Improving CX in times of uncertainty
Covid has accelerated the need for FSOs to improve the customer experience.
The financial services industry, according to a 2020 study by Capgemini, has been the slowest industry to implement AI at scale. The study also states that half of the industry's customers say they receive no value from AI-enabled interactions whatsoever. This is despite the fact that firms are outwardly claiming they are prioritising improved customer experience, and using AI to do so. So, what's going wrong?
A recent survey by the Digital Banking Report, outlining the priorities of major financial institutions around the globe, found that improving the customer experience is second only to digital transformation in 2021. Covid has undoubtedly been the main driver behind accelerating the top priority, as businesses grapple with remote working. But, while improving the customer experience (CX) has long been on the agenda for financial services organisations (FSOs), progress has been sluggish. With competition fierce and the expectations of a Covid-weary public higher than ever, 2021 is the year to take CX seriously and for the industry to finally start listening, and talking, to customers.
What customers want
The 2001 film What Women Want sees chauvinistic ad man, Nick Marshall, struggle to market his products to women. Selling to men comes naturally to him, but he is unable to do the same for women. When he is electrocuted in a freak accident, he is magically given the powers to hear the thoughts of women, in order to give them exactly what they want.
Twenty years on, the film jars (even more than it did at the time) with our views of liberalism and equality; the fact that it takes electrocution to enable Marshall to understand the needs of women seems extreme, even laughable, now. But the character's ultimate success in being able to understand what people want still stands. If we could hear the inner thoughts of our customers, we could meet them exactly where they want to be. Thankfully technology, rather than electrocution, can help.
Expectations transcend industry
Customers' expectations are now higher than ever thanks to the seamless, personalised experiences on offer from the likes of Amazon and Uber. These experiences transcend industry and sector - they are expected everywhere, regardless of the product on offer. Failing to meet those expectations only encourages customers to switch off. Today’s customer is savvy; they can instantly spot if an organisation isn't prepared to meet their needs and they are often quick to move to another provider. Yes, reputation builds loyalty, but one misstep can end relationships. This is particularly true in the age of Covid, where the level of distress among customers requiring urgent financial support or advice is high.
It's hardly surprising that FSOs have struggled with improving CX. Complex financial products can make for a complicated path to purchase. And it's not just the products that are nuanced, it's the personal circumstances of each individual purchasing them. Streamlining and personalising this process in a way that can guarantee compliance while meeting the expectations of service and experience, is where the biggest gains can be made.
Back to basics
The best way for providers to simplify complicated financial products is to talk to their customers. And customers do want to hear from their banks and building societies. Research has revealed that only 15% of people don’t think human interaction is important when they’re making a purchase. This leaves the vast majority keen to speak to someone. And through speaking to customers, a personalised service can be offered. Familiarity with customers when they answer the phone harks back to the golden age of in-person high street banking - something craved by consumers. The research above backs this up, with 62% of people saying they want a more personalised experience when buying over the phone. This level of personalisation breeds loyalty and ultimately greater customer profitability.
The tools now exist to instantly analyse caller data and build a holistic picture of each customer. Why are they calling? Which product do they want information about and who is the best agent to deal with it? The use of AI can now give us all of this information. But the industry, and most importantly its customers, must see the value in it.
FSOs need to prioritise customer centricity, and technology makes that possible. Using data from every customer touchpoint, to deliver the personalised experiences people crave, will undoubtedly be the key to understanding what every customer wants.
This blog was written by Ross Fobian, co-founder and CEO of ResponseTap