In the banking and financial domain, customer experience (CX) entails a customer’s collective experience interacting with multiple touchpoints, be it traditional in-person interactions and digital formats, including online banking systems, emails, call centers, digital advertising, and social media. A survey from Gartner states that 81% of companies compete primarily or entirely based on CX, making it a critical competitive differentiator for financial institutions.
Being one of the most aggressive adopters of digital transformation, the challenge faced by this industry is redesigning the digital processes to deliver an enviable customer experience that is human-friendly and easily adaptable. There is a pressing need to be more customer-centric by adapting to the customers’ journey and aligning the business with it. Such contextualization of services and solutions can significantly reduce efforts and optimize resources. While most traditional financial service providers (FSPs) have been adept in infusing digital services and solutions, a few aspects warrant greater focus.
- Mobile-first interaction – Digital banks are overtaking traditional brick-and-mortar banks as customers prefer an anywhere virtual experience through their mobile smart devices. Mobile-first relationships will be the norm as we increase technology adoption and further nurture a digital culture. Financial service providers (FSPs) need to adopt a design approach aligned to the customer journey and deliver a mobile-first experience consistent with the various phases of their journey. Bank PKO, Discover Financial Services, Chase, Capital One, and Bank of America are some of the best mobile apps known for their superior customer experience and mobile-first approach.
- Omnichannel experience – Although mobile-first/digital-first has become the preferred mode of operation in the global banking and finance domain, a consumer utilizes multiple touch points, including physical branches. Touchpoints functioning in silos are deterrents to successful customer experiences, as they could deliver services without a holistic view of the customer’s journey, making it cumbersome. FSPs should have a nuanced understanding of their customers and provide hyper-personalized experiences. A deeper focus on interactions is essential, as consumers take greater control and interest in their finances while leveraging technology. Integrating data from across the channels and having a 360-degree view of the customer journey makes it possible to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience with dexterity.
- Simple and humanized – While digitizing the banking experience to deliver the best customer experience, FSPs must ensure simplicity in their processes and platforms. A highly complicated and cryptic digital platform may drive away customers, especially senior citizens. Digital experiences must be inclusive and easy to use across generations, not appealing to just Gen Z or millennials. Even though most customers prefer digital for their simple day-to-day transactions, many still prefer human advice and interaction for those big-ticket financial decisions and resolving any glitches or inconveniences. An emotional connection laced with empathy can also ensure stickiness while helping forge stronger relationships with customers.
- Intuitive AI-driven interactions – In a banking era that is more client-centric, a financial institution’s success hinges on exceeding the customer expectations that are often implicit. AI is now widely leveraged to design intelligent virtual assistants and robo-advice, capable of engaging more smartly with customers. They have become ubiquitous, changing the gamut of the banking and financial experience. Eno, Capital One’s digital assistant, utilizes NLP to address customer queries. It can proactively highlight abnormal spending or fraudulent activities, thus helping the customer to manage finance better. NOMI from the Royal Bank of Canada uses AI to analyze a customer’s spending habits and recommend a calculated budget for daily spending. Such intuitive AI-driven support can scale customer interactions and provide a superior experience across the length and breadth of their financial journey.
- Agility – In a dynamic, tech-aggressive business playfield, where digital has become an integral way of life, and the entry barriers are also easy to navigate, customer acquisition and retention costs are bound to be high. FSPs would have to be agile and reduce the time-to-market of their digital products. Flexibility and promptness should be de facto, with the ability to improvise and constantly upgrade, basis customer experience and feedback. Amazon is said to make deployments every 11.6 seconds. This speed and agility have been helping Amazon deliver a world-class customer experience and score high on its CX.
- Compliance – A digital culture with increased omnichannel experience results in petabytes of sensitive customer information residing with the FSPs. Increased utilization of customer data for deeper insights to deliver enhanced customer experience warrants compliance with several regional and global laws, including other regulations. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are some prominent ones. Such compliance should blanket the multiple touchpoints through which customers interact and furnish information. FSPs must ensure timely compliance with these constantly evolving regulations and laws to ensure that non-compliance or security reasons do not impact customer interactions.
Customer-centricity is at the focal point in the banking and financial sector. FSPs need to focus on the customer journey and rethink processes rather than merely negate the inefficiencies. A state-of-the-art digital product with the best functionalities alone can no longer be the USP providing the competitive advantage. Instead, delivering the best CX across touchpoints will drive the banking and finance industry champions. FSPs must provide contextualized customer experiences that completely blur the lines between digital and analog while alleviating the overall banking and financial process.
(The author is Mr. V. Mahadevan, Director, Strategic Relationship, Maveric Systems and the views expressed in this article are his own)