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The value of the digital customer experience in financial services

by wrich

By Alex Thomson, Vice President of EMEA at Quantum Metric 

Alex Thomson, Vice President of EMEA at Quantum Metric

The adoption of digital financial services continues to accelerate, driving banks and financial service providers to enhance their customer experience programmes globally. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, smart analytics and digital verification solutions offer a great opportunity for banks to improve customer service, but it’s important to stay on top of what is and isn’t working when refining a digital banking experience for customers. 

Aside from supporting new levels of efficiency, the digital experience creates an opportunity for banks to offer enhanced value to the customer. In an evolving market, where a customer can decide to bank elsewhere more easily than ever before, this is extremely relevant. To meet consumer demands and match today’s pace of innovation, financial leaders must look to digital experience as a priority, to remain competitive. 

If financial institutions plan to keep up with – or better yet, outperform – the competition, they need to more closely examine their digital customer experience and review its impact on business growth. Understandably other priorities may arise, especially around changing regulations or business operations, but by quantifying the importance of a good digital customer experience, digital leaders can improve buy-in across the organisation. 

What it takes to be customer-centric 

Delivering a high-quality online customer experience was complex enough before the pandemic, but the additional virtual footfall has only piled on the pressure. Furthermore, a whole new level of competition from challenger banks means financial service providers must impress quickly or risk losing customers. 

A recent survey of 250 banking and financial service companies found that three quarters (74%) of banks and finance firms intend to improve customers’ digital experience by upgrading their website or app. Meanwhile, 63% plan to automate customer interactions through chatbots and robo-advisors. However, only 48% are confident that they have the right approach to adopting new technology to ensure they can adapt quickly to changing customer demands over the coming year. 

Seeking to match or best the experience happening in a branch, banks first need to understand that what customers want online is different. If a customer starts a loan application online and is then required to call or visit a branch, they could abandon the application altogether. It’s important banks offer digital options that reflect how their customers interact with businesses today. Reviewing real-time customer insights to identify blockers in the digital experience reduces this type of customer frustration, especially on mobile devices. 

Adopting an agile, iterative approach to product development is essential across the sector. Ultimately, in an age where customer attention spans last seconds, brand engagement is key. Attention is the new currency and the ability to be agile is the killer advantage financial service providers can implement to keep up with evolving trends, gain the attention of demanding customers. It may also seem contrary, but such an approach actually mitigates risk traditionally associated with new functionality. Small changes made regularly are less likely to break systems

than large sweeping innovations. They can also be rolled back quickly and painlessly if they do happen to cause issues, whilst also pointing to constant improvement rather than a ‘let’s wait for our next big release’ approach. 

Building Innovation 

Many banks are also looking for more ways to innovate without putting their digital experience at risk. It’s important to strike the balance between offering innovative services, and remaining the same trusted provider customers have used for years. New services can be enticing, but they can also create uncertainty, impacting customer trust and loyalty as a result. This is where data comes in. Financial services need predictive and real-time data that show them how new changes and innovations might impact their relationships with customers. 

To balance customer-centricity and digital innovation it’s also critical to stay connected and aligned across teams and departments and this provides a holistic understanding of customer needs and how they are changing. Quantifying insights and building daily goals helps teams to evolve, but stay true to their brand. 

Amazing customer experience is about so much more than simply answering the phone quickly. By having technical steps in place that recognise a customer in need, businesses can turn frustration into a quality proactive touchpoint. Take away the pain and irritation and turn it into an unexpected and delightful customer experience. This way, customer frustration turned into a loyalty point and a greater chance of returning business in the future. 

The challenge? This is a new way of working for established banks. Challenger brands are born to it, but 150+year old institutions aren’t, and it can feel like a massive step. It needn’t be. Like with digital product development, it needn’t be immediate and sweeping. It can be iterative and based on small steps. The rest will follow naturally.

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