Reputation rebound: How have banks repaired customer relationships?

Piggy bank
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Have you ever had a cup of coffee in your bank branch?

According to our new ‘Youbiquity Finance’ research, dropping into your local bank branch for a cuppa has increased in the UK in the past 2 years (from 15% in our last version of the research in 2014, to 22% today).

However, this isn’t because there is any lack of decent cappuccino available on the High Street. It’s because 51% of banking customers say that they are looking for more guidance about banking and insurance products. Younger generations are the most likely to need their financial decisions caffeinated, with less than half (47%) saying that they were confident in making their own financial decisions.

Yet banking has been an industry that has experienced a huge shift into digital service, where much of the relationship is conducted at arm’s length. ‘Youbiquity Finance’ is a piece of research done on just over 3,000 banking and insurance customers in the UK, Germany and Spain by Davies Hickman in association with BT and Avaya. It examines how relationships with financial service providers have been changing over the past five years. Over that period we have seen omnichannel becoming mainstream and our smart phones becoming the portal into our financial world.

But, before we get too carried away, the data suggests that we only seem to use our smart phones for the simple stuff – to balance checks or make simple queries. For bigger tasks – like researching products, opening accounts, making policy changes and complaints - we turn to bigger screens and beyond.

A hug in a virtual mug

One in three of us are trying to complete more complex transactions online and either having to make multiple attempts to get to our goals or failing altogether.

Simple things like finding the ‘back’ button (reportedly problematic with 20% of the sample), getting confused by the small print (40%) and getting access to reassurance (19%) were creating digital frustration. Winning the wooden coffee stirrer for failure was making a complaint online (31% of customers saying that they made more than five attempts) and making an appointment with a financial advisor (with 6% of customers reportedly trying more than five times).

This shows that there are times when customers need to get a hug, albeit sometimes in a virtual mug – either on the telephone (43%), via email (24%) or with that espresso in a physical branch (42%).

Webchat’s place in this has soared more than 100% since our 2012 Youbiquity research sample. 62% said that webchat might give them more confidence to do more online. However, less than one in four UK customers admitted to having tried it.

Automated help or robo-advice wasn’t a popular alternative to real human help in this situation - with only one in six saying that automated advice would be useful, even if it cost less to access than a real financial advisor. 39% said that they simply wanted access to more knowledgeable staff and 43% wanted a named individual to deal with.

Video: the end of ‘procaffeination’?

One of the channels that seems to be gaining in popularity is video. 40% of UK customers said that they wanted video chat to be available on their financial providers’ website.

Video has always been seemingly caught in a state of ‘procaffeination’ (according to my t-shirt, this is a state in which you can’t start doing anything until you’ve had a cup of coffee). As many customer experiences are becoming more automated and remote, video seems to offer a way of connecting that may not directly involve a cuppa but can provide customers with a richer sense of presence, a more personalised experience and the ability to share real-time content in a way that is scalable.

After the huge deflation in consumer confidence following the global financial crisis, many banks seem to have woken up and smelt the coffee of customer experience.

That’s why Gartner has put video chat on the ascendant part of their CRM and customer experience hype cycle. The other advantage of video (cited by 68% of customers) was more about instant coffee – the ability to get immediate access to expertise without needing to make an appointment.

Impatience is certainly a trend in financial services. Good things may come to those who wait, but financial services seem to be a bit of a frustrating waiting game for many. 38% of UK customers said that they expected to have to wait too long to speak to someone who can address their particular issue. 27% said that seeing a specialist, like a mortgage advisor, took too long.

In addition to access to video expertise, the ability to book appointments online (as you might with an Apple guru) or to bypass a queue in branch (by allowing the bank to recognise when you’ve entered using your smartphone) were rated highly by customers who wanted to get to their goals faster.

Banks seem to be waking up and smelling the customer experience coffee

Ultimately, the results of the 2016 Youbiquity finance research brew a favourable picture of the state of customer experience in the financial services industry.

After the huge deflation in consumer confidence following the global financial crisis, many banks seem to have woken up and smelt the coffee of customer experience. The beans of better experiences are definitely in the grinder, as the number of customers saying that their bank puts its customers at the heart of its business has risen from 19% in 2014  to 33% in 2016.

UK banks have seen a significant increase in the number of customers saying they have a strong relationship with their bank – up from 29% to 35%. This re-caffeination of relationships also means that customers are willing to buy more products and services (with 45% of UK customers saying that they would consider buying insurance products from their banks).

With banks now offering more varied and efficient customer services, thanks to video, webchat and online booking programmes, the relationship between the customer and financial services receives a caffeine hit and we are beginning to see it improve. So there seem to be a few perks to percolating better customer relationships that go beyond a simple cup of coffee.

Nicola Millard
Lead Customer Experience Consultant
BT
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31st Dec 2016 06:47

Not only banks, the digital transformation has created significant changes in other industries as well, like telecoms. Customers eveyrwhere have access to new support channels like mobile apps, self-care portals, chat, and more. Moreover, with the evolution of end-user preferences, CX has become the new game-changer for service providers. Thus, business owners need to invest in delivering a better experience, right from the day the user joins the board. A few tips to help service providers onboard customers to their services for better results are discussed here. http://www.kochartech.com/blog/2016/12/30/best-practices-onboarding-cust... Hope you find this useful

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