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Four steps to banking on an improved customer experience

19th Aug 2014
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With proliferating channels, heated competition and increasingly demanding customers, great customer experience across all touch points is imperative for financial services companies today. A consistently great customer experience can offer a competitive edge, help build customer satisfaction and loyalty to the brand, and increase sales.

Financial services companies that fail to provide consistent, seamless, and effective interactions with their customers not only frustrate them, but also run the risk of losing these customers to competitors that are able to meet their expectations. However, creating a positive and consistent experience across channels is easier said than done. The financial services sector is responsible for reaching customers anytime and anywhere, via each of the growing number of online and offline channels, all the while anticipating what, if any, struggles they face through their customer journey.

Overwhelmingly omni-channel

In recent years, the financial industry has seen explosive growth in the number of people using mobile and online banking: 80% of UK consumers interact online with their bank at least once a month, while mobile banking usage has risen to 27%, from 21% in 2012. Customers typically use multiple devices — mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers — when interacting with their banks and insurance providers. And they demand a seamless and easy experience across each of these devices and channels.

Complicating this further is the fact that customers use a combination of channels before making a purchase. They may begin by researching a product or service on a website using a smartphone or tablet, and then visit a branch or use their mobile phone to call the contact centre as well. This omni-channel experience makes it imperative for banks and other financial services companies to offer a customer experience that’s integrated, consistent and reliable, regardless of channel or device.

So here are four steps all financial services companies can take to achieve an integrated digital customer experience:

1. Be consistent across all channels

Consistency across channels is vital to enable customers to easily familiarise themselves with the business’ brand and sites. There is nothing more annoying for customers than when they switch from a website to a mobile app or site and cannot quickly and easily navigate through it, or lose the items they ‘saved’ when switching between channels.

But even if the experience between channels is consistent, it’s often not reliable. Websites and mobile apps sometimes experience technical faults that make it challenging and frustrating for customers to navigate, driving them to abandon transactions altogether. As a result, financial services companies must look at putting in place customer analytics tools that can pick up web and mobile app problems, detect customer struggles and rectify them before customers abandon a transaction.

2. Don’t fly blind

When customers who have been frustrated by an unpleasant online or mobile experience call in to the contact centre, they are typically greeted by agents who require not only that customers authenticate themselves, but also that customers inform them about the problem in detail. Agents are not armed with the right information to effectively serve customers, and are forced to use customers as a diagnostic tool, asking them questions like “what did you see on your screen?” and “can you tell me what error message you received and what you entered?”

To prevent these occurrences, financial services businesses need to look at putting in place customer experience management technology that can bridge the gap between online and offline channels. This will give them complete context of their customers’ web experiences, with the ability to review session history reports to gain further insight into everything they previously browsed on the website. It can also enable businesses to replay customer sessions to see exactly what the customer was doing and what they saw online. If there is an obstacle or issue, the agent would then be able to validate what the customer experienced and work towards a resolution.

3. Use targeted information to upsell

Beyond customer frustration and churn, such as lack of visibility causes, there is also a missed opportunity to turn your call center into a profit machine instead of just a cost center. Without context into what a customer was doing online before calling, you have no frame of reference for how best to serve them, based on their needs and behaviors.

Let’s say, for instance, I contact my bank’s call centre because I have an issue with a wire transfer. If the call centre agent has visibility to see that during my last five visits to the site, I looked at home equity lines of credit, they would have a huge opportunity to offer me promotions to get me to complete the sale. It’s these types of interactions that help create a profit centre that will drive revenue growth.

4. Payoff potential

To truly optimise the digital experience, financial services companies must have deep insight into their customers’ behaviour online so they can identify and rectify issues and present customers with easy-to-use mobile and online capabilities.

Businesses that get the customer experience right can reap a myriad of benefits, including increased cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, decreased contact centre traffic, and ultimately more loyal and satisfied customers. Financial services businesses must complement their use of traditional web analytics with tools that enable them to see what customers experience on their digital channels. As a result, they have better insight on their customers’ needs and enhance their digital capabilities, uncover unnoticed obstacles and quickly resolve errors through practical, informed help from customer service.

Ultimately, it’s these businesses that will garner a competitive edge in the omni-channel age, while their competitors will fail to compete.

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