Customer experience in Financial Services

In a recent blog, I wrote about the increasing prominence of AI in financial services. It’s one of the areas I’ll be presenting on at this year’s OpenText Enterprise World, our annual customer conference. The other session I’ll be holding is around customer experience. It’s a hot topic that’s topping the agenda of most financial services CIOs. I thought I’d use this blog to give you a flavor of what you can expect when you join us in Toronto this July.

Last year Digital Banking Report released an 85-page survey entitled ‘Improving the Customer Experience in Banking’. Some of findings were sobering. It found that, while Banking CIOs put customer experience at the top of their business priorities, only 28% thought their customer experience programs had a significant impact. In one banking sector, a quarter of respondents reckoned their programs had impacted them negatively. While this research covered retail banking and credit unions, I think it does reflect the wider financial services industry. We know that customer experience is the basis of profitable, sustainable business, but we are still struggling to deploy the excellent tools and technologies available to their maximum effect.

Go digital or go home

The Digital Banking Report survey highlighted a number of reasons why the customer experience investments being made were failing to deliver the expected benefits. Among these were the fact that most of objectives that banks set for their programs weren’t actually about customer experience as much as internal business process improvement. It revealed that only 40% of respondents had a customer experience plan and less than a quarter had a department dedicated to customer experience.

For me, the biggest area of concern was their attitude to digital services and omni-channel delivery. At a time when customers in all sectors of financial services are demanding increasingly digital services, the minds of respondents seemed stuck in previous business models. When they were asked to rank what drove customer satisfaction, for example, the banks placed branch personnel above digital channels.

Yet, when they were asked which customer experience initiatives were most effective, digital delivery – both mobile and web – came out on top. How’s that for a reality gap?

It’s not that financial services companies don’t understand the benefits of digital engagement. It seems to me that there is still a struggle to properly achieve digital transformation – not just digitize the products and delivery channels, but to change the business processes to a digital-first, customer-centric approach. That’s what I’ll be talking about during Enterprise World – and we’ll hear from Financial Services companies that have already made the transition.

Making a digital customer experience happen

This is a preview blog so I don’t want to give too much away. I just want to whet your appetite so I’ll briefly outline some key areas that all financial service companies need to address in order to deliver the level of experience that their customers are demanding.

Focus on them not you

Customer experience should be just that – an experience based around the customer. If your program objectives are things like ‘increase share of wallet’ or ‘lower touch service delivery’ then you are really just putting window dressing around your existing business processes. What is it that your customers actually want? How can you best deliver against this? Is there anything that your customers want that you aren’t currently doing? That’s where low-cost, profitable business lies. For example, a huge global study by Bain & Co. found that at least half of the customers who bought from another bank would have purchased from their primary bank if that bank had made an offer when they were looking for a new product. Their banks weren’t communicating with them on their buying journeys.

Move from reactive to proactive

In the Digital Banking Report survey, the top item driving customer satisfaction was thought to be ‘customer support and resolution’. The implication has to be that the respondents thought that customer satisfaction was only triggered when there was a problem. This is not true. We know that most people would prefer to use digital services for simple, repetitive tasks – checking their balance or transferring funds – and will look for the best self-service solution to make that happen. The Millennials and Generation Ys of this world are not burdened with the almost slavish loyalty of their baby boomer counterparts.

Create a true omni-channel experience

You need to create a truly omni-channel business. Dealing with your organization has to be seamless across all channels to allow your customers to engage with you when, where and how they want to. You must remember, however, that the branch office is a channel. People may love the convenience and ease-of-use of digital products and services, but there will never be any replacement for the human relationship. As soon as the transaction becomes high value or emotionally connecting, such as mortgage advice or estate planning, people will always want to deal with people.

Lead through analytics

Like every other industry sector, AI and analytics is moving to the center of business operations. With the vast amounts of data available to financial services firms, gaining insight quickly will lead to informed decisions that drive innovation and business improvements while building trust and loyalty with customers. You can leverage the latest advanced analytics, AI and machine learning to develop highly personalized and context-driven customer experiences,

Build your partner ecosystem

The value chain of banks and financial services companies is growing and this will continue as companies look to extend the portfolio of products and services they can offer customers. This is one of the reasons that much of the talk at the last SIBOS was on the emergence of API banking. It led one speaker at the event to suggest that banks and fintechs should become ‘friends with benefits’. All financial services companies need to build a strong ecosystem of partners with close digital connections to deliver seamless experience to the customer – regardless who owns the activity.

I hope that’s given you just enough to be interested. If it has, can I suggest you do two things.

First, register now. You will have the chance to hear how one of the Big Four banks of Canada use OpenText products to acquire new customers and engage existing customers. Another Big Four bank will talk about their approach to regulatory and customer demands for credit cards, and many other financial services institutions will share how they deliver digital, personalized communications like policies, correspondence and indemnity cards to create better customer engagement and drive customer loyalty. Think of the advantages that will come from ripening your skills with tips, tricks and best practices to master your implementation. You can develop plans and strategies to use when you get back to work. So don’t miss this opportunity!

Secondly, look out for my next blog when I’ll go into a little more detail about how to drive excellent customer experience through your organization.

See all the activities geared to the Financial Services industry at this year’s Enterprise World. Your experience at Enterprise World will be invaluable. You will have the opportunity to meet hundreds of other OpenText customers, and the chance to learn from them as they share their knowledge and experiences. It all takes place in Toronto, the exciting, cosmopolitan, financial-capital of Canada. I look forward to seeing you there, register now.

Gerry Gibney

Gerry is Senior Industry Strategist for the financial services industry, with over 25 years' experience in banking and investment management. Before OpenText, he worked at Fiserv Investment Services Group and Microsoft. He is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

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