According to a 2014 Global Consumer Banking Survey conducted by Ernst & Young, customer experience was identified as the key ingredient for winning, growing and retaining customers in an increasingly competitive banking environment.  Those findings come as no surprise, especially in a commoditize world of retail banking but before we discuss what drives a quality experience, we first must define it.

Marketers have been grappling with the definition of customer experience for quite a while. Sometimes it’s defined as digital experiences and interactions, such as on a website or a smartphone. In other cases, customer experience is focused on retail or customer service, or the speed at which problems are solved. In today’s omni-channel retail world, I believe it is the seamless end-to-end interaction of each customer touchpoint – the integration of those interactions in a centralized database and the ability to deliver a personalized client experience based on client preferences.

To be really successful in the long-term, banks will need to create a cohesive, simple and personalized customer experience.  If achieved it will be the competitive differentiator helping to drive growth, loyalty and ultimately, separate them from the pack.

Three Pillars of Customer Experience

  1. Customer Journey: If your goal is to deliver the best customer experience possible than you should become a customer yourself. Having a thorough understanding of a customer’s journey (e.g. how accounts are opened, how money is transferred, how issues are resolved, etc.) is the most logical starting point.  Interacting with the products and services first hand will provide valuable insights that no research survey could possibly deliver.  Walking the same steps as your customers do will put you in a position to analyze, question, appreciate their pain points which will all lead to improvements in the overall experience.
  2. Touchpoints: Next we’ll need to evaluate how you are interacting with your customers across the various channels – branch, web sites, call centers, mobile etc. What are those experiences like and are they consistent across all channels?  What types of messages are you sending your customers, how many, how often, do they acknowledge the customers current relationship and equally as important, does your messaging strategy support the brand promise and meet customer expectations across those channels?
  3. Technology platforms: Due to advances in technology and changes in the retail sector, banks will need to respond to the e-commerce boom by developing innovative digital and technological solutions.  The “Buy Anywhere, Fulfill Anywhere” approach allows consumers to purchase items using the more convenient and preferred channel.  It also makes the experience more personalized.   In this marketplace, customers use multiple channels simultaneously and those experiences are curated for the customer and by the customer.   For example, a customer can make a deposit on their tablet, receive an alert on their smartphone all while driving to the bank to discuss a loan.  Is your technology platform integrated to capture and acknowledge these behaviors?

Conclusion

In the end, the banks who truly embrace the “customer-centric” philosophy and truly understand their customers’ preferences and behaviors are the banks we will want to bank with today and in the future.

If you have any customer experience stories or comments you would like to share about companies who delivering rewarding customer experiences, please pass them along.  We love to share.

 

Steve Facini, is the CMO of the financial services, automotive and media practice areas at ondemandCMO.  You can reach him at steve@ondemandcmo.com

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