The banking industry has been under tremendous pressure in recent years – pressure to change and adapt with technology, pressure from a new breed of non-traditional competitors, and pressure from an upside-down interest rate environment. Just to name a few.
Congratulations! You’ve been managing to successfully meet those challenges and thrive under the pressure. You’re adapting to the changes, establishing and implementing your advanced digital strategies, evaluating and working with Fintech partners to stand out in the marketplace, and crunching the numbers to ensure you meet and exceed all of the necessary benchmarks along the way.
There’s one critical aspect to everything that you are doing, and everything that you should be doing: your customer.
At the end of the day, at the end of the year, at the end of the decade, it will be the customer that ultimately determines your success. More specifically, it will be the Customer Experience, or CX.
Banks are going to compete throughout the new decade not on their products and services, not on their rates and fees, but on the customer experience that they provide across all of their service delivery channels.
CX is about much more than customer service. Customer experience is your customers’ overall impression of your company or your brand based on all of their interactions across the entire customer journey. CX is critically important to the sustained growth of your bank. Ensuring a positive customer experience builds brand loyalty, spreads word-of-mouth marketing, gains recommendations, and reduces complaints.
Providing an Exceptional Customer Experience in 2020
- Customers, especially younger customers, look different now than they did 10, 20 or 30 years ago. But they still want the same thing they’ve always wanted – to be taken care of.
- As you’ve probably seen, customers expect everything faster now. That’s simply because technology enables that kind of speed. And you need to account for that.
- Customers care that they can connect with you, the way they want to connect with you, when they want to connect with you. That may be in person or by phone call, desktop computer, smartphone, tablet, text message, online chat, social media, mobile app, or other. They don’t know which channels you are comfortable with, and they don’t care. They want to use the channel that’s the easiest and most convenient for them.
- You understand your systems and their limitations. Some systems have access to all of the data, all of the time. Some only access some of the data. Some run batch processes that only update every so often. Again, your customers don’t care. They expect you to have all of the information, all of the time, across all channels. So when they check their balance at the branch, it should be the same as it is in online banking, and the same as it is at the ATM. When they find that it’s not, their customer experience suffers.
- To the customer, your employees are all one big team. So when customers communicate with someone to get their questions answered or problems resolved, they expect that person to be able to get it done or effectively escalate the issue on their behalf. Again, it doesn’t matter if departments don’t have the same systems, or access to the same applications or datasets. When technology doesn’t work effectively, neither can teams; frustrating both customers and employees.
- Customers expect to take action online. Paper forms in the bank need to be converted into online forms on the website. Customers don’t care if these are integrated into your core platform or not. Fillable PDFs aren’t good enough. Create an online form that they can submit securely. This continues to get easier and less expensive. Customers don’t care if you need to re-key the information (you would need to do this from a paper form anyway). They hate having to come to the bank unless absolutely necessary. Don’t waste their time.
- Design matters. Usability matters even more. Your web sites and mobile apps are essential elements of the customer experience. They must be beautiful and functional. Technology does not age well. Do not let these get stale or CX will suffer. Customers upgrade their phones every 2 years…how often do you upgrade your website?
- Mobile is a must. LKCS’ web developers have been saying this for years, but we still see bank web sites that are not mobile-friendly. This is no longer acceptable. At all. Your mobile experience should be as good as, if not better than, your desktop experience.
- Customers expect you to know them. They expect you to fully understand the relationships they have with you at all times. They want you to watch out for their best interests and anticipate their needs. Data is your friend. Your ability to manage and use the data that you have to personalize timely communications with your customers can differentiate you from your competitors.
Continuous CX Improvement
Like many things, developing and delivering an outstanding customer experience is not a one-time effort. It requires continuous effort and devotion. It begins with a customer-first mindset that your board and executives buy into so that the rest of the bank will follow.
After that, listen to your customers. Gather customer feedback through surveys, interviews, support tickets, chat logs, etc. Talk to your customers. Ask open ended questions and really dig into the answers. Send surveys to people who close their accounts and have bad experiences to learn what you did wrong. Train your team to listen.
Aim for steady, continuous improvement. Empower your staff to identify ways they can do better and recognize their accomplishments. Spread the energy through your bank so CX success goes viral.
How We Can Help
1.) As a full-service marketing services provider dedicated to the financial industry, LKCS plans and executes multi-channel marketing strategies for our clients. These range from individual product and service campaigns to sustained data-driven on-boarding and acquisition initiatives. Whatever your goals or initiatives, we can design a methodology for you to reach them, launch the deliverables, report on the results, and refine for incremental progress.
2.) Our programmers and data experts provide solutions for our customers to gain actionable insight from their big data. We’ve built the DataFlex platform to combine enterprise-class business intelligence and analytics with a drag and drop interface. The result is nearly effortless analysis allowing clients to improve marketing efficiency and leverage their data to personalize the customer experience.
3.) Our Digital Services team is standing by to refresh your website or add next generation capabilities. For example, it is now feasible to deliver a personalized experience to your site’s visitors – presenting content based on their user profile, online behaviors, bank relationships, and demographics.
4.) LKCS has amassed a wide-ranging array of top tier marketing and customer communication solutions that we employ across all channels for our clients. Extend pre-screen loan offers based on credit bureau data via direct mail, e-mail, or even included in your account statements. Send e-mail follow up communications to “anonymous” customers who used a retirement calculator but didn’t contact one of your investment representatives. Enable mortgage seekers to pre-qualify themselves through your web site in less than 5 minutes. Let your business owners share access to their e-statements with their trusted employees, accountant, or tax professional without needing access to online banking or their personal account data.
The customer experience expectations of today’s consumer have been set high by companies outside of the banking sector, like Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks. Customer satisfaction now depends more on the quality of how you engage and communicate with them than on the slight advantages of your products and services over your competitors.
LKCS is well suited to partner with you to improve the customer experience. We invite you to learn more about our products and services by visiting us online at lk-cs.com or calling us at 866.552.7866.
This article originally appeared in Illinois Banker magazine.
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