Ease and Effectiveness in Banking: What Matters Most to Customers?

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There are Three E’s that you might read about in business literature related to Customer Experience: Effectiveness, Easiness, and Emotion. The best brands in any industry do all three E’s exceptionally, but for Banks, I want to think about the intersection of two of those – Easy Street and Effectiveness Avenue.

In general, all customers want the same things from a bank: security, good value, competitive products and good experiences. But what is a good experience? There is a great deal of research available that defines a good experience as one that is easy. And if it’s not easy, the effectiveness of the experience plummets.

Compare the experiences of using a hand saw and a chainsaw. They’re both effective at cutting down trees, but one is much easier to use, and the other likely leaves your hands covered in blisters. Which experience did you prefer? Which tool are you most likely to choose the next time?

Easy is the new frontier in customer experience in most industries, and Banking is no exception. Bankers know how busy people are and how little effort people want to put into their banking (spoiler alert: it’s basically ZERO time). I recently asked more than a dozen financial service CX professionals why they were investing in the customer experience. More often than not, they said, “we want to make things easier for our customers.”

Five years ago, if someone asked that same question they’d get an answer that was heartfelt, but vague. Bankers’ responses were a mishmash of needing ‘more surveys’ and ‘more data’ to ‘make things better.’ In retrospect, I don’t think most knew what ‘better’ meant, other than achieving higher scores.

Data is the backbone of any sustainable effort to make your customers’ lives easier, but data for the sake of data won’t make any customer’s interactions with you any better. More importantly, it won’t make them any easier. If your survey programs aren’t revealing the level of effort customers expend to get things ‘done’ – and in the end, how easy it was to get that task ‘done’ – then all of the ‘making things better’ sentiment in the world won’t help.

To start thinking about effort and ease meaningfully, ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • How do your customers define Easy? How do they define Effectiveness? Now compare that to how ‘The Bank’ defines those words. Are they even in the same dictionary as your customer’s definitions? A bank can’t consider itself a customer-centric organization unless it first walks the customer’s journey and understands experiences through the customer’s lens.
  • Do you know and track the internal failure rates of the most frequently encountered processes and touchpoints in the customer journey? Internal quality control processes are critically important to perfecting the external customer experience. If those processes fail, the result is an experience that is not easy or effective.
  • Are you asking your associates for feedback? The boots on the ground often already know what processes are the most painful for customers. Sometimes, they have already put into place some creative solutions that you could deploy at scale to reduce effort and make your brand more effective.
  • Are you taking your customer data and insights from your surveys and tying them back to a compelling revenue story? An improved CX should impact the ROI associated with cost to serve, increased attrition, declining future sales, and so on. But, CX initiatives often lose funding when the connection to business results is unclear.

Institutionally, bankers often confuse being easy as the same thing as being effective. Writing a check to pay your bills might be effective, but a millennial digital client would likely not consider it easy. So, ask yourself: is my current CX program making it easier to get things done for my customers? Is it helping my brand to be more effective at what we do? If the answer is ‘no,’ your CX program is failing on two of the three E’s … and that is bound to stir up some of the third E: Emotion.

Image source: Getty Images