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The need for a customer-centric bank

For financial services providers, the needs of their customers must be at the heart of their digital transformation. This is true for both fintechs looking to steal business from established players, and those established players looking to protect their market share.

Banks don’t need to be convinced of the need for digital transformation. They’re all doing it. And neither do they need to be convinced of the need to keep their customers happy—over the years, there has been a significant shift from the old fashioned model of having to meet with a bank manager to make important financial decisions, which was often an experience customers found patronising, to today’s model where customers are empowered to make these decisions themselves and they can do so in a more timely manner.  What isn’t clear throughout the banking industry is the connection between the two. It’s not just important to update legacy systems and innovate, the needs of the customer must be considered at every step.

Businesses in other sectors already understand this. In a survey of customer experience decision makers we conducted in late 2018, a majority said that improving customer experience is the most important overall business objective they have. This may seem unremarkable—of course the customer is important—but these businesses placed customer experience above even priorities such as “net profit” and “revenue growth”.

What many businesses now understand is that customer expectations are so high that every customer interaction needs to be positive or market share is at risk. Financial services has traditionally been an area where customers were unlikely to move around much, but this has changed. An ever-growing fintech space means more competition than ever before for both core banking services and extras such as international transfers and invoice factoring—not to mention mechanisms such as the Seven-day Switching Service, designed to encourage customers to move around and increase competition.

What can financial services learn from what other sectors are doing to pursue this priority? How does customer-centricity differ from good old-fashioned “service with a smile”?

What does the customer-centric bank look like?

Financial services are in a unique position—unlike so many other customer service businesses, they have access to a great deal of customer data, such as outgoings, income and savings patterns. This means that it’s possible for a bank to get a far better idea of a customer’s wants and needs, and to deliver the level of customer experience consumers crave.

Good customer service is less about the personal touch and more about personalisation. What will make the difference between a good customer experience, and a great one, will be contextually-relevant content, distributed at the right time, via the channel of choice for the customer.

So, for example, some banks are already predicting their customers’ spending patterns and reacting to it. They can offer their customers a warning if they look likely to go into or over an overdraft, have a regular payment that they may not be able to afford, or maybe even that they’ll be able to save a little bit extra this month. How this is communicated to customers is important. It shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all but depend on the customer. It could be sent by text message, email, a push message when logging in or even via a Facebook chatbot. But what’s important is that the message is relayed in a manner that the customer responds to it.

Communication through the right channels is important, but so is cross-channel communication. One of the biggest issues raised by our survey, and one of the biggest frustrations for customers, is the siloed nature of staff and systems. This disconnect means that what has been communicated through one channel, for example phone banking, may not be reflected in another channel, such as SMS.

Orchestrating these channels is what will make the difference between a bank that offers a slightly more personalised service, and a truly customer-centric bank. Financial services providers need to prioritise the customer experience above all else—it is key not only to growth, but to survival in a far more crowded market.

 

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Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 25 January, 2019, 19:00Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

...and language plays a very important - though often overlooked - role in a bank's attempt to be customer-centric. 

"...marketing relies on data analytics to determine who to target and how to target them. But then comes crafting of the actual message, which (mostly) consists of written words." ~ https://thefinancialbrand.com/77720/bank-credit-union-marketing-messages-communications/ via @FinancialBrand .