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How will customer experience in financial services evolve by 2030?

Banking in the metaverse might not be for everyone, and technology solutions are devoid of empathy – for now. But, according to our expert roundtable panel, financial services operators can build trustand loyalty by embracing data and staying committed to understanding and supporting customers

SA -Susan Allen, head of customer transformation, Barclays UK
AP - Adam Powers, global head of experience design, HSBC Wealth and Personal Banking
SR - Samantha Richardson, senior visioneering consultant, Twilio
KR - Kat Robinson, customer experience director, Metro Bank
AS - Ahmed Sheikh, digital technology director, RSA

What could customer experience (CX) look like for financial services operators in 2030?
AP: Future forecasting is always risky, but key things point to the likely trajectory. The concept of every customer having their bank in their pocket will evolve, and that smartphone experience will become more fully featured, contextual and personalised. There is also a push to simplify financial services in general and banking in particular. The industry needs to draw on the best CX in other environments like the retail or automotive industries.

SA: There has been such a significant shift to digital banking. We have gone from zero to over 10 million registered app users in just eight years. No technology can provide empathy and human touch, though. We still need to make it easier for people to access face-to-face services, either in-branch, over the phone, or through video calls. Technology is opening up channels and opportunities for banking to go into people’s homes.

KR: A lot of foundational work needs doing to curate cross-channel journeys – so someone can start something in-branch and complete it later at home. While digital channels will be more developed by 2030, face-to-face banking will remain important. Research shows that three in four Brits are comfortable using technology to manage their money – but what about the remaining 25%?

AS: The banking sector has come a long way in its digital evolution, but others in the financial services industry lag behind from a CX perspective. For example, it’s interesting to compare what’s happening in the United States, where customers can use subscription-based models to bundle insurance products from various providers. Insurtechs here are busy playing catch up, but the regulators need to play a part and not stifle innovation.

SR: There is a massive drive to make financial services more accessible and integrate them into our lives. Twilio works with customers worldwide, and in some regions, we are seeing the rise of WhatsApp banking. And in the US, it’s possible to complete an insurance claim from start to finish over SMS. Over in Asia, data-driven super-apps enable customers to purchase goods wherever it’s most convenient.

There is a massive drive to make financial services more accessible and integrate them into our lives

What are the biggest current CX challenges and opportunities for financial services operators?

AP: The role of the brand experience is underestimated in many organisations, not just in financial services. There should be a continuity of experience across every channel, across our products and services. If there isn’t, you’ll lose the customer’s trust. Marketing and CX design teams need to collaborate more. Additionally, we are implementing the latest cybersecurity technology and authentication as we want our customers to feel secure in an environment where fraud and scamming are accelerating.

AH: One of the main challenges is that the cost of technology implementation will increase, especially for financial services with complex legacy systems. Operators want to meet rising customer expectations but at a reasonable expense. As we advance, this is the most significant practical implementation concern and could limit digital transformation. Similarly, cyber risk needs to be managed and mitigated, but organisations don’t want to get too bogged down. It’s a tricky balance to strike, as customers need to have that protection.

KR: There is a technological arms race between the banks, and smaller challenger banks, like Metro, don’t have the deepest pockets. It’s easy to fall into the copycatting trap. You have to be clear about your customer base’s wants and needs and develop products and services that will improve their experience. I’m not sure our customers will be banking in the metaverse in 2030.

SA: There’s ample opportunity for banks to simplify digital functions and use data and artificial intelligence to personalise what customers see in their bank in their pocket. There is so much functionality in apps today, but the average person only needs to access about three things. We want to make the digital app experience more relevant to our users.

SR: One exciting thing we are seeing is the change in the way some legacy financial services companies are operating in terms of CX. They are collaborating more, recruiting developers, but sitting them next to the customer service team to learn from that first-hand experience, and there is genuine integration. That way, they can respond to create a human, customer-centric experience. Also, considering about 45 million scam text messages were sent in the UK last summer alone, security mechanisms need to be effective.

How can financial services operators ensure trust remains at the heart of their CX solutions?

KR: We are trying to be more imaginative as a bank and thinking beyond money. We have started running in-person and virtual network events and workshops and have a financial education programme that, for example, explains how to spot scams and online fraud. We also run a school programme that culminates in a branch visit to show that they are not intimidating places. These services, which don’t cost a lot to provide, are designed to understand, engage and support our customers better, to build trust.

SA: Even now, going into a bank branch can be daunting for many people. We want to take banking to our customers and go deeper into the communities we serve. We are trialling different formats to see where people need us most – in libraries and shopping centres, for instance. There is a big demand for financial education and help from banks. Recently, we offered 400 video appointments and had to close the lines within two hours, with over 1,000 people on the waiting list. Enabling more people to feel in control of their money is
critically important.

AP: At HSBC, the customer research team is part of the experiences group. That collaboration is growing in importance and helps engender trust. We need to be more sophisticated in how we contact our customers and how we garner insights. Research needs to be done across the entire continuum to drive the kind of propositions that we develop and right to the other end in terms of customer lifetime value and enhancing services.

AS: If financial services get the CX wrong, people are now quicker to complain online, especially on social media platforms. So operators need to be vigilant and respond fast to bad press and negative comments. It’s an opportunity to understand why the customer is unhappy and fix something that is broken, but it also allows you to ensure the customer that you are there for them and listening.

SR: Building excellent CX on top of banking is easier than building banking onto great CX. Those that commit to human-centred banking and show a genuine drive to meet and care for customers in their preferred channels will win trust and custom in the coming years.

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