Financial Services Industry & Customer Experience: A Place For Growth

Our 2015 Dig­i­tal Intel­li­gence Brief­ing (DIB) report with Econ­sul­tan­cy shows that many com­pa­nies are strug­gling to pro­vide a coher­ent and seam­less cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Only a small num­ber of the respon­dents believe that they have reached “matu­ri­ty” in their approach to cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. It is clear that cus­tomer expe­ri­ence mar­ket­ing is the most urgent areas for growth for busi­ness­es in 2016. How­ev­er, some indus­tries have less room for growth, some have more. The finan­cial ser­vice indus­try almost cer­tain­ly belongs to the latter.

It would be hard to ignore the fact that the finan­cial ser­vices indus­try is one of the least trust­ed indus­tries exist­ing today. Accord­ing to the Edelman’s trust barom­e­ter, FSI’s sit at 51% trust, where­as the likes of tech­nol­o­gy and auto­mo­tive indus­tries sit at 74% and 60%, respec­tive­ly. When such a huge deficit in trust exists between finan­cial ser­vice providers and their cus­tomers, it is clear that some­thing with­in this rela­tion­ship needs to change.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, con­sumers have had a lim­it­ed choice when it comes to FSIs – that is, banks, com­mod­i­ty traders, insur­ance com­pa­nies and invest­ment funds. As such, the indus­try was very much a ‘seller’s mar­ket’, and FSI providers had to do lit­tle to excel them­selves because of this lim­it­ed cus­tomer choice.

Finan­cial Ser­vices Indus­try and Innovation

Now – par­tic­u­lar­ly after the 2008 finan­cial crash – every­thing has changed. Cus­tomers are more dis­cern­ing in their choic­es and demand­ing in the ser­vices they require. The ball is in their court, so to speak, and FSI providers who can pre­dict and pro­vide for an increas­ing­ly empow­ered cus­tomer base will tru­ly thrive.

Adapt­ing to new medi­ums is one vital way in which FSI’s can stick with the times. Take Bar­clays as an exam­ple. With their mobile bank­ing app, they’re man­ag­ing to stay tech­no­log­i­cal­ly rel­e­vant with their cus­tomers. Users can quick­ly trans­fer funds, can­cel direct deb­its, or report miss­ing cards from both their smart­phones and, soon, their smart­watch­es. It is these imme­di­ate, obvi­ous ben­e­fits that are vital. The smart­watch mar­ket is still in its infan­cy, with the Apple Watch only a few months old.

Despite many tech skep­tics ques­tion­ing the devices poten­tial, busi­ness­es like Bar­clays are pre­dict­ing demand before it exists. This head-start will help guar­an­tee their posi­tions as mobile bank­ing lead­ers in the future – not if, but when mobile bank­ing comes to dominate.

Iner­tia is a Death Sentence

There are count­less exam­ples of busi­ness­es who have failed to adapt or inno­vate, and by doing so failed, or were at least seri­ous­ly dis­ad­van­taged com­pared to their com­pe­ti­tion. The UK-based super­mar­ket chain Mor­risons is such an exam­ple. Back in the ear­ly 2000s, online shop­ping was not par­tic­u­lar­ly high in demand, sim­i­lar to smart­watch­es and mobile bank­ing today, perhaps.

As rivals adopt­ed online shop­ping ser­vices ear­ly on, Asda in 1999 and Tesco in 2000, Mor­risons all but ignored the bur­geon­ing mar­ket. Today, they’ve found them­selves play­ing a des­per­ate game of catch up, releas­ing their own online shop­ping ser­vice in Jan­u­ary 2014. With 32% of cus­tomers shop­ping online, and a mar­ket crowd­ed with well-estab­lished com­peti­tors, is it a lit­tle too late?

Next Steps for FSI Providers

Customer’s chang­ing needs must not only be iden­ti­fied, but also pre­dict­ed. FSI providers are in a unique posi­tion in this regard. FSI providers have an exten­sive range of data on each of their customer’s details, pref­er­ences and behav­iours across a range of medi­ums. This data can be lever­aged to per­son­alise and opti­mise cus­tomer expe­ri­ences, allow­ing FSI providers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to stay one step ahead of their customer’s needs.

How­ev­er, an impor­tant dis­tinc­tion needs to be made. Cus­tomers aren’t look­ing to be man­aged, or viewed as anoth­er sta­tis­tic to be influ­enced. They now expect busi­ness­es to ful­ly empathise with their expe­ri­ence as empow­ered con­sumers. Speedy, accu­rate ser­vice is now a giv­en. FSI providers must go above and beyond.

It’s vital that they pro­vide mul­ti­ple touch points (social media inter­ac­tion and mobile bank­ing along with tra­di­tion­al means), and ensure that they’re con­stant­ly one step ahead of the game. If a con­sumer wants a well-con­nect­ed, per­son­alised, con­tex­tu­al cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, then brands need to deliv­er it. If that means pro­vid­ing smart­watch-friend­ly bank­ing apps, or oth­er, more inno­v­a­tive, ambi­tious means to ensure they’re stay­ing rel­e­vant to their cus­tomers, so be it.

It’s clear that busi­ness­es face a larg­er prob­lem than lack of inno­va­tion. That is, igno­rance. When 80% of com­pa­nies believed they deliv­ered supe­ri­or ser­vice, but only 8% of their cus­tomers agreed, there exists an obvi­ous dis­con­nect between busi­ness­es and their cus­tomers that proves to be disastrous.

If opti­mis­ing cus­tomer expe­ri­ence were a 12-step pro­gram, admit­tance of the prob­lem would still be the first step. How­ev­er, there is no ‘cushy rehab’ for poor cus­tomer expe­ri­ence providers – only poten­tial insol­ven­cy. Before any progress is to be made, FSI providers must iden­ti­fy that a prob­lem exists – and it like­ly does — with­in the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence process before any progress can be made.

Once this first step has been acknowl­edged, then the next steps to fol­low to cre­ate an opti­mal cus­tomer expe­ri­ence can be cat­e­go­rized as below:

Make: First, iden­ti­fy who your key cus­tomers are and map out the pos­si­ble jour­neys they will make (acqui­si­tion, upgrade, self-ser­vice etc). From here, you can start to cre­ate the rel­e­vant mes­sag­ing frame­work for each poten­tial cus­tomer and their journey.

Man­age: Lever­age the right tech­nolo­gies so that the cre­ative assets you make can be deliv­ered across mul­ti­ple touch points, be it the web, mobile apps, social media, dig­i­tal pub­li­ca­tions, dig­i­tal dis­play or even the iWatch! By imple­ment­ing the right con­tent man­age­ment solu­tion, dig­i­tal asset man­age­ment and dig­i­tal asset deliv­ery solu­tion, you can reduce man­age­ment over­heads by cre­at­ing smart con­tent that can be re-used for dif­fer­ent screens and devices, whilst also ensur­ing future device / touch point capability.

Mea­sure: Next, mar­keters need to under­stand how, where, when and why their dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences are being con­sumed, in order to mea­sure their impact and pro­vide clear under­stand­ing of the ROI from cus­tomer expe­ri­ence ini­tia­tives. Com­pre­hen­sive met­rics pro­vide action­able insights to improve con­tent and opti­miza­tion efforts across channels. Content, assets and cus­tomer jour­neys can be test­ed, tar­get­ed and auto­mat­ed to pro­vide max­i­mum rel­e­vance at all point of the cus­tomer life­cy­cle, while min­i­miz­ing the need for mar­keter intervention.