In 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)
“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 Vorhauser–Smith 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…)