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Is your customer experience program having the right impact?

In this article Mike Lord examines customer experience programs through the lens of the Australian financial services sector.

Is your customer experience program having the right impact?

We are in the age of the customer.

It’s now widely acknowledged that companies that prioritise the experience for their customers, can deliver better benefits for everyone. So why isn’t every company hyper-focused on delivering great customer experience? And if businesses have a dedicated program in place, how can they ensure it’s having the right impact? Given the issues currently facing the banking and finance sector in Australia, it’s timely to assess customer experience through this industry’s lens, to see what’s being done well, and what could be optimised for greater effect.

Last year, Digital Banking Report released an 85-page survey entitled ‘Improving the Customer Experience in Banking’. Some of the 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 felt their programs had impacted them negatively. We know that customer experience is the basis of profitable, sustainable business, and yet it would seem that many are still struggling to deploy the right tools and technologies, 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. Firstly, many of the objectives the banks had 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 in place and less than a quarter had a department dedicated to customer experience.

Arguably, the biggest area of concern that emerged throughout the report was the banks’ attitude to digital services and omni-channel delivery. At a time when customers in all sectors of banking and finance are demanding increased digital services, and more physical branches are closing, 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. Talk about a reality gap!

It’s not that financial services providers don’t understand the benefits of digital engagement. There is a continuous challenge to properly achieve digital transformation – not just digitise products and delivery channels, but change the overall business mindset to a digital-first, customer-centric approach. Granted, Australia is leagues ahead of some countries in its approach to delivering digital financial services, but more can be done.

Making a digital customer experience happen

There are a number of key areas that banking and financial services providers must address in order to deliver the level of experience that their customers are demanding:

  1. 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.

    Consider what it is 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.

  2. 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’. This implies 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 loyalty of their baby boomer counterparts.

  3. Create a true omni-channel experience

    Dealing with your organisation 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.

  4. Lead through analytics

    Like every other industry sector, AI and analytics is moving to the centre 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 personalised and context-driven customer experiences.

Deploying a robust customer experience program that aligns with these areas will help a business of any size surge ahead, while delivering on the quality of service and personalisation that today’s and future consumers know and expect.

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