 There are two critical aspects to bear in mind when developing a digital strategy: the needs of the customer and the business’ ability to deliver a consistent experience across its wider channel ecosystem. It’s no use rushing out a mobile platform if it’s substandard compared to the existing online service. If social media customer service teams don’t have access to the same information those in contact centres do, they won’t be able to offer the level of service that is expected of them. True customer experience management designed for a digital business requires an end-to-end solution approach for transforming the value chain. This involves addressing the watch, build, run cycle of the complete business operation and pre-emptively builds risk mitigation into the change strategy. Those designing the customer experience must therefore start with a clear picture of user and business needs, in the context of the technical feasibility for delivering integrated digital channel solutions that enable employees to serve them consistently.

 The speed at which digital channels are evolving also means that this process must be continuous. Organisations need to adopt a more agile, customer-centric approach to service delivery. This can best be achieved through co-innovation with technology partners; to implement robust ‘learn, understand and act’ processes that use customer data and analytics to provide a better grasp of the customer journey and user-experience issues. This continuous design-loop will help to ensure that the processes and systems for service delivery are constantly being optimised around the needs of the customer and the ability of the business to meet them. Rolling out digital changes iteratively using an agile development methodology will also ensure that financial services firms don’t need to wait forever to see the fruits of their labour.

 Working with technology partners in this way also indemnifies the organisation against some of the potential risks or losses, since systems integrators and product vendors are often happy to account for them in their own Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) to provide a safety net against business disruption during the change process. Of course, achieving this operating model requires a significant cultural change within the organisation, which cannot be achieved overnight. However, the costs of service delivery will escalate significantly if digital channels are poorly aligned with the rest of the business, so the need to usher in these new ways of working cannot be ignored.

 Creating an edge with digital differentiation

 The first step in making this transition is to realise that digital channels transcend the traditional boundaries that existed between business functions on the back-end. Experience design teams need the support of all key stakeholders within the business; from the IT, analytical and creative teams responsible for the creation of digital channel solutions, to the marketing and business-level managers that deliver them to customers. This united approach can significantly improve customer satisfaction, by helping design teams to get a much more accurate understanding of the needs of the business, its customers and employees. With this insight, they can work much more effectively with digital channel experts and technology partners to co-design and create solutions that are aligned with those needs. This more informed approach also helps to optimise deployment times and minimise the costs of digital channel delivery significantly.

The next step is to ensure that the infrastructure and process design has been fully integrated so the organisation can offer a truly omni-channel service experience. As customers move away from high-streets and towards digital channels, contact centres will become their main port of call if problems arise. As a result, they will become far more prominent as a measure of the quality of service that the business offers.

 This makes it essential that contact centre operatives have a detailed understanding of who the customer is and what they are looking to achieve when they call in with an issue, so that they are able to be proactive and efficient in resolving it.  They should instantly be able to see which services the customer uses regularly, whether they’ve experienced similar issues before and how long they’ve been experiencing the current problem for. The key to achieving this is in integrating and harnessing all of the data that the organisation has on a given customer, so that the contact centre operative is provided with the insight that they need.

 If they can pull this off successfully, financial services firms will have created a service that more closely matches what the customer wants to receive, rather than what the business wants to deliver. This is the holy grail of customer experience design, providing financial services firms with a golden opportunity to grasp a lasting competitive advantage through differentiation.