Can Your Bank Deliver a Better Customer Experience?

Can Your Bank Deliver a Better Customer Experience?

Steven Ramirez, CEO of Beyond the Arc, explores why customer experience has jumped to front of mind for most banks, and why there is no silver bullet to solve poor customer experiences. Success, he explains, is a medley of understanding your customer, deploying new technology, and keeping your staff happy, too.

Steven will be chairing the Customer Experience Summit Day at FinovateSpring this year in San Francisco, May 7 through 10. Find out more about this deep-dive day, or the full event.

Five years ago, no one in financial services was talking much about customer experience. Customer service? Sure. Customer satisfaction? Perhaps. But organizations weren’t equipped to examine the entire lifecycle of interactions that a person has as they learn about a bank, explore its products, become a customer, manage an account, and perhaps ultimately decide to leave or stay.

For one thing, the siloed nature of many organizations doesn’t create an incentive to think about a customer relationship holistically. Fast forward a few years, and much has changed. Banks and credit unions realize that they are essentially in a commoditized business. They understand that with so much similarity in products and services, one of the only ways to differentiate is based on the experience they deliver. But therein lies the challenge: what investments in technology, processes, and talent are most likely to improve customer experience?

Technology companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google have disrupted a range of industries from advertising, to retail, to computer hardware. In 2019, they’ll increasingly target financial services. With this growth in TechFin, we can expect to see the creation of financial experiences, not just new products or services. The way people receive a paycheck, spend it, and save for the future will be technology-enabled to better reflect their personal needs and long-term goals.

This means you can’t just plug-in a new technology and hope to transform.

The importance of customer understanding

Your first investments need to be in better understanding your customers—both the ones you have today, and the ones you hope to attract in the future. In a recent study about innovation, only 18.3% of companies identified themselves as a Digital Leader. And on a similar note, just 29.5% said they were very excited about “their ability to adapt over the next three years.” Critical to both is the necessity to know more about your customers, and their needs, than ever before. With the explosion of data, and the tools to derive insights from it, you can now improve customer experience by spotting previously undiscoverable trends and taking action. You can see how machine learning, cloud and edge computing, and more robust data integration capabilities could play a role.

Personalization at scale

Investments in customer understanding help to fuel progress in personalization. Cutting-edge marketing from ten years ago emphasized the importance of sophisticated segmentation. Today, your customers want to feel like you’ve tailored your offering to meet their unique requirements. An important implication of this is that you need to communicate with the audience of one.However, you need to do this at scale for thousands, or millions, of people. Each person, as an individual, must feel that you are considering their needs, and only their needs, when they interact with you. Predictive analytics can enable real-time solutions that match customers with the most appropriate products and services, at just the right time for them.

Improve employee experience to improve customer experience

As Beyond the Arc strategist Michelle Espinoza notes in our recently published CX trends article, “Companies are focusing so intensely on CX, they’re losing sight of the employee experience.” She goes on to note that, “just like Amazon set the bar for CX, we can expect to see companies emerge that set the bar for employee experience as well.” I can think of several leading companies that get this right: Disney, Zappos, Ultimate Software (a BTA client), Salesforce, and others. What will it take for your bank to make this list? And what tools and technology might help to ensure your success? Machine learning can help tie your recruitment process to key success factors for various jobs. Business intelligence, real-time alerts, and robotic process automation (RPA) can help you to report on, and streamline, operational conditions so your employees can remove customer pain points.

Tech, transformation, and the future of CX at your bank

Unfortunately, there’s no simple recipe to transform customer experience. If there was one, your raw ingredients would include better customer understanding, personalization, and employee engagement. In their book Outside In, Kelly Bodine and Harley Manning argue that there are billions of dollars at stake. They cite the example of Fidelity: when clients had a good experience, they invested 4.5 times more with the firm than people who did not, amounting to billions in incremental assets every year. And telecom provider Sprint saved $1.7 billion from averted customer service calls per year. Technology can certainly help you to acquire vital new capabilities. But to achieve success, your bank will need to treat CX as a core business process, focus your resources on measurable improvements, and invest in both people and technology.

More resources:

Who is Beyond the Arc?

We help companies apply innovation to attract customers, improve customer experience, and develop data-driven strategies. From telling your story in clear, compelling ways in digital and everywhere else, to unlocking business value with data science, AI, and machine learning, Beyond the Arc has got you covered. Follow us on Twitter @beyondthearc.

Chartway Federal Credit Union Referral Campaign Falls Short

Chartway_logo_1Sometimes it helps to see how NOT to do something. Today's victim: Chartway Federal Credit Union <> which has been running a clever, but poorly executed, 8.00% APY certificate-of-deposit special on its website for the past month (see screenshot below).


The good news
: It's a great offer. Any member making a successful referral gets to put up to $8,000 in an 8-month CD earning 8% (notice a theme there?). To qualify, the referral must bring in a new credit union member that opens a checking account along with the certificate OR initiates a $500-minimum direct-deposit relationship. The new member also gets to put up to $8,000 in an 8-month CD.

Members can make up to three referrals for a total deposit of $24,000. With the CU's normal 6-month rates at 3.4%, its more than double the normal rate of return, earning both the referrer and referee an extra $31 per thousand over the 8-month term or almost $250 extra per certificate (pre-tax). The eye-catching offer is featured front and center on its webpage.

The bad news: There is no hyperlink. Clicking on the logo, headline, or text does absolutely nothing! There aren't even any instructions on how to participate. Viewers are simply left hanging. The only extra info provided are the disclosures delivered via mouseover (see screenshot above).

It harks back to websites of the mid-90s that were put together by the "ATM guy." Unless you are trying to entice users to go on scavenger hunt through your website, this is a major mistake, and it's been that way for nearly a full month.


New Banking Customer Acquisition

UhaulOne key dynamic of the banking market is the "stickiness" of customers. You have to really mess up to motivate a customer to go through the hassle of unwinding their checking accounts and automated transfers, and setting everything up at a new financial institution. This customer "loyalty" is behind many pricing decisions, from interest rates offered on savings accounts to NSF/OD fees.

However, there is one time when customers literally beat a path to your door, looking to open multiple accounts. That's when they move away from the geographic footprint of their existing financial institution.

Google_movingtophoenix_1So, it's long been the holy grail of banking to find a way of identifying these movers and get them signed up before they go bank shopping in their new place of residence. Over the years, banks have worked with moving companies, large employers, and other sources of data on incoming residents. Millions of expensive, direct-mail packages have been dropped, but the returns are often marginal at best. The problem: households on the move don't read their junk mail, if they even receive it.

Enter the Internet age. What do most households do now once they know they are moving to a new city? They Google it.

Action Items
So, if you know potential customers are Googling your city, you better put your name into areas they are visiting, such as rental listings, real estate listings, school info, and so on. And once you get their interest, your website better speak directly to their situation, because, in the midst of a major move, they don't have a whole lot of time to think about checking accounts.

Bofa_movingcenterYou should have a place on your website devoted to new residents. It doesn't have to be as sophisticated as Bank of America's (click on inset for closeup), but it should tell potential customers:

  1. What a great presence you have in the community
  2. How your prices are competitive
  3. How convenient it is to move accounts to your bank
  4. How easy it is to get ahold of someone who cares (e.g., "chat now with our moving specialist")

We'll cover this subject, including a detailed look at online efforts to attract movers, in the next issue of Online Banking Report (to be published in late-April).