The guiding tenet of cultivating an exceptional customer experience is that the customer is the heart of the business. In focusing on that essential principle, financial institutions can lose sight of the broader perspective that customer experience is not limited to the interactions with customer service staff, but also includes any other activities associated with being a customer of an organization. A customer’s true experience is actually a collection of interactions between clients, individual customers, and the business. As a result, your bank needs a complete and transparent understanding of the customer’s needs and experiences across each touch point with the business. From that perspective, we begin to understand that customer experience extends beyond person-to-person interactions and includes organizational procedures, processes, and multichannel technology platforms.
One thing is certain, customer experience is the defining business success factor, now and in years to come.
Consider these customer experience insights:
- It was estimated that in 2018, more than 50% of organizations implemented significant business model changes in their efforts to improve customer experience. – (Gartner)
- By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. (Walker)
- 95% of unhappy customers share their bad experience. (Dimensional Research)
- 82% of consumers say the number one factor that leads to a great customer service experience is having their issues resolved quickly. (Econsultancy)
- 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, but only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. (Oracle – CEI Survey)
- 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a more consistent experience. – (SuperOffice)
- By 2016, 89% of companies surveyed expected to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago. – (Gartner)
Considering these statistics, financial institutions can benefit from broadening their perspectives and developing a customer strategy that addresses each touchpoint directly. An effective customer experience strategy can be achieved through the alignment of certain key tactics.
Begin with Customer Expectations
In order to deliver a high standard of care, a thoroughly developed customer strategy must start with knowing your customers and their expectations.
Customers are individuals and want to be treated as such. It’s important to understand who your customers are, as well as to identify them within uniquely aligned segments. This approach will enable customer interactions to be tailored to the expectations for each customer segment versus a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, customer calls should be flexible rather than cold, transactional interactions. One simple, yet meaningful, adjustment is to begin customer calls with “How can I help you?” instead of the typical introduction, “Can I have your account number or coverage ID?”
An effective customer experience strategy is not a marketing initiative, but an organization-wide initiative to enhance all interactions with customers and elevate their experience in all touchpoints. As a result, this strategy will need to align with the goals and methods of Sales, Operations, Customer Service, Compliance, and any other department within your organization.
Each department needs to have deep understanding of and active engagement in the implementation of the customer experience strategy. In order to encourage successful adoption of the strategy, consider these key components:
- Take ownership for processes & activities that create customer challenges and issues
- Empower employees to resolve customer issues
- Mobilize quickly and address customer challenges promptly
- Actively pursue and remove customer stressors
Capture and Use Voice of the Customer (VOC) Data to Drive Future Results
Customer data must be captured at all touchpoints and across any channels where interactions take place, such as via phone, web, and/or written correspondence. Feedback must also be captured as close to real-time as possible in order to effectively measure and evaluate the highest quality of communication. Further, VOC data must be tied to individual interactions (service agents) where appropriate.
Align Training Strategies with Quality Standards
Developing training strategies that not only reflect your bank’s quality standards, but equip employees to continue developing as individuals, helps ensure that your customers’ needs will not only be met, but exceeded. Incorporating a sustainable, focused customer experience strategy into your financial institution’s DNA can be a cultural shift which will require a structured training roll-out along with an accompanying quality-management program that consistently measures for success. However, aligning your quality standards and training procedures is critical to the ongoing success of a customer experience strategy.
Leverage Employee Feedback in the Process
Many organizations conduct an annual survey of employees to assess levels of satisfaction and opportunities for growth. However, in a society and market where things change minute to minute, gathering feedback once per calendar year does not provide sufficient insight into a rapidly changing business space. Ongoing mechanisms to capture employee feedback, ideas, and innovations need to be developed and cultivated. Whether you choose to conduct surveys on an ongoing schedule, provide consistent opportunities for employees to have face to face interaction with executive management and leadership, or simply request on an ongoing basis that employees report in, even anonymously, with evaluations and recommendations, there are multiple ways to go about acquiring helpful data to assist in guiding your strategy from within. When employees see themselves as effective change agents, assisting in the process of driving and guiding customer experience, a cultural shift takes place that will propel and drive your strategies to the next level. The excitement that “buy in” generates will filter into the conversations and interactions they have with your customers and become another pillar of support in your customer experience strategy.
Measure the Benefits of Improving the Customer Experience
A variety of tools can aid in measuring the success of a customer experience strategy across departments, including elements of sales, client retention, and VOC data. In order to ensure that you are meeting the wants and needs of the customers, an organization needs to consistently conduct self-evaluations in order to guide and shape the strategy. Considering the fast-paced nature of technology, and how your customers and the market responds as a result, your bank needs regular assessment mechanisms in place to remain agile in the rapidly developing financial institution space.
Capturing and monitoring ongoing data that answers these two questions is key:
- “Would you recommend this company to a friend or relative?”
- “Would you hire the person you interacted with in your company?”
In a culture saturated by options, even slight adjustments can differentiate your organization from others in the market. A seemingly small, but personal touch can cause ripple effects that will have a lasting impact on your current customer base and drive future growth opportunities. By providing an exceptional, multi-channel customer experience, your bank can cultivate a new level of customer satisfaction and engagement that simultaneously builds brand loyalty and drives growth.