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Banks Need to Prioritize Creating Positive Customer Experiences

As the role of the bank becomes increasingly commoditized in its customer’s lives, the contact center is one of the remaining opportunities for differentiation through personalized interactions. Even though numerous studies report that convenience trumps service as the top reason for banking customer loyalty, the diversity of channels is creating a disjointed experience that the contact center can help to smooth.  Providing a smoother path to positive customer experiences is especially critical now, as competition from non-banks, such as FinTech firms, Internet/mobile service providers and peer-to-peer lenders, continues to grow.

However to do so, banks must understand the attitudes, preferences, demographics and profiles of customers in relation to creating positive experiences in areas that matter to them. The only constant for banking customers today is change. Trying to build and maintain loyalty in ways that worked in the past will not create growth through loyalty for today’s banks.

For lines of business to learn to impact how customers use their products, turn to the contact center. As the front line—even more so today than the branch—the voice of the customer is alive and pointing banks toward exactly what’s required to keep and grow their business. Ignore them at the risk of their defection to your competitors, which increasingly includes non-banks.

“Banks across the globe are witnessing a stagnation of customer experience levels due to rising customer expectations driven by the proliferation of Internet/technology firms…While banks have been focusing on their front-office digital capabilities, they have not been able to meet rising customer expectations and are losing on the perception battle.
– World Retail Banking Report 2015

Providing better customer experiences has become ever more challenging as customers have adopted more channels that distance themselves from the bank, preferring remote to in-person. This has also challenged banks on their ability to personalize situations when most all of their products and pricing are indistinguishable from the competitor down the street. Fortunately, the contact center has no such limitations.

Allowing banking customers to bank anytime and anywhere has become table stakes with few options for differentiation. Even with the growth in mobile, most banks provide similar experiences; most of them bolted on rather than truly integrated. Standing out from the crowd will require delighting customers—something most banks are not known for accomplishing.

“Bank’s efforts to provide enhanced services are falling short of customers’ desires and expectations leading to stagnation of Customer Experience Index (CEI) over past two years. ” – World Retail Banking Report 2015

The problem with personalizing services for banking customers is that their preferences may shift based on any number of factors, such as location, urgency or type of interaction and the device within reach. In addition to using analytics to assess channel use, contact center agents can help to clarify customer needs and preferences in real time. If approached through the framework of customer interaction design, intelligence learned via the contact center can inform decisions made about product offerings on various channels, desired user experience refinements and clarifying sources of confusion—to name a few.

Banks relying solely on satisfaction scores are overlooking the impact of positive customer experiences on customer retention. “Improving customer experience is the best strategy to deflect competition from non-bank players,” said Jean Lassignardie, chief sales and marketing Officer for Gapgemini Global Financial Services, commenting on the World Retail Banking Report, 2015.

 “In addition to lower customer experience levels, the World Retail Banking Report found that globally customers’ propensity to leave their primary bank (especially Gen Y) is on the rise, while willingness to make referrals or buy additional products has decreased significantly.”
– Capgemini/Efma news release, 4/22/15, on the World Retail Banking Report 2015

Understanding customer preferences is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Experiences vary based on the transaction, the customer’s need and the channel in use. In fact, there are five core areas of customer-to-bank relationships that should be maximized to create competitive advantages. Each of these can benefit from insights derived from customer interactions in the contact center, along with the data collected in customer information systems and the quality assurance review process.

Banks need to focus on improving five areas:

  • Customer Knowledge: This includes identifying preferences related to behaviors and understanding how these change across life-stage needs. Every interaction a customer service agent has with a customer can provide some level of input to this understanding. The task for the contact center is to identify what information is needed and how to holistically capture it during the call, email exchange, chat encounter or other service-supported interaction across channels.
  • Product-Channel Fit: The easiest method for understanding this area—in addition to identified abandonment of the process via digital channels through analytics—is by achieving an understanding of the experience and issues when customers call in relation to product issues experienced in the different channels where they are offered.
  • Trust and Confidence: These factors for customer loyalty will be demonstrated by putting the bank’s customers’ needs first and by the ability to provide solid advice and assistance during interactions—both self-service and via the contact center and branch.
  • Intimacy and Relationship: This area will be impacted the most by the experience each customer has with the bank. When their wellbeing is a priority, the relationship will improve. This area showcases a need for banks to recreate the customer experience based on the newly evolving and complex customer environment.
  • Consistent Multi-Channel Experience: This is likely the most challenging for banks to achieve, given how channels have been added to legacy systems, but it’s also an area where the contact center can provide feedback based on the voice of customer data collected during calls that relate to channel experiences.

There are constant opportunities for banks to evolve the customer experience. With just one product or service support queue handling thousands of customer calls each month, the data and knowledge are available to develop actionable insights that will help banking customers have more positive experiences across more channels, at their convenience which will result in more business for the bank.