Today’s tech-savvy consumers compare their banking experiences to interactions with the most disruptive companies, including consumer tech giants like Google, streaming services like Netflix, and global online retailers like Amazon. In fact, a survey by Forrester Research of more than 110,000 consumers found that good customer service is the most highly valued attribute at banks. Yet, only 37% of financial organizations have a formal customer experience (CX) plan in place according to research from the Digital Banking Report.
Newer financial services entrants, many online and mobile-only, have embraced the disruptive customer ethos consumers are hungry for, promising faster and deeper digital engagement than you can get from a “typical bank.” But where does that leave the 60%+ of more traditional institutions like branches who struggle with CX, yet are looking to compete?
Branches that want to retain and attract members – especially in today’s challenging market – must find ways to keep pace with increasing consumer expectations by providing digital experiences that join online, mobile, and branch interactions. For this to be successful, institutions should focus on four key areas.
#1 Ensure legacy systems aren’t a roadblock to modernization
Branches need a cohesive digital strategy that merges both new and legacy systems across the institution.Forrester Research states: “As organizations undertake digital transformation efforts, an important realization emerges process matters. Investments in beautifully designed web and mobile experiences won’t move the needle unless application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals ensure that the processes on the back-end align to support a true end-to-end customer experience.”
The rigidity of legacy systems can make this alignment difficult, so many financial institutions are turning to digital and robotic process automation tools to bridge the gap between new and old. This process automation can effectively “wrap” legacy environments, shuttling information in and out as part of an end-to-end process that allows legacy to still be part of any digital transformation. By making automation the forefront of their digital strategy, branches will quickly begin to see the impact on the customer experience in areas such as onboarding, communication, and personalization.
#2 Start the relationship out right with competitive onboarding processes
Starting on the right foot sets the tone for all future interactions, making exemplary onboarding a crucial focus. Onboarding is particularly important in the financial services industry, as it might be one of the few opportunities for meaningful customer interactions unless a problem arises. Yet only 55% of banks and credit unions have a “structured” onboarding process. And few financial organizations allow new accounts to be opened entirely online or on a mobile device, instead requiring new members to provide branch-based ID verification and/or signatures. Those that do allow it stand out.
Effective onboarding requires complex orchestration between systems and data; and staff and customers. Automation can help financial institutions better handle and protect sensitive customer data (especially since financial services is a complex and highly regulated area). It can also help them learn from lost customers by identifying similarities in the data and identifying abandonment points.
While automation can be key, here are some onboarding tips that branches can start implementing today for better customer experiences:
· Implement a progress bar. This will show customers how many more steps of the onboarding process they have until completion and help reduce abandonment rates.
· Use video. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. If there’s a complicated element of a product or service, try presenting it in video format instead.
· Only ask for essentials. Don’t ask for unnecessary information. If it doesn’t deliver value, then there is no point. Until the onboarding process is complete, every step is a chance for abandonment.
#3 Connect disjointed customer data for faster, smoother communications
Branches also need to enhance the customer journey so that every touchpoint delivers a valuable interaction. Consistently delivering the same high service day in day out can lead to drastic improvements to net promoter scores – and revenues. The overall objective should be turning customers into a community of loyal fans who recommend their branch to friends and family.
Yet disjointed systems can be one of the quickest ways to alienate customers, and financial institutions often struggle with the data analytics and technology needed for a complete customer view, according to The Financial Brand.
Two factors tend to contribute to disjointed systems. The first we’ve already discussed: complex IT infrastructure comprised of inflexible legacy systems. The second issue is siloed data (and systems) across departments.
In both instances, automation speeds the flow of information, allowing branches to streamline customer engagement processes for enhanced service, holistic visibility and quicker response. For example, by integrating back-office systems, financial advisors can have a complete view of the customer, enabling them to provide fast advice and consistent service (even via email or SMS) across a wide-range of offerings, such as funds withdrawal, loan application, claims initiation, and more. This holistic view not only improves customer service, it also helps in areas of fraud detection as well as regulatory compliance and reporting.
#4 Create highly personalized experiences
It isn’t enough to just deliver speedier responses across more channels; customers now also expect highly personalized experiences. This means providing contextual multi-touch services on both mobile and desktop. This is only achievable with access to critical customer insights and data analytics, and again one of the quickest paths to that process insight is through automation. Branches can then use this information to offer more relevant products and services to customers for improved retention, and revenues from cross-sales and leads.
For example, in the onboarding process this might mean capturing vital information to build a picture of the customer’s unique concerns and interests, allowing the organization to better tailor and optimize the rest of the customer journey. For example, branches can keep customers by strategically offering highly relevant promotions in the lead up to renewal time to reduce churn rates. According to SaaS Capital, a mere 1% difference in churn can have a 12% impact on company valuation in 5 years.
And in loan origination, branches can speed the approval process by linking disparate systems to provide staff with contextualized customer information, providing customers with faster answers and ensuring employees spend less time manually cross-checking repetitive data.
Branches find themselves at a crossroads: their entire reason for being is member service, but newer, heavily funded digital-first competitors are winning the customer experience battle. As it turns out, many of the stumbling points center around process-related challenges. Automation is well suited to solving these process issues by connecting disjointed systems, bridging legacy and digital, and speeding the unified flow of information. With the proper process automation, organizations quickly become more efficient, employees can better spend time engaging with customers, and consumers can turn to their local branch to get the disruptive customer experience they seek.
Laurie Ehrbar is a customer-centric, results driven leader that brings over two decades of experience in highly competitive industries. Before joining Bizagi, Laurie built, launched and managed the go-to-market for financial services at ServiceNow and led the global incubation efforts across all verticals. Prior to ServiceNow, she held marketing leadership positions at large corporations like Salomon Smith Barney, Citigroup and TD Waterhouse and counseled countless start-ups on their best path to market.