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Topic: CX for Financial Services

Customer Satisfaction: What are the right KPIs to measure?

October 4, 2017

 

 

Guest-blogger Andrew Huber of Harland Clarke discusses 7 rules to follow in determining the right KPIs to measure in customer satisfaction.

 

It’s widely accepted that there can be tremendous value for businesses that rely on key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure, manage and communicate organization results.  KPIs are a valuable tool to tell you if you’re on the right course toward meeting your strategic objectives, or if you need to make adjustments to get back on track.

But one of the key questions that managers grapple with is determining which key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure, and how to deploy them successfully over time. This is especially true when it comes to the measurement of customer satisfaction.

Why determining customer service KPIs can be tricky

Focusing on the wrong KPIs means you’re spending time and money measuring, monitoring and trying to improve metrics that aren’t critical to your financial institution’s objectives. The same is true of poorly structured KPIs, or KPIs that are too difficult and costly to obtain, or to monitor on a regular basis.

Select too many, and you’ll be overloaded with endless pages of data too extensive to be effectively managed or used to improve customer satisfaction.

To avoid common headaches that occur when trying to determine which KPIs to measure, it’s best to adhere to the following 7 rules:

  • Each KPI has its own applicability, and limitations. Each can stand on its own as a useful tool for measuring certain customer interactions, but a comprehensive measurement model is necessary to give a complete picture of account holder experience.
  • Determine what KPIs to measure based on the key drivers that your account holders consider important. Just because something is measurable doesn’t make if meaningful in the context of your account holder’s expectations.
  • Define KPIs accurately and clearly, ensuring that the aspect of the customer experience being addressed is both quantifiable and measurable.
  • KPIs should link back to a customer satisfaction objective and measure something you can impact.
  • Ensure that KPIs deliver comprehensive, actionable insight that is linked to and applied to particular employee interactions or processes on an on-going basis.
  • Focus on trends in your KPIs more than specific data. The direction of change usually matters most.
  • Reviewing on a quarterly or annual basis can provide both positive and challenging insights.[1]

 

Identifying the key drivers of customer satisfaction for your specific account holder base and aligning them with these – or other – metrics that align with your objectives can be the start of a successful KPI program.  Successfully applying the insights you derive from your KPIs can improve key drivers, leading to greater customer satisfaction, stronger brand loyalty and, ultimately, better performance.

But Don’t Get Too Set in Your Ways

KPIs should not be set in stone, but rather evaluated consistently over time and modified where necessary. Revisit your assumptions. Financial institution goals and objectives change, as do those for customer experience. Don’t continue to use KPIs that are no longer meaningful or useful.

While there are an infinite number of metrics that can be used to build KPIs around customer satisfaction, there are several that have gained wide acceptance across industries for providing valuable insight.

Examples include: the Net Promoter Score (NPS), the Customer Satisfaction Score, the Customer Effort Score and Forrester’s Customer Experience Index.

One size doesn’t fit all. When it comes to selecting the right key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring customer experience, it’s important that the KPIs you use provide valuable customer insights aligned with the goals of your financial institution, not your competitor down the street.

If a metric isn’t key to you, it’s not a “key” performance indicator.  Select KPIs that are relevant for your industry, and, just as importantly, for your organization.

[1] Patterson, Matthew. “How Top Customer Service Teams Measure Performance,” Help Scout, April 16, 2016

How to Create a Successful Customer Experience Strategy

September 8, 2017

 

 

CSP is happy to have guest-blogger, Andrew Huber of Harland Clarke return this month and share his insights on creating a customer experience strategy that is successful.

 

“How are we doing?”

This question is at the foundation of any organization’s quest for continuous improvement. For banks and credit unions, the answer encompasses more than an institution’s financial statements.

In customer-centric organizations, the role of customer feedback is critical to sustaining and deepening account holder relationships, and contributing to long-term profitability.

But, are we there yet?

While many financial institutions say they want to improve the customer experience, are they taking the necessary steps to get there?  A true voice of the customer strategy is a multi-faceted process whose focus is to understand the customer experience via actionable data and analysis on multiple levels.

Below are three important things to keep in mind if your financial institution desires a truly comprehensive customer survey experience.

3 Considerations for Creating a Useful Voice of the Customer Strategy

#1 – Consider All Customer Experience Touchpoints

First comes the design and deployment of surveys using a variety of methodologies. The focus is on gathering, measuring and interpreting customer experience feedback at every touchpoint, from new account openings in the branch to the call center and online channels. Every customer experience touchpoint must be considered, in order for your business to plan for it.

#2 – Ensure You’re Gathering the Right Data

Surveys are just the start.

One of the keys to a successful customer experience program lies in the data accumulated from everything that’s happened to this point. The data gathered needs to be both actionable and all-inclusive. In other words, it needs to include real-time knowledge across significant customer satisfaction metrics that can be applied directly to specific operational and frontline areas that impact the account holder experience. Measuring net promoter score may only scratch the surface of what your financial institution would like to learn.

Learn important satisfaction metrics to measure outside of net promoter score in the white paper, “Customer Experience: Beyond Net Promoter Score.”

Download Your Copy Here.

#3 – Figure Out (in Advance) How You’ll Analyze the Data

While the core value that such a program can provide shouldn’t be underestimated, there can also be a thin line between a comprehensive service that yields insightful customer understanding and one with reams of survey data but little customer insight that can be used to directly affect bottom line performance.

This is why it’s important to answer these questions in advance of implementing your survey strategy: once you’ve gathered the data, then what? Who will mine the data for actionable insights?

If you don’t have a data scientist on staff, consider outsourcing to a third-party.

In today’s customer-focused world, dissecting and analyzing the customer experience can provide key insight that banks and credit unions can use to ensure they are truly putting the customer first. This mindset paves the way for multiple benefits including:

  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Greater loyalty and retention
  • Better performance

What Does Customer Experience Mean For Financial Institutions?

August 2, 2017

 

 

CSP is happy to have guest-blogger, Andrew Huber, Program Manager at Harland Clarke, share his insights about customer experience (CX) and the need for financial institutions to deliver outstanding service at every touchpoint.

 

 

You likely know that the key to any strong, long-lasting business is delivering an exceptional customer experience (CX).

Unfortunately, when it comes to financial institutions, there can be a big disconnect between the experience they think they’re providing vs. the experience account holders are receiving. For instance, 41 percent of banks and credit unions consider themselves “relationship focused,” while just 13 percent of consumers say the same.

So how can financial institutions stay competitive and deliver an outstanding CX? Especially when, in the age of mobile devices and social media, everyone wants something tailored just for them?

The answer is surprisingly simple (and yet incredibly difficult) – financial institutions must deliver outstanding service at every touchpoint in the customer experience, from in-branch to call center and from online to mobile device.

This white paper reveals that account holders remain loyal to their financial institutions for five main reasons:

  • They were treated well
  • They experienced good communication
  • They received high quality advice
  • Their problems were resolved quickly
  • They had a personal relationship with at least one financial institution employee

Financial institutions have a strong incentive to keep account holders happy: increasing customer retention just 5 percent can show a 25-95 percent increase in profits. This is because acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5-25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one, with customers having a positive experience spending 140 times more than ones who have a bad experience.

If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Regardless of the context, people are loyal to who and what makes them happy, they’re more willing to recommend the source of their happiness, and they’re likely to want more from this source. Their financial institutions are no exception.

Creating a positive CX sounds easy enough, but these statistics only convey the benefits, not how crucial it is to get customer experience right.

In one study, 41 percent of account openers and 33 percent of account closers cited customer experience as the number one reason for making their decision, outranking competitive interest rates, low fees and location.

It can take years to build a positive customer experience, but a single negative experience, a single episode of poor customer service, or a single complaint that goes unaddressed can cost a financial institution an account holder — or more, thanks to the power of social media.

CX Best Practices
Want to ensure your financial institution is prepared to deliver an outstanding CX? Find eight best practices to implement in this white paper, “Customer Experience: Best Practices for Growing Revenue.”

> Download your copy here

 

The Future of Banking in 2017 – and What it Means for the Customer Experience

January 26, 2017

2017 outlook and predictionsIn this season of annual meetings and strategic planning, those with a 30,000-foot view on banks and credit unions are predicting what the year will bring. Some of these predictions are fueled by polls and studies, while others come from the informed instinct of seasoned experts. Having served the financial services industry with quality customer research for 30 years, CSP is interested in how these predictions could impact the customer.

So let’s review some of what the experts foresee for banks and for customer experience trends across industries, through our own unique lens:

“Banks will open 1,000 new branches, with an emphasis on the right location.”
– David Kerstein, BAI Banking Strategies

Our Take: The influx of digital channels has had banks questioning the relevance of the branch for years now. As banks reassess and update their branch placement, they will need to look to their customer data to evaluate how the new locations are serving the customers, both new and current, now using those branches. Brick-and-mortar branches aren’t dead, but the successful banks will be the ones who optimize the in-branch experience around customer needs.

“CEOs will exit at least 30% of their CMOs for not mustering the blended skill set needed to drive digital business transformation, design exceptional personalized experiences, and propel growth.”
– Forrester’s
2017 Predictions: Dynamics That Will Shape The Future In The Age Of The Customer

Our Take: As we’ve reported before, more and more CMOs are finding themselves saddled with the responsibility for the customer experience. While not a traditional marketing function, new research unequivocally proves customer experience to be not only a decisive factor in brand identity, but also in differentiation within the marketplace. An alternative would be the fairly novel position of CXO – Chief Experience Officer – but the point remains that this person would need the left-brain/right-brain balance of data analysis and experience design expertise.

Consumers will take more control of their financial relationships and will look for digital tools for advice and insight. Banks will come to realize that fintech is not a threat, but rather an opportunity.”
– Bryan Clagett, CMO at Geezeo (
as reported by Jim Marous at the Financial Brand)

and

“One product that will likely receive greater attention in the next year is digital personal financial management (PFM). As customers develop higher expectations of their banks, reporting basic account data is no longer enough. Today’s banking customers are in greater need of financial advice than ever, and internal data silos prevent banks from providing effective and personalized guidance.”
Rob Guilfoyle of Abe, a customer service AI for financial institutions

Our Take: Customer loyalty is all about that relationship-building.  Digital tools and advances in artificial intelligence add convenience and responsiveness to daily transactions. That said, customers still like to talk to real live people when it comes to more complex money matters. That means understanding both the uses and the limits of automation and AI. Fintech-enabled solutions should seek to bridge the gap between software and staff, providing customers a direct and convenient channel to a trusted advisor.

And let’s not forget that a great customer experience starts with the employee experience:

Creating a culture of continuous feedback will be top priority for organisations and is being driven by millennials’ expectations for regular, ongoing feedback and the increasingly fast-paced business environment.  Adopting tools that enable people to receive regular feedback from different sources, such as peers, customers or multiple managers for instance, will therefore become more and more important for boosting engagement among the growing millennial workforce and improving overall productivity.”
– Sylvia VorhauserSmith of PAGEUP, an HR solutions provider

Our Take: Regardless of what generation the majority of your employees were born into, transparency and trust are essential to a healthy workplace environment. Any manager who is charged with giving employees feedback on their performance must be willing to take feedback, too, and to use it constructively for the benefit of the whole team. That’s the kind of leadership that builds a healthy and productive company culture. Smart employers will have structured systems in place to allow for this multi-directional feedback, as well as training and development programs to foster leadership. (Hey, we know a thing or two about that…)  


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3 Lessons Banks Can Learn from Wells Fargo’s Mistakes

October 17, 2016

wells fargo made mistakes that should give other banks pause

One of the biggest banks in the U.S., Wells Fargo, made one of the biggest mistakes in recent banking industry history. By pressuring their sales staff to grow the number of customer accounts by nearly any means necessary, they wound up crossing some major ethical and legal lines and created a scandal that has hurt the bank in more ways than one.

In September 2016, after the scandal broke, Wells Fargo’s stock (WFC) fell to the lowest levels seen since early 2014, and the bank saw profits drop 2.6% for that quarter. Regulators issued $185M in fines, and lawsuits are lining up from consumers, employees, and shareholders. CEO John Stumpf was publicly grilled by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the video of which quickly went viral, and he retired shortly thereafter.

This could happen anywhere.

There is nothing particularly special about Wells Fargo that made it the breeding ground for shady practices. In the competition for customers, all banks face continuing pressure to prove their success to shareholders and grow the business. Wells Fargo may have had the audacity to push the envelope into scandalous territory, but in theory, this could have happened anywhere. So what can banks learn from their mistakes?

1. Don’t sacrifice Quality at the expense of Quantity.

Wells Fargo was driven to these practices by a hunger for more – more customers, more accounts, more sources of revenue from fees associated with said accounts, more impressive numbers to show shareholders. Obsessing over the numbers is not the only way to grow a business. Ideally, customers choose you and stay with you because of the quality you provide. When a bank constantly strives to improve the quality of its customer experience, everyone wins.  

2. Don’t assume customers will tolerate anything.

Wells Fargo is one of the oldest and most recognized names in banking. Once a business is that established and secure, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that customers will tolerate misbehavior like aggressive sales tactics or public scandals. Switching banks isn’t easy, especially once a customer has multiple accounts and assets tied up with one institution. Maybe Wells Fargo assumed that the potential risk of angering or losing customers was too low to worry about. That’s a dangerous assumption to make; it’s safer to assume that customers are always watching and waiting for you to give them an excuse to switch to a competitor. Customers have already been letting Wells Fargo know how they feel: branch visits fell 10%, checking accounts 25%, and credit card applications 20%, compared to the previous year.

3. Don’t gamble with regulatory compliance.

There is simply too much at stake to risk weaseling your way through the maze of financial regulations or playing in the gray area. Fines, lawsuits, and brand reputation scandals are nothing to trifle with. Wells Fargo will likely survive this crisis, but they have a long and uphill road ahead to recover from the damage to their brand. Banks need to hold themselves accountable for compliance before regulators or customers force them to do so. (More insights into proactively protecting yourself from non-compliance risks: keep reading.)

Wells Fargo’s mistakes will likely go down in banking industry history as examples of What Not to Do. Don’t let the same thing happen to your bank, whether you’re a national household name or a regional staple. If you’re going to earn press headlines, make sure they’re good ones. Listen to the Voice of the Customer, build an internal culture to support customer experience quality, and stay on the regulatory straight-and-narrow.


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What Banks Must Do To Protect Against Noncompliance Risks

September 22, 2016

compliance is cheaper than finesBanks and credit unions are subject to extensive federal regulations regarding how they interact with customers and handle customer data, especially as it relates to lines of credit. Examples of consumer lending regulations include:

  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (1970): Regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of customers’ private information as it pertains to their credit reports
  • The Truth in Lending Act & Regulation Z (enacted 1968 under the Federal Reserve; turned over to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011): Standardizes the disclosure of costs and charges associated with lending so consumers can shop around
  • The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act (2009): Emphasizes fairness and transparency in the credit application process; also known as the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights
  • The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010): Created an independent watchdog agency to hold lenders accountable and prevent the risky, exploitative behavior that contributed to the recession of 2008

In the wake of the 2008 recession, the issue of regulation has been highly visible, both to those inside the financial industry and to consumers who benefit from these protections. Lenders who are found to be noncompliant with any of these regulations face heavy punitive fines. In 2014 alone, U.S. and European banks paid out nearly $65B in noncompliance fines, according to Boston Consulting Group. That’s not to mention the cost of litigation above and beyond the fines themselves.

With so much at stake, banks must be proactive about compliance.

any institution that offers lines of credit is subject to annual compliance auditsFinancial institutions that offer credit cards, mortgages, specialized loans, and co-branded credit cards through retail partners are subject to annual audits to assess their compliance status. Many institutions may think they are ready for these audits, but could be more proactive about ensuring their safety.

Customer service and sales personnel could be considered to be on the front lines of compliance efforts. Their behavior toward customers who are applying for credit is a make-or-break factor. In order to protect themselves against noncompliance risks, banks need to take steps before, during, and after the application process.

  • BEFORE: Thorough training for customer-facing staff, and regular follow-up on this training, are essential. Anyone in a lending role must be aware of the behaviors that could trigger a noncompliance red flag. These can include their professionalism, comprehensive knowledge of fees and policies, ability to answer customers’ questions, “pressuring” behaviors that could influence customers to apply or not apply, and whether the customer is treated differently based on factors like race, gender, age, and household income.
  • DURING: Treat customers according to the best practices covered in training. Explain all pertinent details to the customer and provide the disclosures required by law. Make sure the customer has the opportunity to speak up with any questions, concerns, or needs for clarification, so that by the time they walk out your door, they are well-equipped to make an informed decision.
  • AFTER: Surveying customers following their application process helps banks assess whether the above criteria were actually met. Data produced by these surveys proves useful during the audit process. Conducting surveys also helps banks identify potential red flags in nearly real time and address them with the necessary measures.

Leniency or human error across any regulatory criteria comes with mighty consequences. Having the right people in the right roles, emphasizing training and adherence to regulations, and following up with surveys and research, are among the best steps banks can take to protect themselves. This is especially relevant for co-branded credit cards that banks may offer in partnership with retailers, where the training element is out of the bank’s direct control. (Read more about the risks of co-branded credit card partnerships.)

Who holds the banks accountable for compliance?

Following the recession, the Obama administration created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau via the Dodd-Frank Act. Rather than leave everything to the Federal Reserve, the administration saw it necessary to appoint this agency as an objective third-party witness to lenders’ behavior.

Individual institutions, too, can benefit from appointing an objective, reliable outside party to monitor compliance. To help banks and credit unions insure their compliance status, CSP’s compliance solutions address the “After” portion of the credit application process. We collect data from customer surveys to support a bank’s position in the event of a complaint or an audit. This solution, which is entirely customizable, also allows us to notify a bank of potential red flags as they occur and reduce the risk of oversights or surprises.

To find out more about how we help banks protect themselves, contact John Berigan with your questions by email or by calling (800) 841-7954 ext:101.

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Banks: Are Your Co-Branded Credit Card Partners Putting You at Risk?

May 10, 2016

Retailers love store credit cards and purchase financing. When a store offers its customers credit, those customers are more likely to continue shopping there and making larger purchases. The store then collects additional profit on each sale in the form of interest, usage fees, and penalties.

When retailers partner with banks to provide lines of credit to their customers, banks get to see some of that profit, too. On its face, it’s an attractive and mutually beneficial arrangement, giving banks an additional source of sales outside their usual channels. However, not all that glitters is gold…

Consumer advocates are quick to warn consumers about the downsides of opening an in-store credit card, like undisclosed fees and penalties, promotional discounts that eventually expire, and potential harm to their credit scores. But it’s not just customers who use co-branded credit cards and purchase financing at their own risk.

Banks that partner with retailers expose themselves to non-compliance risks.
co branded credit cards

In-store credit cards are popular among retailers and customers, but banks need to exercise caution.

Following the financial crisis of 2008 that gave rise to the Great Recession, Congress, the Federal Reserve, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have pushed for increased oversight and regulation of creditors. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the CARD Act, imposing strict regulations to protect cardholders from unclear, unfair, or even predatory business practices.

Of course, banks are painfully aware of these regulations and the hefty penalties that come along with them. When a bank issues credit products in-house, it has direct oversight and control over the process. The bank can ensure that credit applications and accounts are being handled in compliance with regulations.

However, partnering with a third party retailer removes that element of control.

Banks must trust that their retail partners are just as rigorous about compliance as they would be themselves – and as with many things, there are no guarantees that all will go according to plan.

Merchants are also subject to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), which aims to protect the security of payments made with credit and debit cards. That includes payments made online, and the possibility that hackers might access consumer data and disperse it to criminals. A separate set of standards, the Payment Application Data Security Standards (PA-DSS), ensures that a merchant’s vendors supply products that are PCI-compliant.

And these are just a few examples of the extensive regulations surrounding the issuance of credit. The penalties for non-compliance with these laws and standards are nothing to be taken lightly. Not only are there hefty punitive fines to consider. Non-compliance has a ripple effect that touches share prices, investors, and senior managers, not to mention customers.

What can banks do to protect themselves against non-compliance risks?

Short of staying out of the co-branded credit card business altogether, and missing out on the benefits, banks must take it upon themselves to ensure that their partners are behaving by the rules.

Manage the risks of issuing retail credit cards by monitoring retailers' practices.

Manage the risks of issuing retail credit cards by monitoring retailers’ practices.

As customer experience experts and advocates with a long history of serving banks, CSP has developed a solution to this problem. We can do the footwork of checking in and collecting information on retailer compliance for you. We look for red flags like:

  • How was the customer treated during the application process?
  • Were they pressured into applying for a credit card?
  • Was the private information on their applications handled properly?
  • Did the retailer do enough to make the consumer aware of policies, rates, and fees?
To find out more about how we help banks protect themselves, contact John Berigan with your questions by email or by calling (800) 841-7954 ext:101.

 

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Sign up for our monthly email newsletter (see form on bottom of home page) or follow us on LinkedIn to stay updated.

New Challenges in CRM: The Complete Digital Banking Experience

April 27, 2016

It’s Tuesday. Lunchtime. You’re headed to your favorite local sandwich joint. You sit down, don’t even have to glance at the menu. You’re all ready to place your order when your waitress walks up and says, “Hi, I’d love to serve you, but we’re out of food right now. No drinks either. Please try again later.” She turns away with a “bummer!” look on her face.

error messageObviously that type of service wouldn’t fly in the restaurant industry. Nor does it in the digital banking world. Gone are the days when your website can display a pop-up politely announcing, “Sorry, we’re having technical difficulties. Please try again later.” Customers have come to expect more in these times of Amazon same-day shipping and eerily relevant Google ads.

Consumers are increasingly becoming accustomed to the immediacy, ease, and reliability of online experiences. And they’re becoming less forgiving when corporations don’t measure up to their expectations. In today’s world, banks must be aware of serving up a great digital customer experience, much as your favorite sandwich place must serve up a great lunch every day of the week.

What makes up a great digital experience?

Digital customer experience goes beyond having an easy-to-navigate website and the ability to check balances online. Your customers may expect any of the following types of tech-encounters now or in the near future:

  • mobile banking digital appMobile apps to check balances and make money transfers, with GPS technology to show the nearest branch and ATM locations, along with up-to-the-minute lending rates
  • Real-time remote check deposits using scan-and-upload technology
  • Digital wallet, offering the opportunity to pay using a smartphone
  • Text-to-ATM withdrawals
Ham and cheese, toasted

Your waitress knows you always come in on Tuesdays. And you always order the ham and cheese with a side of slaw. You don’t even have to ask anymore. And she always remembers to toast your sandwich for you. Isn’t that nice?

Banking customers want that same nice, toasty feeling when they’re online or on-the-go. Whether sitting at their desktop, on the couch with their tablet, or out and about with their cell, consumers like things quick, easy, and convenient. Customer-centric services that predict what people want, cater to their individual needs, and meet their expectations will help you attract and retain customers.

68 percent of Millennials believe that in just five years, the way we access our money will be totally different.

Setting goals for digital customer experience and measuring satisfaction aids banks in providing value; offering quick, easy, and effective solutions; and advising before a customer even makes an ask. That’s critical at a time when Millennials are becoming key decision-makers. A survey from a division of Viacom Media showed that 68% of Millennials believe in just five years, the way we access our money will be totally different, and one in three are open to switching banks in the next 90 days.

Analyze the entire digital experience

A good or bad experience with any of your digital touch points has the potential to make or break the customer experience. It’s critical to look at the full digital experience and not just one element of it. As technology continues to evolve, so too will the digital definition and customer expectations.

CSP is passionate about improving the customer experience on all fronts. We strive to adapt to whatever technology throws our way. That’s how we help you continue building customer loyalty and retention. Contact us today with your questions about customer experience management for digital banking.

Credit Unions Continue to Outrank Banks in Customer Experience

December 18, 2015

According to the 2015 Temkin Experience Ratings, which rank the customer experience of 293 companies over 20 industries, credit unions have earned the highest ranking for financial services over the past four years. USAA topped the list just above credit unions (which were rated as a group, not individually), followed by a bevy of big-name banks. 

credit unions and banks customer experience rankings from Temkin Group

What Are Credit Unions Doing Right?

Credit unions don’t pay taxes; they don’t face the same regulatory environment; and they operate as nonprofits, allowing them to offer lower fees and higher interest rates on deposit accounts – definitely a factor that makes them customer-friendly. But while these distinctions might make the playing field less than level between credit unions and banks, they’re not the only reasons that customers find credit unions appealing.

Credit unions are known for providing a more personal and flexible customer experience than retail and commercial banks. While banks have focused considerable attention on technological upgrades and the impending threat from digital-only banks, credit unions have remained customer- and branch-oriented.

Somewhat counterintuitively, this has given them an edge in customer experience and satisfaction: the personal touch is something customers crave. Financial matters are at once complex and intimate, and customers appreciate feeling like their institution is on their side and ready to assist them, not just make a profit.

Credit unions, for example, tend to be more flexible about working through tough issues like bad credit during a loan application, treating the customer as an individual, not just an application form and credit report.

Indeed, customer-centricity is practically built into the credit union “membership” model, often led by a member-elected board of decision-makers. As virtual shareholders in the institution’s success, members get a sense of personal inclusion and connection to the credit union that can be lacking at mega-sized banks with their own shareholders to please.

So can banks hope to catch up?

It’s not a lost cause. While they may still be at a disadvantage on fees and rates for the foreseeable future, they’re using some of their profits to lead the charge on the technology that is changing the face of customer service, like social customer service and virtual assistance. As customer expectations continue to evolve, we may not be far off from the day that digital availability and convenience start to carry more weight in satisfaction measurements. If or when this happens, we may find out whether it really is the lower cost of doing business with credit unions that keeps customers coming back, or if they’re willing to sacrifice technology in the name of closer connections to their institution.

But that doesn’t mean it’s safe to downplay the importance of personalization and excellent service that makes customers feel at welcomed, heard, and respected. If anything, the drive towards digital – a potentially cold, impersonal, inhuman interface – means banks need to focus even more on a top-notch customer experience that can’t be replicated by algorithms and artificial intelligence.

Would you want to do business with a bank run entirely by droids? We didn’t think so.

5 Front-to-Back Customer Experience Priorities for Banks in 2016

November 14, 2015

While you’re immersed in next-year planning, we’d like to tap on your shoulder on behalf of your customers. Assuming you want those customers to stay with you to 2017 and beyond, now is the perfect time to zoom in on your customer experience management strategy. Here are some of the key areas to focus on, on both sides of the teller’s counter.

FRONT-END PRIORITIES

faces and dataCustomer Intelligence

Every effort towards improving the customer experience is built on the foundation of customer intelligence. Now more than ever, banks should be looking at how they collect, analyze, and use their customer satisfaction data. Are customer feedback surveys asking the right questions? Are there untapped information resources to mine? Is there an effective system in place for integrating data from different channels, or are you suffering from the “silo” effect?

Digital Development

The demand for online & mobile banking solutions continues to march forward. At the same time, digital channels like web chat tools and social-enabled support are carving out their niche in the customer service department. Some banks will need to focus on catching up to the leading edge of these technologies, implementing or upgrading their websites, mobile apps, ATM user interfaces, or self-service kiosks. For others, 2016 could be a year of refining what’s already in place to create a seamless omnichannel customer experience.

BACK-END PRIORITIES

person-621045_640A Culture of Service Delivery Excellence

The internal culture of a bank, at the corporate level and at each individual branch, spells the difference between success and failure. Continuous employee training & coaching initiatives support the creation and maintenance of this culture. Customer service is ultimately about people; having the right people in the right roles with the right skills and attitude will set the stage for excellent service delivery.

Legacy Systems 

Are your hands tied by the limitations of your back-end hardware or software? Are there internal policies, procedures, or practices that are getting in the way of, or at least not promoting, cross-department communication and collaboration? These are potential roadblocks that need to be addressed. System upgrades and remodels may be costly and time-consuming, but staying in the comfort zone of what you already have in place isn’t going to do you any favors, either.

Security

Part of inspiring customer loyalty and confidence comes from your efforts to assure customers that their personal information is in safe hands. Bank hacks make headlines and leave consumers skittish about the wisdom of using the digital tools and interfaces referenced above, no matter how convenient or snazzy they may be. With so much at stake, you can’t afford not to prioritize security.

BARLoyalty3Bottom line: Use the tools at your disposal.

Voice of the Customer data and Benchmarking Analysis reports work together to consolidate an image of the current state of your institution, inside and out. If you’re looking for areas of opportunity, this is where you’ll find them – right at your fingertips!

 

You don’t have to face the New Year alone. Contact us by email or call (800) 841-7954 ext:101 to talk to one of our experts about your customer experience goals for 2016 and what support you may need to reach them.