Lots of banks try to create a customer experience that is unique. While many succeed, more fail. In our quest to find what are the exact elements that compose a banking experience that customers truly standup and take notice, we have narrowed the list to a series of specific elements culled from interviews, mystery shopping and data analytics (surveys, satisfaction correlations, etc.) from some of the best companies and banks in the world including Umpqua, Metro Bank (UK), USAA, Ritz-Carlton, Nordstrom’s, Virgin, Disney, Starbucks, Zappos, Amazon, Apple and various community banks that do things right.
After the analysis, what you end up with is a roadmap to build a superior customer experience model. For the record, we know that none of this is easy and while we are trying to institute many of these findings ourselves we are not sure we will be at 100%. However, if you can successfully pull it off in the shadow of the previous great companies that we mentioned, your bank can command a premium price while having loyalty that is rock solid.
To get there, our research shows that it is important to consider six different dimensions of what constitutes a great customer experience. Some overlap, but all are distinct disciplines to really make a difference.
Of all the items that drive bank service, having a quality product or service is the surest way to build a positive customer experience. Here, a multitude of attributes play into the overall experience, but the product or service must do its job and do its job with style. The product should solve whatever problem it was designed for and be delivered with a staff of knowledge, warmth and attitude. Equally important is that the product must make an emotional connection with the user and have a brand that makes them feel good about themselves. While all the remaining factors contribute to superior customer experience, they mean little if the product has fees that were not explained, errors on the statements or supported by a staff that could care little.
Create A Journey
This is the hardest for bankers to understand, but it is one of the most important. While good products solve a problem, great products evolve with the customer. This is the difference between having a product and having a brand.
This also explains why putting a “Customer since 1984” on checks or statements is so important as it serves as a reminder of when the customer started the journey. To be great, any product or service offered should be placed into context of the user or company’s lifecycle and then be allowed to evolve. Marketing that paints a clear picture of the steps of growth and how one type of account connects to another is important to tell the story of the product in relationship to the customer. Banks typically think one product, but they really should be presenting that product in the context of others to really boost the customer experience. Having reward levels serves also to remind the customer of their journey and ensures they understand what they have emotionally invested in the bank. In similar vein, any time a customer can share success stories about the bank in a social context, customer satisfaction is sure to rise, as the shared experience becomes part of the journey.
Customize The Experience
Unheard of just ten years ago, banks are now taking the lead and customizing everything from products to marketing. Having a good customer relationship management / marketing customer information file is a start to make sure every touch point understands the customer’s value and history. Call recognition, loyalty programs and a simple database of the customer’s preferences can all be leveraged to personalize the banking experience.
While the ability to customize the experience is the engine, the fuel is customer data. Here, in the last two years, banks can collect over 500+ bits of important data without asking the customer for anything. Utilizing a simple Facebook or LinkedIn API, hundreds of data fields can be collected. Transaction history, application data, demographic information and psychographic profiles can be added to the database toll allow a bank to provide better service in a more timely matter at a point where it matters most.
Being easy ranges from the simple fact that banks need to limit wait times, expand availability where it makes sense, resolve problems quickly, confirm transactions immediately and be able to handle a customer over multiple channels.
A recent Google study showed that 66% of customers use their smartphone and laptop at the same time while 22% try to use both for the same transaction. Simultaneous, multi-channel delivery is the new goal for many large banks in 2014 a trend that will grow and make it to community banks by 2016.
Innovative multichannel solutions greatly simplify and ease transactions. Imagine you are talking to an account manager on your smartphone to send a wire and she offers you four different choices. What if you could simultaneously see the account or wire choices on your smartphone while talking to the rep? Banks are testing this out and this approach will soon ease the journey.
At the end of the day a bank that wows the customer needs to be valuable and relevant. Every bank must answer the “Why?” for every product and service. The offering must mean something in a larger solution to help make the customer’s life better.
Every customer wants to be treated according to their individual needs instead of being treated like a generalized transaction. Banks that can bring together trained staff that can deliver superior products smoothly across multiple channels will gain market share from a superior customer experience.
Consider the airline industry. To build a positive customer experience not only do you have price the seat right, fly on time and be friendly while doing it, you also have to have loyalty programs, a website/mobile app that allows you to book more than flights and various channels to support the engagement. Banking will quickly follow suit, but this will prove difficult. The good news is that few banks have this vision and your bank can get further down the path by making some of these items a reality.
At CenterState, we are in various stages of going down the above path and it will take us some time. However, if we can excel in all six disciplines, we feel we will not only provide a superior customer experience, but make it tougher for our competition to duplicate the experience provided. This will be a competitive advantage in itself.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on March 04, 2014