By The TandemSeven Experts
The “Uber-isation” of financial services firms has forever transformed the traditional customer-bank relationship. By this, I mean that banking processes are now just one mobile click away. However, banks mired in old systems are struggling to keep up with their clients’ high expectations for a seamless customer experience.
New data from the 2015 World Retail Banking Report shows that global customer experience levels have stagnated over the last two years. According to the report, there was a 15% increase from the previous year of customers stating that they want to leave their bank within the next six months. Less than 50% of “Gen Y-ers” surveyed reported that they are likely to remain with their primary bank in the next six months. It is clear that savvy customers are no longer looking just at banks for their financial services’ needs.
In the meantime, non-bank provider solutions are cropping up right and left. For example, consider the UK lending and borrowing company, Zopa, which matches lenders with borrowers, leaving out the bank and offering better rates all around. Zopa is an example of a brand that can appeal more to rising expectations for self-determination. Weak experiences will cause your customers to jump ship to non-bank solutions like peer-to-peer lenders, crowdfunding sites, and mobile service providers.
So, how can traditional banks adapt to compete with this influx of newly available options? I propose by moving away from a traditional product-centric culture that exists just to create products to sell to customers to moving towards becoming a service culture. The purpose of this culture would be to offer personalised, engaging financial solutions that are founded on a reliable and real-time understanding of their customers—and their increasing expectations for seamless customer experiences.
Below are four ways to start transforming your customer experience:
1. Formulate a Concrete Customer Experience Strategy
On a recent visit to a European bank, I learned from the bank’s UX manager how the bank is undertaking a dramatic online redesign to provide more of a “Spotify” experience to banking. This bank was aiming to follow the way Spotify users can populate their music library with sounds that express their personality. Likewise, their redesign aims at enabling customers to select the financial services to suit their lifestyle.
In a decentralised or rapidly changing business, divergent channels and priorities can produce a complex and inconsistent customer experience. Rather than taking a reactive approach, examine the situations where an experience strategy can help to anchor goals and align your organisation around a strong vision. This can be through a dynamic playbook or a visual medium, serving as a roadmap to unite disparate priorities.
A company does not have to be functioning like a well-oiled machine for a strategy to be effective. It is precisely at the inflection points of a business where a strategic plan can be a vehicle to propel an organisation forward, giving a more informed approach to the customer experience.
2. Create a Tangible Framework for CX through Journey Mapping
As we’ve determined, customers are looking for choices and the ability to make these choices themselves. They want to do things that are not bound up in the old world of prescriptive solutions. This is why we hear so much emphasis on and around personalised, engaging and seamless customer experiences. But managing the quality and consistency of customer experiences can seem daunting.
My friend at the European bank confided that the biggest obstacle in actually gaining an accurate understanding of the customer is that the bank is drowning in data, which is growing at a rate that they are unable to control. To confound this, every division has its own data set that can give a different picture of the same customer.
In cases like these, it’s most helpful to create a framework to illustrate different streams of information. Journey mapping is one way to streamline such information, serving as a method for plotting actionable touch points that the customer may experience in interacting with a product or service.
Mapping out the complex customer lifestyle is a way to visually depict gaps, stress points and inconsistencies. Highlighting missed touch points and identifying opportunities will help unify the management of the overall customer experience.
3. Modernise your Applications and Platforms
I hear it said that keeping obsolete, difficult-to-use applications is a guaranteed recipe for customer abandonment. In a climate where global fintech venture investments tripled in five years, digitisation is the way to win. According to the World Retail Banking report I mentioned previously, building API-based banking apps and micro-services that are easy to use and flexible to scale, is one way to achieve this.
But the task of replacing manual processes with digital ones, or even updating applications, can seem formidable. Many banks have dozens of applications written in outdated, proprietary platforms such as Adobe Flex. You can formulate your migration approach and determine which applications to prioritise through a migration assessment framework.
Modernising your platforms will be a major push in providing an accessible, intuitive, multi-channel experience for your customers. In addition, applications and platforms that help orchestrate all the disparate data of the customer together can provide a fuller picture of the customer in real-time, thereby enabling the bank to offer those customers the most appropriate products and services.
4. Set up an Internal CX Centre of Excellence
In order to provide a strong focus on improving CX, consider setting up an internal centre of excellence (COE) to provide an enabling set of capabilities, resources, and best practices. This “centre” can standardise and promote customer-focused best practices across your organisation and align differing priorities.
The COE doesn’t require a large team or a physical centre. One client I worked with had a lean team of two. Another U.K. banking client had a team dedicated to CX, but they would meet virtually, as they were located in different areas around the globe. They often had web meetings where they shared insights gained from customer research, and identified the proper tools and techniques they needed for future CX projects. These are but two things of many activities that can take place in a COE.
The critical takeaway is that there is a team, or at least designated representatives, devoted to researching, implementing, and promoting strategies to finesse the customer experience. This will help align your organisation around the needs of the customer.
Banks who do not adjust their CX strategy soon will quickly be left behind. The new research insights I discussed from The Retail World Banking Report come not as a surprise, but rather a confirmation that strategic decisions must be guided by a desire to improve customer experience levels. This may prove the more lasting approach to remain the provider of choice in the future.