Best practices to help build, strengthen and maintain profitable customer relationships.
Today’s consumers expect to interact with their financial institutions in the same ways they interact with other establishments — whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for them. If they don’t find what they need, they often go elsewhere. In light of these expectations, and the increased competition for wallet share, many banks are scrambling to make customer experience a higher priority.
While many banks have placed more emphasis on improving customer service in recent years, that’s not quite the same thing. Improving the customer experience in banking requires financial institutions to shift from a focus on internal benefits, like selling products and cost cutting, to customer benefits — like simplicity, convenience and responsiveness. Customer experience (also known as CX) is built throughout the customer journey and encompasses the customer’s impression of your brand as a result of every interaction.
The Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Experience in Banking
The primary goal of customer service is to help customers resolve specific issues. When done effectively, it can greatly impact a customer’s overall experience with your brand. While customer service and customer experience are different, both are important parts of a strategic financial marketing plan. According to Gartner, customer service is not the totality of customer experience. Rather, the service experience is just one component of the set of elements that comprise the overall customer experience.1
8 Tips to Improve the Customer Experience in the Banking Industry
As consumer buying habits shift, and technology trends enable 24/7 access to products and services, embracing a more customer-centric mindset can differentiate your brand, help you stand out from the competition and strengthen customer relationships. Here are eight strategies to help focus on and enhance the banking customer experience.
1. Empower your employees.
Make it a company-wide initiative to provide every employee with the tools and resources to answer a customer question accurately or find the information quickly. For example, ensure that employees know how (and where) to locate information and provide immediate answers to a customer question.
2. Become a source of valuable, helpful information.
Invest in content marketing to build trust and strengthen relationships by educating customers about relevant topics without directly selling. For example, include content on your website and through other channels (like emails, social media and direct mail) on topics such as “how to build a budget” or “retirement planning steps.” Increase engagement opportunities by creating an easy-to-access digital library with personal finance topics organized by life stage. Create value-added content that helps customers answer a question or solve a problem, such as “tips for buying and selling a house at the same time.”
3. Embrace technology and digital tools.
Replace outdated systems with current technology tools that help deliver more personalized, timely and relevant information. Keeping up with advances in technology can feel overwhelming — not to mention expensive. You can mitigate the stress by focusing on the tech tools that make life easier and more convenient for your customers, such as mobile payments and deposits.
4. Leverage your data to create personalized customer experiences.
Use data to segment your different audiences by life stage, needs, demographics or other factors. Then target the various groups with information that’s most likely to resonate with them. For example, deliver HELOC offers to homeowners with enough equity, or share information about college savings plans with new parents. Be sure to include related value-added content with product or service offers so customers can see how it works. For instance, an article on “home remodel projects that deliver the highest ROI” would be appropriate for the home equity audience segment.
The more you’re able to segment and personalize your customer communications, the more likely customers will feel valued and compelled to respond to your offers. And that will have a direct impact on their overall experience with your brand.
5. Provide consistent information across channels and touchpoints.
Ensure that however customers decide to engage with your brand, whether it’s on their phone or inside your branch, they can find what they’re looking for, and information is consistent and up-to-date. Pay special attention to your website and mobile app, making sure that pages are easy to view and navigate. Consider enhancing the customer experience even more by providing quick access to account information, as well as convenient self-service tools, like the ability to reset a password.
6. Let customers engage with your brand whenever and wherever they prefer.
Consumers want 24/7 access to their accounts from whatever method they choose. Make it easy for them to conduct banking when it’s convenient for them, which might be at night and on weekends when the branch is closed.
In addition, make it easy and convenient for customers to not only access your channels but also tell you what and when they want to hear from you. An online preference center lets customers tell you which types of information they want to receive from you, how often and on which channels. Preference center best practices include offering a list of preferred communications channels for customers to choose from, such as email, postal mail, online and mobile; and frequency, such as weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Include a list of categories to select, such as product updates, bank news and personal finance tips.
Make it easy for customers to find your preference center by including links and calls to action on emails, your website and even printed communications.
7. Include engagement opportunities at every step of the customer journey.
Look for ways to create value for the customer with every interaction, from consideration, to account opening to onboarding and retention. As we mentioned above, data can help you view and manage a customer journey in a proactive way, allowing you to better target customers with products and services they’re most likely to want and need at each step on the path. And don’t underestimate the importance of the personal touch, such as incorporating a series of personalized welcome emails or recognizing a customer on their birthday.
8. Make customer experience part of your overall financial marketing strategy.
According to The Financial Brand, nearly 100 percent of financial institutions consider customer experience a priority, yet less than 40 percent have a formal plan. Stand out from the pack by making customer experience an institution-wide priority by creating a customer experience plan that implements the tactics and strategies above.
A Positive Banking Customer Experience Builds Loyal, Long-Term Relationships
With increased competition comes greater customer choice for banking services and products. Yet research today repeatedly shows that customer experience is poised to overtake price — and even product selection — when it comes to giving your brand a competitive advantage. By focusing on the customer and ensuring that customer experience is equally good regardless of channel or touchpoint, you’ll be on track to stay competitive and build trust and long-term loyalty.
1 “Know the Difference Between Customer Experience and Customer Service,” Jordan Bryan, Gartner, posted Feb. 14, 2018, https://www.gartner.com/en/ensmarterwithgartner/know-difference-customer-experience-customer-service/, accessed Oct. 24, 2018
The increase in competition and evolving customer expectations make creating and implementing a winning customer experience and engagement strategy more important than ever. CCG’s financial marketing experts, analysts and creatives work hand-in-hand to help you build stronger customer experiences that lead to healthier bottom lines.
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