Brands in the financial services industry are all-in on digital transformation. 60% of consumers want to transact with financial services brands using a single platform such as a mobile application, according to Ernst & Young, and the industry has responded.
In just the past few years, financial services shifted away from in-person interactions and toward a digital-first model. Customers are able to access accounts, applications, and advisors online without needing to go to a local branch or office. Everything comes together digitally to make for a seamless financial services customer experience.
Not only has this created an enhanced level of convenience, but financial services have also become more accessible to communities that were previously underserved by financial institutions. It’s a democratization of financial services only made possible by disruption within an industry that has often resisted change throughout its 200-year history.
Yet the much-needed digitization of this industry isn’t anywhere close to complete, and redefining the financial services customer experience is the next frontier. Customer experience (CX), after all, sets leading brands apart and drives customer satisfaction (CSAT) as well as other key metrics.
Redefining the Financial Services Customer Experience
CX is a top priority for brands across the financial services industry. In a 2021 survey conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 64% of financial services brands said that improving CX is a top-five business priority for the year ahead.
Whether in banking, insurance, or wealth management, financial services brands of all types and sizes are turning to CX as a way to get out ahead of the competition and interact with customers digitally to build long-term brand relationships.
Financial services brands with a plan to prioritize CX earn significant business outcomes: for example, research firm Kantar found that U.S. retail banks are able to grow their share of deposits by as much as 16.5% by improving key elements of financial services customer experience.
Additionally, an investment in CX as a financial services brand leads to higher share of wallet and a greater opportunity to sell other products and services to the same customers. So, while delivering outstanding CX to both new and existing customers, financial services brands boost revenue and strengthen their bottom line. It’s just a matter of understanding how to redefine the financial services customer experience the right way.
Make Proactive CX Part of the Customer Journey
Customers may not know where to start or where they’re going, so it’s on the brand to educate and empower. Financial services brands can — and do — provide a variety of resources, but CX should be proactive.
It shouldn’t fall on the customer to only reach out to a customer service team if there’s an issue. Instead, customer service needs to remain proactive in the customer journey so that the customer feels confident and secure in what they’re doing. Surface the ability for a customer to speak with an agent at any time, from pre-signup to account management.
96% of customers say customer service is important in determining loyalty to a brand. If customer service is either nonexistent or only reactive, a financial services brand can’t expect to ever achieve brand loyalty that attracts and retains customers. Customers will feel frustrated and turn to competing brands. As less than 5% of Americans switch banks annually, losing a customer means a brand in the financial services industry may never get another opportunity to win them back.
Service recovery can help, though. No matter how proactive CX is or the amount of coaching offered to agents, a customer could start deciding to take their money elsewhere. Financial services brands use service recovery to make things right with customers when an experience falls short of expectations, and it also assists in converting new customers into trusting the brand.
Don’t Forget Humanization, Even with Self-Service Technology
Humanization should always live within any CX strategy. While financial services brands digitize and automate operations, CX still needs to feel natural.
Self-service solutions such as an online chatbot or resource center suffice for a handful of interaction types, but ultimately brands need a knowledgeable customer service team to tailor interactions for the needs of each and every customer. That’s why top-tier financial services brands aim to create a more humanized CX.
In the financial services industry, brands were originally known for slow, time-consuming processes that required in-person interactions to get anything done. Financial services today, however, look much different. Now anyone is able to open a bank account or get a mortgage in just a few taps or clicks.
But, even though it’s easy, customers shouldn’t be left on their own all the time. Even from the other side of a screen, a customer service team can still deliver a financial services customer experience that makes a huge difference.
Personalize interactions and lead with empathy, as Stella Connect by Medallia’s Justin Cruz suggested during Freshworks’ What Customers Want: BFSI & Fintech Edition discussion. In discussing the future of CX for the financial services industry, the entire panel agreed that brands can’t forget the importance of humanization to provide empathy to customers.
“Not having that humanized interaction can definitely make [a customer] feel like they’re a little bit further from the brand.”
– Justin Cruz, Director of Customer Success at Stella Connect by Medallia
Often we focus on the convenience afforded by digitization and automation, but customers are humans who don’t want to feel isolated when dealing with their finances or documents such as a mortgage application or insurance claim. So it’s about time that financial services brands understand their customers are more than an account number or support ticket.
With a human touch, customers feel comfortable and more connected to a brand offering a personalized experience.
Customers will always need assistance, and successful financial services brands know they can’t foster a meaningful customer-brand relationship using self-service technology alone. In fact, customers don’t actually prefer self-service technology — phone (43%), email (28%), and chat (23%) are the most likely ways customers communicate when an issue arises.
Gather Customer Feedback & Let Data Drive Decision-Making
Financial services brands are continuing to humanize CX after an interaction, too. Real-time feedback allows customers to share if an interaction satisfied their needs, but this is more than just a survey with a few questions.
Carefully-designed surveys display an agent’s profile so the customer recalls who they interacted with and what they’re interested in outside of work. Perhaps it seems like a minor touch, but adding a touch of personality to surveys drives response rates.
In addition, surveys used by top brands in the financial services industry also include the ability for customers to reward and recognize agents. Incentives and rewards motivate agents, but customers enjoy being involved. Nearly 90% of consumers are more likely to leave feedback regarding a positive interaction if they knew the agent would directly benefit from it, according to our Customer Service Trends for 2021 research report.
So, what does a brand do with all of this data? Financial services brands analyze data to understand customer feedback and agent performance, which reveals trends and a pathway to delivering better value to customers.
Finding the Right Tools to Reinvent the Financial Services Customer Experience
Competing in the financial services industry, brands need to differentiate among competitors flush with historic name recognition and an abundance of resources. CX levels the playing field as a key differentiator for any brand to leverage.
Stella Connect is a unified CX solution for financial services brands aiming to get visibility into actionable insights, motivate customer service teams, and save time through operational efficiencies.
Earnin, which enables customers to access their pay as they earn it, started using Stella Connect as part of an effort to humanize CX and deepen connections with customers. Now, this fast-growing startup captures real-time, agent-level feedback to understand interactions and improve CX for the future.
Schedule a demo today to meet with a Stella Connect expert and learn more about our platform.