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Understanding the banking customer experience

6 min read
Banks are increasingly investing in their customer experience programs. We look at why this is important, what customers expect, and some developments that are making experience in the banking sector a whole lot more joined up.


Great customer experience (CX) doesn’t just make everyone feel good, it delivers measurable business results. Commerce has known for years that embedding customer focus at every level has a tangible impact on a business’s bottom line: reducing cost to serve; lowering customer acquisition costs; improving retention and leading to a bigger share of wallet.

It’s been a different story with customer experience in the traditional banking industry, which is why this sector is currently undergoing a customer engagement revolution.

Why CX in banking is important

Up until recently, many banks have been inclined to treat customer experience as more of a compliance box-ticking exercise than an effective tool to drive commercial change. With CX programs that do little more than send out surveys after an event, banks have been missing the trick of being able to serve customers effectively in real time and across multiple channels.

Marketplace differentiation is no longer determined by location, price or product, but by customer experience. This is particularly true of banks, as they offer similar products and many consumers perceive little difference between them. The real differentiation comes with the quality of a bank’s customer experience offering – reaching a diverse clientele that includes people who prefer face to face with bank staff, to those who are reluctant to enter a branch and are more interested in a digital experience.

Banking is extremely competitive. If customers feel they cannot do business with a bank on their terms, they’ll move to another that is more accommodating. A bank that offers superior customer service will find:

  • It’s easier to attract new customers
  • Customers who have a good experience with everyday transactions are more likely to progress to bigger ticket products such as mortgages
  • Customers may move all their banking requirements to the one provider they’re happy with
  • Customers are increasingly tech-savvy and appreciate exceptional online experience

Customer expectations

Customers are increasingly the ones in control: they expect an unprecedented level of personal service, online, at an ATM and in branch, and will share experiences (both good and bad) on social media platforms. They expect their banking experience to deliver:

  • Innovative solutions so they can interact whenever, wherever and however they like
  • Immediate resolution of problems
  • Knowledge of who they are, so they don’t have to keep repeating details, via a profile built up over time and sharable across the whole business.
  • Recognition for loyalty; loyal bank customers made 10 positive comments for every negative one
  • Protection from situations that may adversely affect their finances
  • Communication enabled across all their preferred channels and devices
  • Functionality: apps and systems that work well and allow efficient money management
  • Trustworthiness: seeing the bank proactively doing the right things

Customers use multiple channels to choose and buy products. They expect their digital experience to be:

  • Easy
  • Fast
  • Simple
  • Personalised
  • Transparent
  • Secure

It’s how these channels merge to deliver what customers want and need that determines how engaged and loyal they become.

The Banking Customer Experience Report

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The banking customer journey 

To deliver excellent customer experience, it’s important to start with the customer journey. This documents all the experiences a customer has with a bank, from first awareness of it (through an advert perhaps) to an ongoing relationship holding accounts, loans and a mortgage. A customer journey is made up of touchpoints along the relationship:

  • Before: how did they hear about the bank? Adverts, billboards, social media, online reviews or personal recommendation.
  • During: what interactions do they have? Website, app, call centres, branch, bank staff, onboarding experience.
  • After: what did they do after the interactions? Queries, ongoing account management, online support, financial updates, feedback surveys

By mapping every touchpoint in a customer journey and collecting feedback at each, any pain points along the way become clear and can be rapidly rectified. Customer journey data, when mapped alongside other core CX metrics, identifies improvements that have the biggest impact on customers’ experience in the banking industry.

Developments in digital banking CX

The best digital banking technology should feel as if it’s not even there. It should seamlessly serve the customer’s financial needs and sweep them along their journey, online and offline. Customers want a real-time 360 of their financial status at the swipe of a screen, smooth transactions, and immediate help if they need it.

Two major developments are evolving the customer experience in banking – omnichannel and personalisation:

  • Omnichannel: Banks are in a unique position to understand their customers, holding data that tracks their spending, saving and borrowing habits. Customers in turn expect to connect with their bank whenever, wherever and on whatever devices they prefer, and for digital interaction to cross over with face to face interaction in branches. Combined, this information and expectation can deliver effective customer experience management in banking. While some question whether an omnichannel solution can be successfully overlaid on banking’s existing, traditional structure, others, such as Bank of America, are forging ahead with developing omnichannel banking programs.
  • A personalised banking experience: This is the commitment to treating all customers as individuals through each stage of the relationship. Perfected by the big corporations such as Amazon and Apple, personalisation leads to customer engagement, increasing loyalty, trust and retention. A personalised approach provides relevant, needed, focused products and services that are in customers’ best interests, thereby improving the customer experience in banking.

Employee experience is still king

Customers will never love a company unless employees love it first. In banking, as in other commercial businesses, customer experience is only half the story. To deliver the best customer experience, the employee experience needs to be the best it can be, too.

With data analytics, the banking sector can bring employee experience data and customer experience data together to deliver improvements for both – positively impacting customer loyalty, revenue and profitability.

The Banking Customer Experience Report