How financial services should manage customer experience in a digital age

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Abhishek Soni

Financial services

This piece was originally published on the PEX Network

Managing customer experience has become a priority for every banking and financial leader in our current digital age. 79% of banking, insurance, and fintech CEOs believe customer expectations are shaped by hyper-relevant, real-time and dynamic experience encountered across the industry. The emergence of new digital technologies and changing customer behavior has contributed immensely in focusing on customer experience in the banking industry.

Emergence of new threats

The digital revolution has had a significant impact on the banking and financial services industry. Earlier banks operated as financial intermediaries relying on brick and mortar branches to engage with their customers and thereby earned their profits. But post digital revolution, this traditional model is disrupted by digital innovators. FinTech firms emerged as new competitors for traditional banks by offering innovative ways of delivering financial solutions. Technology firms like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon also made forays in the financial services industry, offering alternative financial solutions.

Read more: Defining Digital Experience

Changing customer behavior

There has been a symbolic shift in customer preferences and behavior in the present digital age due to the rapid expansion of mobile and internet connectivity. Customers want relevant advice and product information at their fingertips as they go about their daily lives. Most customers are less and less likely to care about which channel they use to communicate with their financial services provider. Customers want quick and easy access to service offerings. Customers are not only embracing a do-it-yourself (DIY) model - they are also demanding it.

Financial services customer experience management

Current state of customer experience

Banks have responded to these threats from digital innovators and changes in customer behavior by redesigning their operating model leveraging digital platform solutions. Banks have started offering products across multiple channels in anticipation to meet customer demands. But there is a fundamental problem with this product or channel-centric view of the banks. These omni-channel digital offerings have radically changed the way banks engage with their customers and they have far deeper ramifications on the overall customer experience.

Today a client experiences a wide variety of service levels across different channels. While there is a spectrum of offerings across different channels, ironically clients have limited choices within a channel. Clients often find themselves caught in a hapless situation during inter-department handoffs.

Moreover, clients get overwhelmed by technological features and lose sight of the core product offering. Although clients are inundated with data and notifications, they are not aware of the information they are seeking.

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Currently, customer journey is marred by various issues leaving a bad taste in the customer’s mouth. Some of the issues and their impact on the customers are:

• Complex and confusing paths are making the customer journey susceptible to misinterpretation.
• Repetitive and redundant steps are making the customer journey frustrating.
• Limited ability to monitor and track requests are making customer anxious.
• Channels and departments operating in silos focusing on individual KPIs are not aligning with the end-customer’s expectation.
• Benefits of faster turn around and better service quality at individual touch points are getting forfeited due to delays at inter-department handoffs.
• Failure demand or missing SLAs are resulting in bitter customer experience.

Financial services customer experience strategy

These harrowing journeys contribute to unpleasant customer experiences and eventually results in customer churn. There is, therefore, an urgent need for banks to revisit their existing customer journey and take mitigating measures to transform the customer experience.

Customer journey mapping

To understand the customer experience, banks need to take a holistic view of end to end customer journey from an end-customer perspective. Customer experience is an aggregation of all the interactions a customer has throughout their lifecycle with the organization. Hence organizations need to focus on a customer’s cumulative experience across multiple touch points and channel over time. Banks need to avoid driving disassociated improvement initiatives at individual department levels. Analyzing end to end customer journeys cutting across different departments will enable banks to uncover the root cause of the customer dissatisfaction and define expected outcomes.

Financial services customer experience specialist

Holistic customer experience strategy

Service Blueprinting is an excellent toolkit which banks can utilize to analyze customer journeys and create a distinctive and satisfying customer experience. Service Blueprinting is a customer-focused approach to map the customer journey. In this approach, processes which constitute customer journey of target customers are graphically depicted along with a sequence of user actions, service response and touch points that enables service relationship.

Financial services customer engagement strategy

The following steps outline an approach to mapping customer journey utilizing Service Blueprinting:

Establish Goal: Determine the goal of the Service Blueprinting and define the scope of the customer journey of the service offering.

Identify Personas: Identify different personas (representative user type) from the customer population. Define attributes, behavior, needs, and expectations of each persona

Map customer journey: Map end to end-customer journey for the identified persona from end customer perspective. Include user actions and service response from onstage and backstage staff at different stages of the customer journey. Capture the customer’s state of mind along the customer journey.

Identify Gap: Determine customer satisfaction level across different stages of the customer journey. Discover gaps between actual and expected customer experience and their associated reasons

Optimize Journey: Simplify and streamline the customer journey. Prioritize actions based on the gap in customer satisfaction and relative customer importance.

Enhance Experience: Gather customer insights from the customer journey maps. Design solutions and interfaces to enhance customer experience and empower customer.

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