Welcome to your world
We explore the world of the financial services’ customer to ensure a sustainable, quality relationship that can adapt to shifting expectations.
This article was first published in Australian Banking & Finance
As financial institutions adapt to shifting customer demands across digital and social channels, it can be easy to short change our customers on some of the most basic service principles. Principles such as knowing your customers, knowing what they want and enabling your people to know how to provide that to them.
If you can meet your customers where they are – the channel becomes almost irrelevant. At the same time, channel optimisation is central to bringing down the cost-to-serve, so good multi-channel design is not just about making it easy to transact in your customers’ preferred channel, it is also about making your preferred channels as attractive and effective as possible.
Self-service channels, especially online, should be the base around which all channels (and products) dovetail. As online or digital services are now central to the customer’s desired experience, especially for high end segments, they should be designed to reflect this.
Research suggests that one in five dissatisfied customers highlight bad communication as the reason for their dissatisfaction. A significant proportion of financial correspondence remains paper based and inefficient, and at the same time proactive communications are also sent by multiple channels to customers that often confuse rather than provide clarity.
In order to execute a multi-channel strategy that meets your customer where they are, three key components are required:
- Knowing the customer
- Making it easy for them
- Enabling your team to deliver.
Know who you are doing business with
Customers have a habit of doing the unexpected, making random requests that don’t fit the planned process. They also have an increasing expectation that you will recognise them, remember their information and the experience they are having across channels, products and time. Rightly, they live in blissful ignorance of the gaps between divisions and geographies in your business. They simply expect you will seamlessly use the information you have to serve them.
Ticket to play
In this way, historical data on what they’ve done and told you before is a basic ‘ticket to play’. Great multichannel customer experiences are built on delivering insights that let your front-line people adapt to the customer’s needs and have the ‘next best conversation’.
Today, the trademark of your systems, processes and people must be their ability to deliver the insights and options that enable better customer service. For example, real-time decision technology considers the context of the interaction, the customer’s segment, their journey and the reason for the interaction. Understanding customer journeys, and moments that matter to customers, will enable interactions to be prioritised by a customer need, rather than a product target. By prioritising interventions which add value to the customer and connecting with them in line with their preferences, the rate and value of sales conversions significantly increase.
Make it easy for them
Customers increasingly expect to be able to interact with financial institutions whenever and wherever they want. They want simplicity. This is largely driven by the evolving norm of mobility. This can be either a bane or boon for cost-to-serve, depending on the quality of your service delivery experience in your preferred channels.
Customers want to act in a way that makes sense to them. If a process makes sense, then customers will use it. If that means they need to migrate to a different channel then they will. Rebellion comes when customers feel they are being forced to change their behaviours to fit what they see as complex and unintuitive processes.
This has two clear implications for the design of your service delivery experience. First, make sure your preferred channels deliver an exceptional customer experience and outcome. A low cost channel often demands the most focused design and maintenance. Second, monitor and measure trends in customer adoption, drop-out and satisfaction rates across your channels with laser focus. Even the best designs will be subject to shifting customer needs.
You cannot assume your process works for all your customers. But with a finger on the pulse of changing customer patterns, you can identify when customers are dropping out, and find a just-in-time opportunity to find out why and fix it.
Enabling consistently great experiences
Too often multi-channel discourse focuses on channel technologies and forgets the component that many customers still value most – your people who are at the point of interaction.
To deliver a seamless multi-channel experience, your frontline teams need absolute clarity on your service proposition across all channels, together with the skills and information to deliver on it.
This begins with designing for brand consistency across channels. The same customer who receives your polished, high service branch experience may have been directed there by ‘Julz’ on your social channel, who said you would “totes sort it”. This channel dissonance does little to instil customer confidence in your internal connectivity. Increasingly, personas are used to help create a clear picture of the customers you are dealing with. These can be used to equal effect internally, to make sure there are no inconsistencies in the service proposition your customer experiences.
Paired with simple policies on preferred tone, response metrics and message ownership (i.e. should marketing or the contact centre respond), the personas provide your staff with a clear view of how to deliver a consistent experience.
This platform of consistent experiences, delivered to customers wherever they are, by frontline staff armed with the insights, guidelines and training on how to have the next best conversation, will increase customer satisfaction and sales opportunities seamlessly across your channels.