Customer and employee experience should top banks priority list in 2021

By  Diane O’Hara

In 2020 going digital was no longer optional for many bank customers. While consumers have been steadily becoming more digital (according to Statista, the number of mobile users is approaching 7 billion, and the average individual checks their phone 63 times per day, including for mobile banking), some who resisted the digital wave were forced to use digital banking channels for the first time. And many financial institutions who have invested in digital tools for years are now at a pivotal point in their digital journey, wanting to keep new digital users engaged and ensuring the digital experience is as seamless as possible for all clients.

As 2021 approaches, consumers will continue to act on the behaviors formed during the pandemic, especially as it relates to digital means of operation and communication, and banking is an area that they will look to for consistency and ease as they continue to navigate through the massive shift to the digital world. Here is what banks should consider.

The digital experience needs to be personalized

According to Accenture, only 29% of people trust their banks to look after their long-term financial wellbeing, compared with 43% two years ago. While digital usage is a positive for banks, the decrease in human interactions means banks need to work at rebuilding trust in a digital first world.

Customers are looking for the right balance – they want transactions to be seamless, consistent, simple and stress free. But when they are looking for advice and guidance around more complex financial events, most customers still want the human touch. At the end of the day, the customer’s ultimate goal is to be able to complete a desired transaction in the easiest, simplest way – and to reach a human when they need one. Financial institutions are in a unique position to be able to provide the means for customers to achieve this, by combining frictionless digital experiences with appropriate access to human channels.

For example, when customers use an online platform or mobile device to interact with their bank, they are looking for a seamless experience from start to finish. Financial institutions should understand how to make the digital journey as simple and clear as possible, while providing access to real-time assistance – either through an automated channel or through a human interaction when necessary.

Feedback garnered through this process should be shared across channels, providing support to other customers who may run into the same questions and insight to the organization on what needs improvement. It is all about understanding the needs of customer and quickly adapting to any situation to drive both efficiency and loyalty.

Employee and customer experience collaboration is essential for improved results

In 2018, more than half of all business leaders planned to create individualized employee experiences comparable to customer experiences, according to Accenture. It’s no secret that employees are a wealth of information, especially when it relates to the customer experience. Given their proximity to those they assist, they generally understand what’s working and what’s not, and can frequently pinpoint the underlying policies and procedures that cause friction.

Banks should use employee insights to both to improve the customer and the employee experience. The ability to use employee insights to understand and fix customer pain points, identify innovation opportunities, and make employee experiences better, gives organizations ammunition to provide additional resources and care for their employees, and the ability for employees to translate that care back to the customer.

Creating a holistic experience will help financial institutions work across different channels

The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, we will create 463 exabytes of data each day – a massive amount of data, and financial institutions are a significant consumer of that data. The trick is in connecting and understanding the signals that customers are sending across these data sources, and making what can seem to be an overwhelming volume of information actionable. Done right, successful institutions will set themselves apart, ultimately bringing new and unique perspectives to digital banking and uncovering fresh opportunities for success.

As an example, the combination of operational, behavioral and feedback signals provides context to specific interactions, and allows the bank to see larger trends and issues. Using these insights, financial institutions can intervene in places where customers may be struggling, reposition messaging to ensure customer success moving forward and identify new opportunities to better meet customer needs. The integration of these signals can make marketing strategies more efficient, drive service recovery and spur innovation.

Digital transformation is here. The banks that will win are those that can embrace the opportunity – constantly listening to what customers and employees are saying across a wide signal field and taking action to create better experiences, and increased trust and loyalty.

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