Why Financial Services Firms Need a CX Strategy

Every industry has been tremendously impacted by the advent of the smartphone, but few more than the financial industry.

CX for BanksPhones and even wearable technology have changed the way that people manage personal and business finances, shop for insurance, perform routine financial transactions, and even buying real estate with a couple swipes.

But according to The Financial Brand’s 85-page report on customer experience (CX) in the financial sector, a majority of banks are only making CX an afterthought to their other priorities, with only 37% having a solid CX plan.

While banks aren’t the only component of the financial industry, they’re definitely the entity the average consumer is most likely to interact with. Despite the unprecedented opportunity for highly-personalized engagement and offers among other new capabilities that modern technology has made possible, banks aren’t making the moves to improve CX that they should.

What Do Banks and Financial Services Firms Need to Consider in Forming a CX Strategy?

All kinds of transactions can be done across various channels today: customers can perform routine banking transactions as well as more complicated ones without having to go to a branch or request an agent’s assistance.

First, if your institution has physical locations, how can you get customers into branches?

What kind of experience can they expect from the staff and how can they go out of their way to make every customer feel appreciated while also respecting their time?

Most people opt for online and mobile banking, insurance, and other financial services because their time is valuable and they don’t want to go to a branch or contact customer service for every transaction.

What are ways that banks can provide more convenience for customers such as offering small bills at ATMs?

The Myopia of the Branch Experience: Put Digital First

Since so much of the financial services experience is digital today, firms need to focus more on digital engagement than transactional views of the customer. Presenting personalized offers, asking for ongoing feedback to assess user experience, and improving interaction quality if the customer needs to request support are all vital tactics that digital platforms can provide. Firms can also take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to sales, as well as give the customer something they can’t get at other institutions as a means to show true differentiation in the customer experience.

While having a good branch experience and giving incentive to stop by one is important, it shouldn’t be the sole focus of CX strategy which is the mistake that most financial services marketing departments are making. The focus is missing the mark on improving customer engagement and CX because branches and products aren’t what most people think of today when it comes to the financial services they use.

Offering convenience like small bills is just part of the picture: online account management alone isn’t enough anymore. How can the digital experience be improved?

What difficulties are customers facing when accessing their accounts on different platforms such as web-based mobile banking and dedicated apps for your institution?

Are there “dark patterns” in your user experience that are seriously inconveniencing customers?

For insurance companies, what are ways that filing claims online or through mobile apps can be done with ease?

For financial institutions, how can transactions be simplified or even gamified?

Most of all, in the event a customer needs to contact customer service or speak to a financial professional, how is this process made as easy as possible for them?

Focus on Customer Benefits Is a Must

What financial services firms miss out on in planning is that a solid CX strategy isn’t just about the internal benefits to the company, like cost-cutting on inbound marketing and upsell potential. All of the suggestions outlined above are moves that purely benefit the customer: it’s not just about you.

Anyone can open a bank account online, take out a mortgage, or buy an insurance policy in minutes with a few clicks or swipes regardless of where that firm is located. Giving a customer a better interest rate on a CD or savings account (the myopia on products) isn’t going to improve their actual experience if they go through an onerous process to manage the account across channels or have a difficult time finding the right support agents in a timely manner in the future.

CX is all about benefiting the customer.

While improving customer retention is one of the end goals, it’s also a form of marketing in and of itself. CX is how companies are going to differentiate themselves in the future.

While location and the competitiveness of the product will factor in with the customer’s decision to use your firm over others, ultimately it’s how easy you make it for the customer to interact and engage digitally that will determine your market viability in the long run. Branches and products are tiny pieces of the puzzle compared to how the customer benefits.

Mark Pendolino

Authored By Mark Pendolino

Mark Pendolino is the Director of Marketing at PTP, overseeing the creation of customer experience content focused on helping organizations discover best practices for evolving the customer journey. Prior to PTP, Mark managed teams for companies such as Microsoft, Smartsheet, Fujitsu, and Parsons Brinckerhoff. Mark holds a master’s in Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington, and a bachelor’s in Technical Communications from Metropolitan State University of Denver. In his downtime, Mark likes to thrash a bit on the drumkit and pretend he’s a rock star.

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