In the early 2000’s brand loyalty and customer satisfaction levels for a business were driven purely based on the quality of service or product offered. But today, consumers base their trust on the total buying experience they encounter from a business rather than just the product or service they invest in. In fact, studies show that 86% of consumers will be happy to pay more for a better customer experience. The financial services industry too has learned the importance of customer experience in their business models. This coincides with the rising levels of smartphone penetration and a highly digital savvy consumer base that are re-shaping the way financial transactions are executed and managed.
In this environment, here are the top 5 customer experience challenges that leaders in financial service organizations must identify and address to survive in a highly competitive sector
The growth of smartphones has been world-changing. This too had a direct relation to customer experience as the Android and iOS mobile ecosystem brought the PC experience seamlessly into handheld gadgets. Today, Statista reports that there are over 3.5 billion smartphone users and this number will grow to more than 3.8 billion by 2021. Forbes reports that two-thirds of consumers who use the internet access it from their mobile phones. So, when banks and financial service organizations build new internet-based channels and applications for their services to improve customer communications, the priority should be to ensure mobile-friendliness.
Today’s consumers do not want to visit a physical branch or office for their financial needs. Obviously, that has now become the post-pandemic norm too. Instead, they seek self-service applications for things like loans, wealth management, and investments. While technology has helped financial service companies provide more self-service options, there is a growing pressure on them to make the experience simple, intuitive, and transparently seamless. This is especially true of the growing cadre of “newly digital” consumers.
At the same time, they have to ensure that every customer gets a personalized experience on par with what they get from a physical branch associate who attends to their needs during a visit.
This challenge can be addressed through two major technology practices that need to be cultivated in self-service mechanisms – a seamless user experience focus during front-end interface development for customer channels and using big data analytics combined with AI to better understand customer needs and subsequently deliver personalized services, define workflows, and offer recommendations.
As more technology companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and a large number of startups make their foray into the financial space with tech-driven products, the rising millennial population is increasingly preferring them over traditional financial service organizations. Surveys show that 73 % of millennials would be more excited to try out a new financial product or offering from a technology company like Google rather than the local bank their parents associated with for years. While the traditional workflow of availing a personal loan or financial assistance would have taken a day or two, several app-based financing businesses offer loans that are disbursed in a matter of minutes with a few verifications. This combination of speed and convenience is what the millennial generation of today expects from the experience their financial services vendor provides.
The mantra of “Customer is King” still holds true for any business today and the financial service business is no exception. But, the more successful companies treat their employees on par with how they treat customers. Engaging your employees well, providing them with useful tools and information to deliver more value in their jobs, and creating a rewarding job experience is important. Studies have shown that companies with engaged employees outperform the competition by nearly 147%. Financial services firms need to find new ways to leverage employee-facing technology to make life easier for their staff be it through innovative collaboration platforms, knowledge discovery tools, intelligent CRM platforms and much more. Ensuring that your employees have access to the best resources is a key milestone in enabling a better customer experience for your brand. Remember that the digital front office must be digital for the customer as well as the employee who serves them.
For financial service providers, the goal today is not to sell products but to make customers aware of how their service or product can eliminate a challenge or facilitate a life goal for the customer. To make this experience a reality, financial services must invest in obtaining insights about different avenues where customers are likely to invest for their needs, the long-term implications of these investments and favorable timelines for the investment to provide returns for the customer. They need to then align their service offerings with this knowledge about customer needs and build a knowledge-driven selling experience when customers reach out. For example, linking interests on loans for business to the growth prospects of the business based on its nature, customizing tenures and flexible payment options for personal loans, providing advisory on investing in savings schemes, should all be based on how well the service provider understand their customer.
The customer experience is shaping up to be the core of the strategy of forward-looking financial services companies. That’s why every attempt should be made to ensure that every interaction the customer has with the business is guaranteed to deliver a great experience. When a financial services company is able to offer great customer experience, profits will come about naturally and more importantly, sustainably as they will be driven by deep customer loyalty.