Providing an excellent customer experience is important for any company, but it’s crucial in the financial services industry. Customers today have access to hundreds of options when deciding who will care for their money, and institutions compete for customers by offering lower fees, higher returns, and new digital services. As banking services become commoditized, how do financial institutions differentiate to keep existing customers while attracting new ones?

Quality of customer experience has emerged as a top driver of choice and on-going retention, and if consumers are unhappy, they will switch providers. In a recent Qualtrics survey of more than 550 banking customers, poor service and poor financial advice emerged as top reasons why people leave their banks and credit unions. While lower fees may help in the short-term, addressing poor customer experience could be much more impactful in the long-term. 69% of customers surveyed listed poor services as the primary reason for leaving, with 56% indicating the bank could have changed their mind if any attempt had been made to salvage the relationship.

It’s clear that there’s an experience gap that financial service providers must fill if they want to remain competitive and impact business results.

Here’s how you can improve the customer experience in banking and financial services industry, and retain and delight your customers.

1.   Collect customer experience data in real-time across all channels and touchpoints

The first step to a great customer experience is understanding what your customers are thinking. By deploying surveys and gathering feedback across all channels, you can generate a customer experience pulse to discover opportunities for improvement.

  • In-branch (office) feedback – Capturing feedback immediately following in-person visits via mobile or email allows you to gauge customer sentiment when the experience is fresh in their minds, allowing them to provide more genuine and actionable feedback.
  • Customer support feedback – Losing a credit card, filing an insurance claim, or missing a mortgage payment can be an emotional experience, so making sure your contact center reps are taking care of customers is critical. A customer’s experience with support can make or break the relationship.
  • Website & mobile feedback – Many customers only interact with their bank or insurance company through a mobile device or computer these days, so providing an easy-to-use and full-service online experience can go miles in ensuring your customers will continue to invest their money with you.
  • Relationship feedback –Relationship surveys allow you to understand what your customers think of your institution, where their needs are not being met, and where there could be opportunities to expand your business with them.

 2.   Identify key business drivers and take action to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty

Customer loyalty is what every organization strives for.  The marketing and sales costs required to replace a lost customer are astronomical compared to implementing feedback experiences that alert you to a customer’s likelihood to leave before it happens. As the adage goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” — your unhappy customers will let you know.

Customers have stayed with their current bank or credit union an average of 13.8 and 15.7 years, respectively. That’s a lot of loyalty equity.

In the same Qualtrics survey, customers said they have stayed with their current bank or credit union an average of 13.8 and 15.7 years, respectively. That’s a lot of loyalty equity, so taking the time to analyze customer feedback to understand the experience you’re delivering can pay dividends for decades. Your company’s policies or services may be the best in the financial services market, but if your customer experience is lacking, you may find yourself losing business to your customer-conscious competitors.

Use NPS, CSAT, or another method to take stock of where your customer experience currently stands, and begin identifying what drives customer satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) for your customers. When you identify the drivers that are important to customers but where expectations are not being met, you will know exactly where to focus your efforts.

3.   Monitor end-to-end customer journeys to create 360o view of every customer

By mapping out your customer journeys, you can identify all touchpoints across all channels where you engage with customers.

A common banking customer journey may include a business professional checking her account balance online, depositing a paycheck in-branch, and verifying the deposited funds on a smartphone. You should have feedback experiences in place at all three touchpoints.

Start by identifying your different customer types; personal bankers, commercial bankers, home buyers looking for a home loan and insurance, etc. Your organization likely has many different “customer personas,” but you can focus on the two to three most prevalent to start. As you build your customer experience program, you can add additional customer journeys.

Next, outline the journey for how each customer type engages with your institution. Begin your journey map with the first point of contact that you have with the customer (checking online account balance in the example above). Continue with each next step and all potential steps until the journey is complete.

In the financial services market, a customer journey (and each step within the journey) could take place over several years, meaning you can and should be measuring your customer experience more than once at each touch point.

A 30-year mortgage gives you plenty of opportunities to assess customer sentiment

Finally, identify at-risk customers and proactively engage on a personal level to improve, and hopefully, salvage the relationship. For companies that don’t have non-binding contracts like banks, insurance companies, and credit unions, attrition rates as high as 25-30% are not uncommon. Even companies with some type of annual contract may experience attrition rates around 5-7%. Minimizing this attrition, or customer churn, should be a key priority for every financial institution.

If financial institutions can learn to identify at-risk customers, proactively engage on a personal level, and identify what is causing the customer’s behavior, companies have a much higher chance of keeping a customer loyal, maybe even for life.

The goal is to use experience management to move from reactive to predictive, and eventually, to a state of delivering exceptional experiences across all touchpoints.

4.   Track and address individual customer feedback with closed-loop functionality

Low NPS scores, social media complaints, or a poor support phone call can alert CX program owners to a negative customer experience. Financial institutions now have the ability to receive automatic notifications via mobile or web if a response suggests negative sentiment, and take action, or close the loop, with the customer. All customer engagements can be tracked and managed in the experience management system to not only make sure each instance is addressed and resolved, but also teach and inform employees for future experiences.

Ultimately, what makes a customer experience program successful is the degree to which it changes behavior in ways that improve customer and financial outcomes

Ultimately, what makes a customer experience program successful is the degree to which it changes behavior in ways that improve customer and financial outcomes. Putting relevant, real-time metrics in the hands of your employees helps make that possible.

5.   Integrate CXM with your existing software platforms (e.g. Salesforce)

Your content management system should seamlessly integrate with your existing platforms to get maximum results. An experience management system should integrate with your existing infrastructure, not replace it.  Qualtrics offers banks and insurance companies the ability to leverage existing systems to send out surveys embedded in other communications. For example, a Salesforce or Marketo email trigger containing a survey can be set up that will be sent to a prospect if a specific threshold is reached, and based on the survey feedback, automatically create a new sales lead.

6.   Integrate customer experience with employee feedback

Connected, engaged employees are critical to delivering customer experience. Organizations need to routinely capture employee feedback to understand the barriers to greater employee engagement and performance. This information must be visible to each stakeholder and the organization in general, so that leadership can be held accountable and take action in ways that empower employees to deliver great customer experiences. This is especially true for front-line employees in banks, credit unions, and insurance companies, who interact with hundreds of customers each day. The Qualtrics Experience Management PlatformTM allows for both customer and employee measurement, analysis, and action.

7.   Be flexible to change, update, and add features to your CX platform at any time

The last dynamic step in building a world-class customer experience program is the ability to adapt to market changes, new trends, and emergent technologies.

In the same way that digital has changed the way people bank and purchase insurance, another channel or service may emerge where you need to compete

By deploying a single, integrated experience management system that gives the bank or insurance agency the ability to expand to address new customer journeys, take advantage of new AI analytics, or gain feedback on a new service, you are well positioned to address anything that the future has to offer and make sure you are offering exceptional experiences to your customers.

Loyalty & trust – it’s all down to the customer experience

Research by Forbes says customers want to feel valued, appreciated, and confident, and 90% of customers who feel valued will advocate for the brand. When your customers have a great experience, you will create loyalty and build a trusting relationship. They’ll freely recommend your products and services to others and they’ll turn to you for new services, providing more value to your business.

To learn more about how you can build or improve your organization’s customer experience program, download the full eBook brought to you by Qualtrics, “Experience leadership in financial services.”

eBook: Experience leadership in financial services

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