Customer experience: Are banking leaders giving it the attention it deserves?

Are you keeping up with your customers’ expectations for personal and easy-to-use digital financial services?

Customer experience: Are banking leaders giving it the attention it deserves?

The focus on customer experience in financial services has never been as intense as it is today. But delivering on the increasing demands and expectations of customers is easier said than done. Are you ready to take the next step?

Within the next three years, customer experience is predicted to overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator, according to Dan Latimore, Senior Vice President at Celent Consulting. Let’s look at why.

The Millennials – people born since the early 1980s – are maturing and gaining wealth. They’ll soon form banking’s core customer base. But customers from this generation know what they want … and will simply walk away if they’re not happy. In fact, one in three Millennials is open to switching banks in the next 90 days, according to the Millennial Disruption Index. Banks cannot afford to ignore their demands.

Then if we look at the next generation down the line – the Gen Z defined as today’s 18- to 21-year-olds – many of them are already considering whether they actually need traditional banks. Accenture’s 2017 Financial Services Global Distribution & Marketing Consumer Study found that 31% of consumers would consider purchasing banking services from an online provider, such as Google or Amazon – and that number rises to 41% for Gen Z. Banks risk losing their customer base altogether in the future if they don’t act today.

While addressing these shifts in consumer behaviours and expectations is an imperative, it’s not going to be easy. Delivering an exceptional customer experience requires changes to both systems and operations for legacy organisations that not only have complex systems but are also often set in their ways. Added to that, banks have to also contend with the high levels of regulation within the financial sector.

Understand customers’ day-to-day digital experiences  

The challenge banks face may look immense – but they cannot afford to ignore it. There are some simple steps they can take to help them.

Delivering on customers’ expectations firstly requires a broad understanding of what customers are experiencing in their day-to-day digital lives. Explore how industries outside of the financial sector are taking advantage of digital to drive a whole new level of customer experience.

Take a look at Amazon, Google, Facebook and the other digital giants. Their services are all quick, easy-to-use and personal, and connected across channels. Then there’s Uber. Uber’s customers never have to provide their account or location details since an intelligent app works them out automatically using whatever contextual information is available.

Banks need to make their services as easy to use. More than that, they also need to make it easy for their customers to communicate with them – wherever and whenever they need to.

And by keeping a continued eye out for any new game-changers delivered by any of these digital companies that their customers interact with daily, they can keep themselves ahead of the curve. After all, these companies will shape bank customers’ future expectations.

Keep a list of digital ‘must haves’

As you gain an understanding of your customers’ broader digital experiences, you’ll be able to draw up a list of things you must include within your own digital financial services. While this list will evolve over time, here’s a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Make it personal: Understand who your customer is and what their needs are so you can really personalise your interaction with them.
  •  Be proactive: Don’t always wait for the customer to initiate the interaction. Predict and act on your customers’ needs before they even realise what these are.
  •  Be relevant:Use any contextual information available to offer your customers services and advice ‘in the moment’, when they need it the most.
  •  Make them feel special: Use loyalty and bonus schemes to deliver those little things that make customers feel valued.
  • Ensure you’re always there:Provide a way for your customers to communicate with you any time of day or night, every day of the year.
  • Keep it simple: Remove any unnecessary steps and friction that will only have a negative impact on your customers’ experience.

If this list looks overwhelming, consider what you already have available to you to help deliver it:

  1. You already have a whole wealth of customer data available to you, both within your own systems and through your partners. By bringing that information together and analysing it you can gain a better understanding of your customers’ needs, desires and behaviours.
  2. Social media is widely available and provides a perfect medium for anytime one-to-one interactions. One US bank that has provided its customers with a private Twitter-like feed to get in touch has seen a 10% increase in applications completed, while applications are being completed 40% faster. In addition, the feed means it’s now digitally connected to 88% of student loan applicants, with whom it can instigate proactive dialogues at the appropriate time.

Make customer experience a top priority. Give it an owner and the C-level leadership it merits. After all, it’s fast becoming the key differentiator that will see you either gain or lose digital-savvy customers in the coming years.