Consumers continue to push for improved digital delivery from their financial services providers. These organizations are more than willing to make accommodations given the lower cost-to-serve and opportunity to deliver a better customer experience. Yet add in the slower, global economic growth expected over the next year, and a new scenario emerges where differentiation has never been more difficult or important to achieve since before the pandemic started.
We’ve even seen government organizations like the IRS recently launch their own experience office. “The IRS is committed to customer experiences that meet taxpayers where they are, in the moments that matter most in people’s lives and in a way that delivers the service that the public expects and deserves,” said Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer Ken Corbin in a recent news announcement.
All signs point to this trend continuing, and if they haven’t already, private companies need to follow suit. The time is now for financial services organizations to further increase their focus on customer experience, which starts with more modern technologies but must also include building devoted, skilled and empowered teams to focus on elevating experience across the enterprise.
Leverage the contact center
From a capabilities perspective, continued enhancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are playing an outsized role in customer experience every day. Within the contact center specifically, calls can be transcribed from voice to text and analyze what the customers and agents are saying, including the sentiment of each conversation. This creates real-time coaching opportunities for agents and offers teams with the ability to acknowledge strong performance. Many platforms also offer real-time analytics and coaching for agents, which can track the agent’s rate of speech or advise on avoiding certain trigger words that could lead to a bad experience.
Moreover, sentiment and text analytics coupled with other signals such as operational, financial, and behavioral data, can create a very rich picture of the customer experience at both the individual and enterprise levels. The advancements in this space have been significant in the past 2-3 years, and financial services companies should be investing here now to understand not only what their customers are saying, but also how they’re saying it and what the impact is to the business.
Another area where advanced technology is playing a role is in call center quality management (QM). In the past, several individuals would have to review a sample of one to two percent of all calls made by customers to ensure agent performance across multiple attributes. With the advent of today’s new technological capabilities, call centers can review 100% of the calls and repurpose QM specialists into other areas that drive more value-add for the business.
Engage across channels and mediums
Another capability that customers are now accustomed to is the use of video conferencing, minimizing the need for physical branch visits. As consumers move away from more populated areas where they could quickly access a branch and branch footprints decline, video is a must-have for bankers. Whether it is in-app or via an online platform, video ensures continuous engagement with customers regardless of physical location.
Additionally, technology exists that allows customers to engage with their financial services provider across multiple channels. Customers may want to start with online chats but may quickly move to a call, video or screen share for support. These transfers can now happen seamlessly via the web or in-app. Providing these channels for customers to engage on their terms is increasingly important.
Finally, companies can now alter a customer’s digital experience in real time and in context. In customer experience parlance, this is called journey orchestration and real-time journey intervention. This allows financial services companies to either keep customers in a journey to drive a business outcome, or get them back into one if they’ve exited – all without the customer realizing it. For example, a customer might be in the market for a new mortgage, but doesn’t like the rate on the bank’s website and leaves the page to look at other products. Based on the customer’s navigation and interests, journey orchestration technology can offer a new rate when the customer lands on the page again, or deliver a new rate via email. The rate can be based on successful loan originations and rates from other customers with a similar profile.
The added benefit of journey analytics and orchestration is that it allows financial services organizations to understand what customers are doing horizontally across the business, versus in just one part of the organization or within a product (e.g., mortgage or card business). Why is this important? For starters, the experience should feel like one bank, no matter the product or line of business the customer is engaging. Secondly, customers can have multiple accounts and products, ranging from savings, mortgage, card and investments. By only understanding the experience within the business line and not how interactions play across the organization, financial services companies are missing massive opportunities to drive greater growth and efficiency.
Dedicate CX teams and leaders
Many organizations, including those in financial services, are starting to organize their customer experience efforts under a Chief Experience Officer. This person is leading teams that were traditionally dispersed across the lines of business, such as Insights, Analytics, Transformation, Customer Operations or Contact Centers, Design, Digital and Change Management.
Bringing teams together allows for greater horizontal understanding of the customer, improved accountability around experience delivery and increased influence on the importance of the customer experience – a message that should resonate from the mailroom to the boardroom.
As the technology and capabilities become more advanced, financial services will also need to re-think who they’re hiring for the customer experience team. Skills in data architecture, data science and modeling, design thinking and change management will become increasingly important over the next few years. Leaders should be planning now to hire for these new skills so they can take advantage of new capabilities as they become more accessible.
As we move more quickly into a new digital paradigm with a market environment that is increasingly less stable, financial services companies can’t focus solely on the technology being delivered anymore. These businesses need to focus on the people managing these new capabilities too, as balancing technology and investments in customer experience is a calculus taking on new meaning within financial services.