In a really short time, the financial industry has embraced the digital revolution and brought customers willingly along for the journey. As standard, we now expect to be able to manage our money wherever, whenever and however we want.
The huge opportunities for growth in the payments sector means that traditional banks have found themselves in competition not only with innovative fintech startups, but with major technology companies such as Apple and Samsung.
These digital-first businesses really understand customer demand for well-connected, personalised and contextual experiences and, unlike the banks themselves, they are uninhibited by legacy infrastructures. New entrants to the market are therefore credible challengers and they are rapidly turning a monopoly market into an extremely competitive one.
To stay relevant in this new era of choice, where consumers have all the power to choose services which best meet their needs, traditional financial institutions are under increasing pressure to adapt and innovate. The cost of falling behind is huge, with a recent report by KPMG Nunwood forecasting that better customer service could earn the UK’s four biggest banks an extra £3.7 billion each in next three years. (1)
With banking by smartphones and tablets now the preferred choice for consumers to manage their finances, according to the British Bankers’ Association, (2) a mobile-only approach is the first step for financial services to meet changing customer expectations.
Barclays provides a strong industry example of a traditional bank adapting to remain technologically relevant. With its mobile app, users are able to transfer funds quickly, cancel direct debits or report missing cards from their smartphones.
Apple Watch owners can also now check their balances on their smartwatches. The wearables market is still in its infancy, yet businesses such as Barclays are predicting demand before it exists – a head start which will help to guarantee their position as a mobile banking leader in the future.
Of course, being mobile-enabled is only the beginning of the journey to mobile maturity. With competition heating up, businesses will only stay ahead of the game for as long as they are able to deliver engaging experiences across multiple touchpoints to any consumer who wants it. If that means providing smartwatch-friendly banking apps, or other more innovative and ambitious initiatives to ensure they’re staying relevant to their customers, so be it.
Banks are in a unique position to understand what each of their customers want and when they want it, having built up rich data on their preferences, behaviours and spending habits over a number of years.
They have the ability to optimise and personalise experiences more effectively than any other sector, so customer interactions become easier and more enjoyable. For example, presenting relevant shortcuts to make sure customers are able to find what they’re looking for quickly will save time in their busy lives, while relevant offers enabled by location-aware technologies are a nice “value add” to their everyday banking.
Giving customers what they want also offers powerful up-sell opportunities. If a customer opens a current account, are they more likely to sign up for a savings account? Or if they have taken out a new loan, is there a credit card which helps them to earn cash back and repay that loan in a more cost-effective way?
Personalisation does not come without its challenges, however. There are some strict rules around the level of privacy required in the financial services sector, as well as some important considerations around how much personalisation is too much. Customers aren’t looking to be managed or viewed as another statistic to be influenced; they want businesses to fully empathise with their experience as empowered consumers.
More competition in the financial services sector is a great thing for consumers as it will push the industry to deliver more personalised and contextual experiences
But relevant personalisation, delivering a coherent and seamless customer experience, is a major issue across the board. A recent report conducted by PAC on behalf of Adobe (3) highlighted that despite customer experience being determined by both back-end functions as well as front-end operations, 57 per cent of respondents in the financial services sector said departments from across their organisation do not collaborate well enough to achieve a holistic customer experience.
Businesses in the sector must work towards implementing a dedicated organisational structure for co-ordinating all customer-related activities. They have to break down data siloes and bring together different parts of the organisation to work jointly on optimising the customer experience.
In such a fast-paced and competitive market, banks must do everything they can to keep up with continual advances in technology. This means being structurally well organised and being agile enough to adapt and innovate.
More competition in the financial services sector is a great thing for consumers as it will push the industry to deliver more personalised and contextual experiences. Those businesses that get on the front foot will improve their relationships with the customer which in turn has a tangible business impact.
THREE STEPS TO OPTIMISE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
To optimise customer experience, financial services organisations must always remember to make, manage and measure.
Make: First, identify who your key customers are and map out the possible journeys they will make; for example, acquisition, upgrade or self-service. From here, you can start to create the relevant messaging framework and content for each potential customer and their journey.
Manage: Use the right technologies so the creative assets you make can be delivered across multiple touchpoints, whether that is online, a mobile app, social media or digital display. By implementing the right content management solution, digital asset management and digital asset delivery solution, you can reduce management overheads by creating smart content that can be reused for different screens and devices, while also ensuring future device and touchpoint capability.
Measure: Next, marketers need to understand how, where, when and why their digital experiences are being consumed in order to measure their impact and provide clear understanding of the return on investment from customer experience initiatives. Comprehensive metrics provide actionable insights to improve content and optimisation efforts across channels. Content, assets and customer journeys can be tested, targeted and automated to provide maximum relevance at all points of the customer life cycle, while minimising the need for marketer intervention.