CSP Happenings

Topic: Customer Service Experience

4 Strategies to Make Universal Bankers Effective

October 26, 2021

Most financial institutions have heard of and considered adding universal bankers to their staff. These jack-of-all-trades representatives fill the roles of both a teller and a personal banker, serving as a diversified representative who can handle a wide variety of requests and tasks in a variety of settings.

The benefit of the universal banker is clear: customers of your financial institution receive a consistent experience across their interaction with your financial institution. Rather than being transferred multiple times, having to re-state information they already told a prior representative, and any confusion that happens among these handoffs, an interaction with a single universal banker is seamless and consistent — and delivers high user experience scores, which drive your financial institution’s bottom line.

Despite these benefits, many financial institutions struggle to train, retain, and fully implement a universal banking staff. Consider these barriers and solutions when you think about your universal banker staff.

Making a Case

Sometimes, the biggest barrier to a successful universal banker staff can be internal resistance. Whether from floor staff or leadership, a universal banker threatens the status quo by challenging the siloed abilities of historically trained representatives. Furthermore, training a universal banker staff takes work.

If you’re able to successfully attribute universal bankers to customer experience scores (and attribute high customer experience stores to a stronger bottom line), you can make a strong case for building and growing this team.

Constant Training

Most positions at financial institutions include a short month-long or six-week training plan, where employees are learning the ropes and getting an understanding of their job duties. Simply put, the idea of training being “finalized” for universal bankers should be put to rest, and a mantra of continuous training should be adopted.

In order for universal bankers to be successful, they need to regularly learn and re-learn new skills, get updated with new iterations of internal technology, and constantly learn. By adopting an attitude of constant improvement, you can make your staff more flexible and develop a culture of innovation.

Retention of Skills

Perhaps the biggest challenge of the universal banker position is to avoid comfort zones and to retain a diverse set of skills. Make sure you have incentives in place for employees to continuously try new things and take on new challenges with customers in order to stay diversified and engrain a wide breadth of capabilities.

Additionally, mixing up staffing positions and partnerships helps employees learn from each other. Employees should regularly challenge each other to try new skills, or brush up on skills they’re a bit in experienced with.

By avoiding silos and sticking to the value add of the universal banker of providing a consistent experience (and single point person) for a customer, your staff will naturally challenge themselves and become more skillful and expansive employees.

Data Visualization and Enhanced CX: 3 Examples

August 24, 2021

When banking professionals think about topics such as personal finance, there are a series of logical arguments that come to mind, which serve as common, no-nonsense, universally accurate advice. For example, the idea of investing for retirement early in order to reap the benefits of compound interest is inarguably touted as sound financial advice, yet most Americans fail to act on this advice.

In this example, the argument isn’t flawed, but the way it’s presented is less than convincing.

Data visualization is an increasingly popular catchphrase in the financial world, and for good reason — customers are visual learners, and creating an image around their finances can help articulate financial advice better than most narratives. Consider these three examples of data visualization when you think about your customer experience strategy.

Mortgage Paydown

When looking at mortgages, many customers may be ignorant to the dynamic between the remaining balance and the way that affects their monthly principal versus interest payment, particularly in terms of the slow principal paydown early in their mortgage when their overall balance is still high.

By helping customers visualize this piece of information, you can help them understand when they can expect to have certain milestones in principal paid down, they can make long term plans, such as when they might be able to afford a new home, and you create a motivating narrative for them to make extra principal payments each year, if they choose to do so.

Savings Goals

Creating visualizations toward savings goals, such as a “thermometer” or jar to be filled, can create motivation and excitment around savings goals. Often, customers begin savings journeys with a goal that is genuinely exciting, such as a loan payoff resulting in freedom, a vacation resulting in relaxation, or the purchase of a new vehicle which serves as a functional symbol of hard work.

However, once customers are actually doing the hard work of saving, it’s easy to reduce these ambitious goals to monotonous monthly payments toward numbers on their online dashboard. Think about ways you can spice up these savings goal account pages in order to channel the excitement customers initially feel when they establish a goal.

Current and Prospective Monthly Budgets

Similar to savings goals, monthly budgets benefit heavily from relying on data visualizations. Consider a bar graph, with real spending by category positioned side-by-side with “goal” spending. By creating this visual, customers can quickly glance to understand what categories they’re spending responsibly in, and what categories are their weak points where they need more work.

By creating a visual, customers can absorb information quicker, and channel those images in the moment when they’re making a budget conscious decision, such as purchasing a gift or picking a dining destination.

5 Key Customer Experience Questions

By turning a spotlight on your organization’s customer experience strategy, you can begin to ask yourself hard questions around the efficacy of your customer experience strategy and, in turn, identify opportunities for improvement. Consider the following questions when looking for ways to improve your customer experience.

Is it Intuitive?

Consider your organization’s mobile app. How easy is it to navigate? Are there aspects multiple people have complained about not understanding? Does it need a tutorial, or can customers easily figure it out on their own? Questions such as these help not only identify weak points of your digital footprint, but also can point out areas that are functional but not yet high-performing.

This attitude applies to your organization as a whole, and questions around intuition should apply to anything from your website to the moment a customer steps inside your branch.

How Are You Deepening Your Customer Relationships?

Your organization’s ability to create unique, meaningful experiences is a huge point of differentiation and can be the difference between customer retention and attrition. Your organization should look at various customer journeys, such as opening a checking account or applying for a mortgage online, and think about ways you can make each experience easy, intuitive, and special in a way that humanizes your organization.

What Are Your Customers Like?

Understanding your customer base is essential to understanding your strengths and weaknesses as an organization, In many ways, your customers are a reflection of your organization. They choose you because they see something in your organization that reflects their needs. In this way, by truly understanding your customers, you can accentuate your strong points and better serve their needs. In particular, finding common threads among your customers, or identifying various segments of your customer base, can help you create a unique customer experience strategy tailored to each audience.

What Makes You Special As An Organization?

When marketing professionals talk about brand differentiation, they’re focused on things that make an organization unique and objectively better than their competitors. This idea of differentiation, combined with a personality to match, helps create your financial institution’s brand, and by thinking objectively about your strong points, you can often uncover who you truly are as an organization.

Accentuating your strong points often reveals the “make or break” factor that retains customers, it shows something unique you’ve done in a competitive landscape, and it creates a rallying point around which your organization fan focus and thrive.

What Are Your Weak Points?

What parts of your customer experience need the most work? Smoothing out your “edges” can be a huge differentiator. Even if your organization has 19 touchpoints that perform well for your customer experience, an abnormally bad “outlier” of a 20th touchpoint can take away from customer satisfaction as a whole.

In particular, focus on identifying and rectifying these outliers as quickly as possible to give your overall customer experience a boost and avoid pushing otherwise satisfied customers into a bad mental space.

4 Ways to Shift Your Internal Customer Experience Culture

When a financial institution undergoes a major shift toward improving customer experience, there is often talk around new initiatives, improved technology and an effort to work more efficiently as an organization.

All of these ideas are great, but it’s important to think of customer experience less as a short-term initiative, and more as a long-term internal cultural shift. The way you think about yourself as an organization permeates into your customer experience, and by creating the right internal culture, you can go above and beyond for your customers.

From Technology to People

First and foremost, technology must serve a means to an end, the end being an improved experience for the end user. Too often, organizations think about the newest and shiniest technology without thinking about how it will be applied, or how the technology will positively transform the customer experience.

Instead of thinking about technology, think about an area of customer experience that can be improved, particularly a pain point. For example, if customers are dissatisfied with their ability to budget, learn about how they categorize spending, how they want to view their budget, and then design or partner with a FinTech organization to find a budgeting tool to fit their needs.

From Disjointed to Fluid

Your organization should think about not only individual touchpoints, but the fluidity between those touchpoints when evaluating the overall efficacy of your customer experience strategy. When analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, most organizations will map out a customer journey, isolating touchpoints, and identifying weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. However, if the transition between each of those is difficult due to lack of information sharing within your organization, touchpoints can end up being less than a sum of their parts.

Think about your universal banker strategy and your omni-channel experience when considering the fluidity of the customer journey. The ability to easily transition from a phone conversation to a branch visit to a mobile app with customer data tracking the entire time across platforms should be easy and intuitive. Similarly, when your customers visit a branch, a universal banker should be able to usher them through the entire process.

From Utility to Consultant

Rather than thinking of your financial institution as a location for simple “utilities” like savings accounts and loans, you should work to serve a consultative role to your customers. Rather than simply providing security, your customers may be looking for education around ways to protect their livelihood. Similarly, rather than simply providing a picture of your customers’ finances, they may be looking for resources and tools to help them improve their budgeting. By making this mental switch, your organization deepens its relationship with customers and becomes a trusted partner.

From Vague to Measured

Most importantly, if your organization isn’t regularly measuring, evaluating and improving your customers experience across touchpoints, you won’t be able to sustain improved results. Consider using CSP’s Voice of the Customer plan to help measure, improve and reap the benefits of sustained customer experience improvement.

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.


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.


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.


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.