Customer experience will make or break banks and insurers in the future – workplace technology could be the key to staying on the right side of history

Customer experience is fast becoming the most effective way to differentiate your brand and retain customers to help encourage profitable growth.

61% of UK financial services customers say it’s the customer experience that keeps them loyal, according to our recent research

And the answer to achieving the holy grail of a joined-up and consistently satisfying customer journey lies largely with employees – arming them with the tools and processes that will enable them to serve customers in a seamless way at any point in that journey.

Many banks and insurers have already gone some way to meeting these new expectations and are now starting to reap the rewards of such a transformation.

In this post I’m going to explore the importance of getting the customer experience right and the many benefits on offer for firms that do so.

Tackling inconsistency

Creating a seamless customer experience is no easy task for traditional banks and insurers.

It’s hard enough when you’re a start-up with one office, two products and 10 employees.  When you’re a decades-old multinational financial organisation with customers coming into any number of touch points across hundreds of different departments, it’s a monumentally difficult task. Established – sometimes outdated – infrastructure and longstanding company cultures can make transformation seem like an uphill struggle, but it’s one that’s undoubtedly worth making.

If you go into a bank branch on the high street you get a completely different experience to the one you have with the call centre. And if you go online you have a completely different experience again.

I’m not trying to state the obvious here – naturally those are all very individual experiences in themselves. I’m talking about the workflow you go through as an end user.

Let’s say I’m using an app in which I can get to what I want in four or five clicks. But before making that final click I just want to quickly ask something over the phone. So I call up, but the experience I have with the person over the phone jars with the one I’m already having on the app.

Joining those experiences up could potentially make customers’ lives much easier, which will inevitably have a positive impact on their opinion of a particular brand and their desire to bank with that brand in future.

Customers see companies, not channels

Rather than seeing channels as completely independent and separate entities, instead look at them as different ways of accessing the same system. And you need to arm your staff with the tools to access every part of that system and all the data that comes with it is critical.

In 2017 it’s not enough to simply say the app is one thing and the call centre is another. Regardless of which touchpoint a customer uses to interact with your business, their experience should be the same. They don’t care if they’re speaking with X department and it’s actually Y department that holds the information they need. As far as they’re concerned they’ve called NatWest or Barclays or Santander.

So what tools or processes are we talking about here?

A lot of it comes down to cleaning up the way data is stored and shared around the business. If your employees are working across multiple different systems depending on where they sit within the company, naturally they’re going to struggle not to pass that disjointed experience on to the customer.

We all know the challenges involved in achieving an accurate and accessible single customer view, and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers.

But reducing the number of different systems employees work with consolidating some of the important customer data in a place accessible to all staff is a good start.

It’s also about communication. You’ve got a fantastic new feature on your app? Great. But make sure all areas of the business are aware of it and able to access the necessary information surrounding it, because you can’t guarantee which touch point the customer will come in from.

Not just a fancy marketing phrase

The phrase ‘customer experience’ has been in danger of moving into buzzword territory for some time now. But don’t let this fool you into underestimating its importance.

74% of financial services consumers already use online banking regularly, according to our recent research. And 61% plan to use mobile banking more over the next five years while 57% plan to use walk-in branches less.

Joining up all those online and offline touch points in a way that feels seamless for the customer is only going to become more important.

And the biggest benefit of doing so?

Those firms that can get it right on customer experience in the coming years will have a much better chance of retaining their customers and ultimately being more profitable.

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