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Retail banking customers continue to be underwhelmed

Remember the good old days? When your trusty banking customer was loyal, low interest rates dictated competitive advantage and a customer’s main gripe was that you were the only shop on the high street closed on a Saturday afternoon?

How things have changed. Now, customers expect the same level of service from their banks as they do their shops, restaurants and couriers. Today’s customer does not discriminate, they form their expectations through comparing and contrasting brands – irrespective of industry. This means the banking customer experience is pitched against the greats of service like Amazon, Waitrose and John Lewis.

So how does retail banking measure up against the greats in a customer’s eyes? Well, according to the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) released by the Institute of Customer Service, not great. Banks and building societies manged to slip down the sector rankings in the last year, dropping from fourth to seventh place.  Despite considerable efforts to improve customer service, banking is the only industry in the survey that hasn’t improved its rating for customer satisfaction. Furthermore, just four banks feature in the top 50 organisations for customer satisfaction.

All in all, this paints a bleak picture for the state of customer experience in retail banking. Clearly, the evolution of customer experience in banking is not meeting the rate of evolution in customer expectations. Customers now demand a seamless and caring experience, and in an era of comparison they are likely to shift their accounts between banks in search of the love and affection they are pining for.

In days gone by, this thought of infidelity wouldn’t have left a scratch on their ego or cast a shadow of doubt on whether a large bank truly understood their customers. However, with the Competition and Markets Authority set to suggest new proposals this month that would make it even easier for consumers to switch banks – egos will need to be parked and mirrors might need to be held up.

This shifting landscape is compelling, and prompts the obvious question: how can banks step up their game to deliver the best experience possible to the customer?

Firstly, it’s important to look at the research by consultancy CACI which found that banking through mobile apps is the UK’s number one way to bank. Ultimately, customers are now more connected and knowledgeable than ever before, using an array of different digital channels to contact companies with questions and complaints. On the old fashioned side, footfall in bank branches has fallen almost 200 million over a five-year period. Therefore, what banks need to be asking themselves in a marketplace that is increasingly centred around technology, mobility and social media is; have they adapted their customer approach to accommodate these preferred new channels?

If not, they need to. To get ahead in this new world the most successful banks will be the ones who focus on digital customer engagement; providing consistent, personalised experiences that reach customers just as they need them and, through the channels most relevant to them.

Secondly, great customer experience whole heartedly depends on the quality of staff and, significantly, the tools that they have at their disposal to serve the needs of their customers. Interestingly, the Customer Service Index attributed the failings to lack lustre complaint handling and staff competency. To confirm its importance further, the top 50 organisations in the index are differentiated by high performance in complaint handling, helpfulness and competence of employees, especially over the phone.

So how can banks rectify their underwhelming level of complaint handling? Well, customers now engage with businesses across multiple channels, each providing a different kind of interaction and a piece of a customer’s history. In order to suitably equip customer service teams, businesses must make sure they’re capturing all the relevant information that is available across these platforms. By doing so, customer-service teams can have all the information they need at their fingertips to build a complete picture of the situation and the customer they are dealing with. Simply, access to the right information about each customer, in the right context, at the right time will empower customer-service teams to respond and handle complaints effectively and efficiently.

Regardless of the meteoric growth of digital, people do still want to talk to people. Therefore, it’s now a matter of connecting the digital and human touchpoints, as well as giving customer service reps context on what interaction customers have already had with your brand. Modern, flexible CRM systems can provide just that. Offering individualised service based on a 360 view of customers and the one-click ability to share information with exactly the right person within a company to deal with an enquiry.

With a possible reduction in the barriers to switch banks and an ever-more confident customer demanding higher standards, consumer engagement is becoming the true differentiator in the retail banking world. Having the correct systems and processes in place to empower customer-facing staff is a fundamental for banks who want to step-up and do a better job of keeping customers happy.



Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 30 August, 2016, 19:22Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

If UK banks are interested, they can learn how to improve CX from their counterparts in USA, China and India. In these three countries, Banking provides the best CX of all industries, according to Forrester.

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