CSP Happenings





Topic: Customer Service Experience

Omni-Channel Customer Satisfaction: 3 Channels Shaping Your Brand

July 27, 2021

When executives and directors of financial institutions think of their brand, it’s easy to think of the people who make up your organization, your core values, and the mission of your organization.

However, this internally perceived brand reputation can be very different from the way current and potential customers perceive your brand. Most notably, the various channels you use to interact with your customers have a profound impact on the way they think of your organization as a whole. Consider the following pieces when thinking about your various channels and your brand reputation.

In-Branch

Your branch setup and customer experiences within your branch locations are huge factors in how individuals perceive your brand. In particular, younger audiences (Millennials and Gen Z) may be looking for deeper consultation on their finances beyond basic utilities such as accounts and loans. In particular, they may be seeking out creative solutions such as budgeting tools and financial planning resources, and your financial institution’s ability and willingness to align resources can deepen your organization’s relationship with customers. Additionally, universal bankers can help create a seamless experience that makes your financial institution’s brand feel helpful and consultative.

Digital

When customers interact with your financial institution’s online account dashboard, they’re looking for a highly functional, airtight experience where they can communicate clearly, have transactional actions at their fingertips to best utilize their accounts, and ideally have additional resources such as budgeting calculators and other types of tools to improve their financial lives and help them make better sense of their finances.

Think about ways you can improve this element of your brand, particularly in terms of partnerships with FinTech organizations in order to improve your digital offerings and create a more robust relationship with your customers and their financial wellbeing. Anything you can do to help improve their financial lives in the form of budgeting, financial planning and security goes a long way toward deepening your relationship and improving your brand’s perception in their eyes.

Mobile

Increasingly, mobile is becoming a primary channel of interaction between customers and their financial institutions. Ensuring your mobile app is highly functional at every touchpoint, that updates are useful and succinct, and that your layout is easy to digest and use will all go a long way toward customers’ perceptions of your brand as a whole.

Additionally, think about ways you can utilize text and chat functions to optimize customers’ mobile experiences. Quick fraud alerts can be a useful way to text with customers to ensure unusual purchases are actually theirs, and your chat function can help them address any issues that arise while they’re on the go.

Customer Satisfaction: 5 Key Benefits to Over-Delivering For Your Customers



Financial institutions who fall short on customer experience tend to lack a sophisticated and well-defined plan for improving customer experience. More importantly, this lack of organization is typically due to a lack of conviction about the efficacy of customer experience improvements.

Customer experience is about so much more than a vague, happy sentiment a customer may or may not feel after an interaction with your financial institution. Customer experience directly correlates with your bottom line, creates a stronger financial foundation for your customers’ lives and opens the door for opportunities for your employees. Consider these five key benefits of taking your customer experience seriously and over-delivering for your customers:

Increased Revenue and Profit

Arguably most importantly for your organization, customer experience directly correlates to your bottom line. Your net promoter score directly aligns with other customer actions such as your likeliness to retain them, your ability to cross-sell products, and the overall profitability of your relationship with that individual.

Happy Customers

As a financial institution, your organization plays a role in the stress (or lack thereof) of your customers’ financial lives. Finances are a leading source of stress among Americans, and your ability to serve as a partner can alleviate that stress and even put customers on a long-term path toward financial prosperity through small, meaningful and sustainable improvements. Think about ways you can marginally help customers in order to improve their overall financial lives.

Increased Customer Base and Referrals

By establishing a base of happy customers, you’ve created the best advertising tool available: organic, enthusiastic promoters of your brand who tell their friends and family about your services. Creating a body of satisfied customers can create a positive snowball effect to help your organization sustainably grow and expand to additional branches and geographies.

Growth Opportunities for Employees

By creating an environment that focuses on customer experience, you can create a plethora of opportunities for your employees. Most notably, financial institutions that deliver on customers experience tend to employ universal bankers, or jack-of-all-trades staff who are able to perform a wide variety of tasks and create a singular, more streamlined experience for customers.

By training universal bankers, you open your staff up to new opportunities for skill acquisition and career growth, which both increases their value to your organization while helping your organization retain staff for longer.

Attractiveness to FinTech Organizations

If your organization does a good job of fine-tuning your customer experience, you set yourself up as an enticing prospect for FinTech organizations to partner with you. By creating a positive CX culture, FinTech organizations anticipate a higher probability of success in a partnership with you, and are more inclined to proactively reach out to your organization for mutually beneficial business plans and partnerships. Attracting talented FinTech organizations opens your organization up to all sorts of new possibilities for technology and improved customer experience.

3 Ideas for FinTech Partnerships



FinTech partnerships are incredibly valuable tools. Rather than taking on the responsibility and burden of understanding an intricate sub-element of your business environment, such as security or sophisticated customer data analysis, you can partner with an organization to take that burden off your hands and find mutually beneficial ways for both of your organizations to benefit and profit.

Consider the following ideas for a FinTech partnership for your organization.

A FinTech Partner’s Budgeting App

A budgeting app is an incredibly useful way to take your customers’ data, bring a partner on board to utilize that data, and then shape/cut that information in a way that brings an added value and utility to your customers.

Customers are looking for financial institutions to be more consultative in their relationship with customers, rather than serving as a simple utility for storing and transferring finances. By bringing a FinTech partner on board to help develop a budgeting app, you show customers you’re able to not just store their financial lives, but to help them become more savvy and goal-oriented with their finances.

With a budgeting tool, your organization and a FinTech partner can create monthly targets, develop long-term savings goals, and “gamify” the entire experience to help keep customers on track.

A FinTech Org’s Advanced Analytics for Targeted Ads and Loan Pre-Approval

By accessing and analyzing your customers’ financial lives on an individual level, your financial institution can streamline the approval process for different types of accounts and loans as well as send the targeted ads or offers promoting these opportunities.

Consider a FinTech partnership to put this process in place for your organization. A FinTech organization can provide the underlying analytical tools needed to harvest customer data, analyze it, and use it to create a targeted offer. Additionally, a FinTech organization can build the funnel to take that same customer from initial click on an ad all the way to being set up with a new account or loan.

A Partner in Security

There are numerous advantages to a FinTech partnership in security; namely, the following:

  • Evolving digital landscape. The landscape of digital security is constantly shifting and improving to address new cyber threats and make use of new analytics and technology. The biggest advantage of a FinTech partner for security is the ability to “export” your organization’s need to keep up with these trends. By finding a FinTech partner, you’ve onboarded an expert organization who can constantly explore and implement new techniques to keep your customers’ finances safe.
  • Customer communication. Having a streamlined process in place for notifying customers of fraud can be challenging, especially when it comes to making sure you’re reaching out and following up with them through numerous channels until fraud issues are resolved. A FinTech partner can guide your strategy through text, mobile and digital communication.
  • Compliance. A third party can make your organization’s compliance with security requirements streamlined and relieve your organization of a major responsibility. General data protection regulations, digital identity laws and card payment regulations can all be managed by a FinTech organization you parter with.

Universal Bankers: 3 Ways Your Organization Can Be Effective

June 29, 2021

Universal banking is a tried and true method of developing traditional tellers and process-focused staff into organizational consultants with a wide-reaching breadth of knowledge and abilities to serve customers.

These jack-of-all-trades banking staff members can meet a customer, learn about their unique needs, and address a wide range of requests, from loan applications, to account openings to helping troubleshoot your financial institution’s app.

However, the wide-reaching ability of these individuals is developed by deliberate training, incentives, and retention, and can fall short if the upfront effort isn’t put in. Consider the following ways you can improve your universal banking staff and make them truly effective.

Improve Training

Simply put, a universal banker only becomes effective through constant and effective training. Take a step back and look at the efficacy of your organization’s staff, and how well they’re actually able to execute a wide range of activities.

The natural tendency for organizations and individuals is to find something they’re good at, and then focus on that activity, becoming somewhat siloed in their capabilities, but extremely effective at those same activities.

In order to overcome this, your organization needs to constantly train, re-train and refresh staff on the diverse skill sets they need to know, especially with those skills that become rusty after not applying them for some time.

How-to sessions, Q&A opportunities to discuss nuances and a regular calendar of both intense learning as well as “refresher” sessions can help your universal banking staff deliver on its promise of an effective yet wide-reaching set of skills and greater customer satisfaction.

Create A System That Rewards

A major part of your organization’s success depends on your staff’s will and desire to continuously improve and acquire new skills necessary for universal bankers. Consider ways you might be able to encourage this learning. In particular, financial incentives such as bonuses, appreciation posts, and creating a “gamified” module of learning and checkpoints can create a road map for your staff to follow as they become more wide-reaching and effective employees.

Similarly, once staff demonstrate proficiency in a skill, create a system that has them regularly teaching that skill and refreshing it to others in order to keep them sharp and spread knowledge they have about the nuances of their role’s diverse skill set.

Communicate Results

Most importantly, your staff needs to understand the importance and end result of their effort to become effective universal bankers. If your staff is trained well, customer experience scores should follow and put you at a competitive advantage. Make sure to communicate these results to your staff so they understand how their efforts are making your organization better, and how that improvement impacts your bottom line.

4 Banking Tech Trends Becoming Mainstays



In 2021, banking technology that was once at the forefront and considered exploratory is quickly proving its mettle, becoming adopted by a wider audience, proving profitable for financial institutions, and improving the overall customer experience.

Consider the following when thinking about your overall digital suite, and how you can effectively incorporate the following four features into your existing platform.

Mobile-First Solutions

Increasingly, customers want the ability to conduct activities on-demand, on their own time. The most fundamental example of time-saving, customer-controlled online banking is the mobile deposit, which has become near-universal in recent history.

Now, customers want this same format applied to other aspects of their banking – loan approvals and account openings have largely become possible through do-it-yourself online processes, often on mobile, or otherwise on your financial institution’s website. Continue to work on these solutions in order to continue to please customers and give them the power to interact with your organization autonomously.

Open APIs

With so many technology trends simultaneously happening in the financial world, your organization needs a way to outsource the exploration and development of that technology. Simply put, utilizing an open API, an interface that is standardized to allow FinTech organizations to utilize your data in unique ways, has become the best way to “open yourself up” to technological innovation.

By creating the underlying framework for your data to be accessible (yet secure) and easily manipulated, third-party players can develop unique value propositions that open up revenue opportunities for them while better serving your customers. These win-win opportunities will continue to influence technological innovation and adoption.

Sophisticated AI

Customer service has seen an evolution: First, humans conducted all customer service requests, generally to a satisfactory degree. Then, AI chatbots offered a way to reduce expenditure, but also resulted in a lot of dissatisfaction and general ineffectiveness. Now, chatbots have become more sophisticated in the way they can interact with customers, offering an improved experience and a seamless transition to an actual human if the task at hand isn’t panning out. Make sure your organization is utilizing this newest, most sophisticated iteration of AI to improve the customer experience.

Customer-Centric Offers

Rather than focusing on the technology itself, we’re seeing financial institutions utilize tech learnings to create a better overall customer experience. Recently, Ally Bank announced it will be ending overdraft fees, marking a major change from a practice that has become a mainstay of banking revenue and operations.

Moves such as these challenge the status quo, and making financial institutions consider what else is possible and how the customer experience can be improved. Customer-centricity has other ways of manifesting through technology as well, such as customized offers in the form of ads or offers based on your customers’ unique financial records. Consider ways you can utilize the information available to you to improve the customer experience through technology.

5 Ways To Put Your Customers At Your Organization’s Core



Many financial institutions think about technology first, trying to roll out the most sophisticated and elaborate suite of technology they can muster. Despite this, they sometimes fail to engage their customers in a meaningful way because their customers were never the focal point of that technology in the first place.

Pre-existing services, the status quo, a well-intentioned focus on technology, and overwhelm due to change all distract from a truly customer-centric financial institution. Take these steps with your executive and management team, and consider these five ways you can encourage a customer-focused mindset to permeate throughout your organization.

Listen and Prescribe

When interacting with your financial institution, most individuals will have a specific need in mind, whether it’s a type of account they’re looking for, a finance issue they need solved, or a technological tool that could improve their life.

By actively listening and understanding their needs, rather than trying to push a generic sales pitch on them, comprehending what type of product, service or solution your customer is seeking will help understand the choices they make and how to best interact with them.

Understand All Paths

Every organization functions with a multitude of customer journeys. Think about different ways to map them out and understand every single interaction your customers have with your brand.

How do they learn about new products and services? How do they access information you provide? What third parties do they use? Understanding the learning process gives your organization a say in this process, where you can inform, provide value, and make a pitch for your own products.

Create an Advanced Profile of Your Customer

As an organization, your should be working to quickly build a strong rapport and understand of the intricacies of your customers’ lives, particularly in terms of their financial situations, and how you can best serve those needs. What is the economic circumstance of your customer? What is their rental/mortgage like? What are their unique financial needs? Understanding these circumstances will dictate the way they interact with your products and services, and make you a more sophisticated service provider.

Develop Trust With Customers

Make sure your employees focus on providing value first, and selling second. While your staff is trained to execute a number of tasks and to promote your services, their number one priority should be helping your customers or potential customers. Active listening, laser focus on the issue at hand, and creative problem solving are all the most important skills your staff should focus on, while viewing your products and services as tools to resolve customer needs. Sometimes, customer needs won’t result in immediate financial benefit for your organization. This is okay, and should be encouraged — your employees should be more focused on relationship building than on creating a transaction in the moment.

Teach Soft Skills

Specific coaching around useful behaviors will make a world of difference in differentiating your organization and creating an environment that treats customers like gold. Make sure your staff is focused on providing value, and that they have the tools necessary to do so. Beyond educating them about your products and services, you should focus on training soft skills like active listening, establishing a more robust financial background, cross-training to encourage use of the universal banker, and leveraging resources to come up with creative solutions.

Gut Check: How Strong Is Your Digital Presence?

May 26, 2021

If mobile-first banking was already underway, Covid-19 simply accelerated the trend. Moving into the future, this piece of your business is an absolute must to have rock solid. Consider the following to make sure your digital transformation is mature and prepared for the future.

Establish Your Digital Leadership

Any successful financial institution should have a formalized digital leadership team whose sole focus is on your organization’s digital presence. Increasing numbers of interactions and touchpoints occur in a digital space, and it’s important these moments are viewed as meaningful interactions with your brand. Functionality, innovation and customer centricity should all be core tenets this leadership team is working to achieve.

Additionally, this leadership team should be able to mobilize and engage your other employers to think in a digital-first way. They should be able to identify the capabilities of your staff to embrace your digital brand, while also knowing when you need to hire a third-party expert, such as a programming or data analytics team to help your organization with short-term transitions and initiatives.

Make Yourself Agile

Your financial institution should be constantly evolving and improving. Establishing an API to embrace open banking is a great start. Additionally, your organization should have a team in place to regularly maintain, improve and research innovations for your mobile app and digital presence. Regularly planning for app updates and regularly rolling out new innovative ways to make the best use of your customers’ data will keep your client base strong and encourage a spirit of constant improvement within your organization.

Focus on the Customer Experience First

Technology should be a means to an end, and that means your organization needs to illustrate what a positive customer experience looks and feels like, and then make sure your digital presence is fulfilling those promises. For example, if your organization is striving for a true omni-channel experience that is seamless for your customers, you should start customer journey mapping different scenarios and exploring how that omni-channel experience truly plays out. By diving into the nuts and bolts of the customer experience, your leadership team will be able to identify concrete and specific ways to improve the technology proving the framework for the overall customer experience.

Fine-Tuning Your Universal Banker Staff



By now, your organization likely knows that having a staff of universal bankers offers your organization more flexibility in terms of staffing, creates more career fulfillment by providing opportunities, and most importantly, creates a better customer experience by enabling one continuous interaction to serve customer needs.

With all of these benefits in mind, you should think about ways you can enhance and support your universal banker staff. Consider the following ways to improve and reinforce your universal bankers.

Invest in Training

One of the most important elements of a universal banker staff is training, and as a director, you should continue to invest time and money into training for numerous reasons.

  • Keeping skills fresh. By nature, your universal banker staff will be less specialized than typical employees. Naturally, various staff members will develop strengths and weaknesses. By providing regular training on new and existing skills, you can help keep skills sharp and increase staff’s confidence in executing those skills.
  • Creating a forum for experiences. Even with comprehensive training, there are likely gaps in your informative sessions, or perhaps missing nuances that your universal banker staff will understand more intimately. Ongoing training sessions create an opportunity for your staff to share their experiences and explain the subtle details of the big ideas you’re trying to execute.
  • Enhancing camaraderie. Universal bankers need to function in an interdependent way, especially when questions related to different skill sets arise on the job. Universal bankers also require more training to get up-to-speed after hire, so newer bankers will be more reliant on experienced staff. By creating training sessions, you create a greater bond among your staff and will encourage your team to support each other on the floor.
Leverage Growth to Retain

Maintaining a universal banker staff requires an ongoing acquisition and mastery of skills. Think about ways you can chart the progress of your employees to demonstrate their growth, and make sure you find a way to reward that growth as well.

Importantly, you want to make your staff reflect on the positive growth they’ve made and the new skills they’ve acquired, rather than make them feel micro-managed by creating a report card of all the skills they’re expected to learn. Make sure you’re highlighting their growth in a positive way, demonstrate the way that growth is enhancing their careers and skill sets, and offer ongoing praise for that growth.

Share Success

Sometimes as bank directors, it’s easy to be so process-oriented that you forget about why you begin a program in the first place. For example, a universal banking staff is typically implemented to improve customer experience and drive revenue.

In that sense, if customer experience metrics are improving, show that success to your staff! They’ll be delighted to know how their efforts are paying off, and if possible, any sort of bonuses tied to customer experience improvement can be highly motivating.

The Dimensions of Your Digital Offerings



Digital offerings, whether mobile or online, are created with the intention to enhance the customer experience, bring customers closer with your brand, and develop a richer atmosphere for everyday consumers to address their financial lives.

Sometimes, when thinking about the digital experience, it’s easy to get carried away with brainstorming new features, somehow convincing ourselves that the financial institution with the highest number of features wins. Obviously, this isn’t true, but it raises the question: What elements of a digital experience truly improve customers’ lives? Think about the following when you refine and improve your digital offerings.

Ease of Use

More than anything, your digital offering should be simple. Think about the most important tasks, and how you can guarantee success.

As an example, think about your mobile deposit process. Are customers consistently able to make mobile deposits? What safeguards do you have in place to ensure the check is captured accurately? What percentage of photos taken result in a successfully deposited check?

While it may seems tedious and even obsessive to analyze a single task in a mobile app with such granularity, the reality is that anything less than an almost-every-time consistency can lead to pain points, causing customers to mistrust your mobile deposit process and potentially seek out other venues, or even other financial institutions.

Focus on perfecting the basics in order to impress and retain customers.

Innovation

Exploring and creating new features can help give your financial institution a competitive edge. In particular, when thinking about innovation, think about what your customers are demanding most. Do you have feedback about their biggest desires and wishes from your digital presence? If not, try to gather data to inform your organization of their needs, and then work to deliver on them, putting the customer wishes at the center of your innovation.

Notably, new tools like budgeting calculators, unique payment processing and enhanced security features can help separate you from your competitors and differentiate your brand according to prospective customers.

Partnerships

The quickest and easiest way to streamline your digital customer experience is through partnerships. FinTech organizations, whether focusing on security, payment processing or budgeting tools, all are reliant on your financial institution in order to build a large customer base for their technology.

In this sense, make sure you leverage your position in order to bring them on board, and excite your customers with enhanced digital performance. Rather than trying to build innovation and customer experience from the ground up, let a separate organization streamline the process for you.

Demands of a Universal Banker in 2021

April 27, 2021

The Universal Banker, a jack-of-all-trades financial services representative who is trained in a wide variety of tasks, has never been more relevant than now.

Transformational technology, omni-channel experiences, complex financial situations, an evolving branch, and a highly competitive customer experience landscape all add to this relevance.

When training your banking staff to be as knowledge-diversified as possible, consider the following:

Understanding Technology

Your banking staff needs to know your mobile app inside and out, and better yet, should be able to take a customer’s phone and manually show them the ropes. Increasingly, banking customers will be chatting online, calling, or coming into a branch to understand how to best utilize the technology your organization provides.

Beyond your mobile app, consider budgeting tools your organization has on-hand. Make sure your staff understands how to best utilize those tools so that your customers can have meaningful experiences with the resources you’re spending money putting into their hands. Additionally, make sure your banking staff has a way to report common pain points so that you can regularly improve online experiences.

Providing a Cohesive Experience

If you don’t already, make sure your universal banking staff has a useful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool at their disposal. In particular, when a customer comes in, your universal banking staff should be able to understand recent transaction history, their overall profile, and be able to pick up where the customer left off, even if their last touchpoint wasn’t with a human (ie an online task).

By creating a fluent experience, customers feel understood, and more importantly, feel like their time is utilized efficiently.

Complex Problem Solving and Resource Allocation

Historically, branch visits have largely been transactional – opening accounts, making deposits and conducting transfers. However, with many of these processes now available online, customers visiting branches will likely have more complex questions.

Make sure your staff is prepared. Understand some of the common requests, whether they are identifying errors that have happened online, looking for complex financial instruments to meet their business needs, issuing concerns about their online security or understanding how your financial institution intersects with any government-based entities such as the IRS.

Complex topics likely have complex answers, and you need to make sure your universal banker staff is well equipped to navigate these conversations and provide meaningful guidance to customers.

Evolving With the Branch

Most financial institutions are re-thinking their branch format, including making the environment more casual, opening up to financial consulting and providing self-serve kiosks in-branch.

With constant change, your universal banker staff needs constant training on not only new structures, but how to implement them effectively, and how those changes are intended to create a better user experience for your customers.