Experience Matters – especially when it comes to our money

It’s often said that customers (you and I) want moments that are:

  • seamless
  • fast
  • convenient
  • memorable

A no brainer really, pretty much stating the obivous I would say. Now, let’s take this into the financial services space.  Money matters and therefore customer experience in financial services should matter big time. Whether it’s payments, creating wealth, buying a home or starting a business – money is fundamental.  So, are banks also fundamental?

At the moment, I guess they are, but the question is with the growth of fintech investment, evolving technology platforms that are pushing their way into the banking industry, will the standard business model we know today, be fundamental in serving us customers tomorrow? What is certain is that the only thing that is constant – change, will force the banking industry, to evolve much faster than it thinks may be needed.

Industry trends in banking are continuously pushing the predominant thinking that digital first and digital only solutions are the new holy grail.  There is a movement away from personalised and personal interactions as we celebrate a shift in technology led solutions and digital led transformation.  Afterall it’s helping to reduce costs, which means the programme team have a business case for asking for more money to put towards AI and automation – the latest trends, but is this the right thing to be doing?

I’m all about change, my career has been built on advising banks and financial institutions to change and evolve.  However there’s a new challenge, which is that while it is imporatnt to implement change quickly and efficiently, how do we ensure that the services we are changing meets the customers needs and addresses their pain points so they want to come back? Afterall, what’s the point of creating live chat on your website, programming it to pop up at any part of the customer journey if the user stays on a page for more than a minute, if the questions your live chat agents can answer are so limited, 95% of the time, they just redirect customers to the call centre?  That’s not addressing a pain, it’s creating a multi-‘pain’-channel experience that is a pointless waste of the programmes money and efforts.  So while we all want to deal with organisations that give us the seamless, fast, convenient and memorable experiences, which are all ingredients needed for a good customer experience, the glue to it all is the human element.

What does the research say?*

It makes money sense to get this right – research shows that customers that consistently rank a brand as having exceptional customer support, will pay up to 16% more on price for their products and services, and also have increased customer loyalty towards the brand.  Wowza’s – what organisation wouldn’t want that?!  The same research also points to the fact that customers will try more than four new products or services as a result, and are more likely to recommend or endorse the brand on social media and to their friends.  So what does that tell us? It tells us that customer support (the human element) is still so key to the  backbone of financial services.  As we evolve in this age of digital technology advancement, taking care of customers through great service will never be a bad thing. To create a great experience, intersects between people and technology need to be planned for and designed to perfection.  This should make financial institutions who are not great with customer experience and have worryingly low service levels a litte apprehensive.  The winners are going to be those who can harvest data in the right way (with the right permissions) to use it to deliver better personalised experiences.  As the research also tells us that a high percentage of the loyal customers mentioned above would also be more willing to share personal data in return for great customer experiences, then the inverse is true – they won’t share it if the brand is known for delivering poor experiences and services, making for a pretty tough uphill climb for the financial services investing heavily in digital and CX led initiatives.

The service equation

Good service equates to repeat business, customer retention and loyalty.  A lot of banks have lost this focus on customer centricity and service, which is surprising as research is showing that it’s a pretty clever strategic road to be taking.

Bad service = annoyed customers = low products and service uptake = decreased likelihood for customers to want to share their data = inability to create the personalised experiences competitors are delivering that make for good customer experiences = “oh boy, what a conundrum!”

Technology matters, but experience matters more.

It’s an interesting time for innovation is financial services in the past decade and more is happening right now.  Having decent digital offerings is not enough for customers though.  A smaller number of customers would consider switching their banks just because technology is not innovative enough.  What’s more important than a whizzy all singing all dancing banking app you ask? Let me tell you:

  1. Friendly service
  2. More efficient processes
  3. Trust

Prioritising technology offerings that provide these benefits rather than just investing in cutting edge technology seems to be the right strategic path.  As customers, we all expect technology to just work and only notice when it doesn’t.  So good design,  that is user-friendly and intuitive is great, but it’s a basic and proabably doesn’t matter much if service is lacking, speed is lacking and my the security of my information and data is questionable.

What does matter is the human connection.  While automation should learn from real human interactions to constantly improve experiences, we should not forget the power of the human in the experience equation.  Focusing on training, incentivising employees to deliver better experiences, and fostering a culture that encourages a relentless focus on delivering what is truly right for the customer is paramount to success.  Even more,  having the right data and metrics in place to understand customers and their ever changing needs when it comes to finances, will be required.

*Research: ‘How to get it Right – Consumer Intelligence Series on the future of Customer Experience’ 2018 report.  Based on survey of 15,000 people across 12 countries


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