CSP Happenings

Topic: Customer Service Experience

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.


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.


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.

Covid-19 and Financial Recovery

2020 was a difficult year for business owners, employees and the entire financial world. Beyond the public health crisis ensuing from Covid-19, the economic engine of the world was hampered by restrictions limiting interpersonal interaction.

Now, in 2021, your new and existing customers are dealing with the the effects of this economic lag, even as restrictions continue the lighten through 2021. As a financial institution, you should view this as an opportunity to truly serve your customers, help them through a difficult time, and creating a lasting impression that will differentiate your organization.

Varying Effects of Covid-19

From a financial perspective, Covid-19 produced a wide array of financial effects on various industries. While e-commerce survived and even thrived in many cases, restaurants and airlines were hit hard. These effects trickle down to employees and had a similarly varying effect, ranging from bonuses to layoffs and economic hardship. Needless to say, the health effects of Covid-19 have devastated some families, and while the situation is improving, it is, unfortunately, not over.

Think about these unique scenarios and the different economic and mental trials your customers may be experiencing. Each situation is different, and you will need to make sure your universal banker staff are well-equipped to navigate not only the various financial situations of your customers, but also help navigate what could be tense emotional states.

Loss Protection

Many individuals are still struggling financially, and may be behind on bills, mortgages, business expenses or credit card payments. As their financial institution, consider your role as a proactive partner in helping them avoid financial crises.

Anything your organization can do to come up with flexibility of payment plans, forgiveness and allocating resources to help will go a long way toward showing your customers you’re committed to them in a way that will likely gain lifelong loyalty.

Being a Trusted Partner

In a time when there is a lot of anxiety around finances, some individuals carry that anxiety toward their financial institutions. Additionally, that anxiety can even turn to animosity as money becomes tight.

Try to differentiate yourself from the pack by positioning yourself less as an enforcing body, and more as a helpful consultant. Try to align yourself with your customers, and let them know you’re on their side, and want them to be in a financially healthy position.

Importantly, make sure your organization is identifying common scenarios of financial trouble, and have systems in place to address those issues.

For example, if your customers are behind on business loan payments, have a plan to address the issue, possibly restructure the payment plan, and come up with win-win scenarios. Once those plans are in place, make sure your staff is well educated on those topics and can present solutions to customers as they arise.

Humanizing Banking Customer Experience

When the professional world, both in terms of financial services and beyond, thinks of customer experience, certain catch phrases come to mind: omni-channel experience, budgeting tools, and your mobile app’s interface.

However, how often is your customer experience truly focused on human interaction? When most organizations map out their customer journeys, there are many non-human touch points. Online investigation, product reviews, using your organization’s mobile app and conducting background research are all familiar touch points which, notably, don’t feel inherently “human.”

Because of this, your organization needs to think about how you can leverage a human touch to differentiate you from the anonymous world of online marketing. Consider the following when thinking about your customer experience.

Evolved Banking Branches

Branches will continue to evolve in different ways as banks and financial institutions look to improve and meet customer expectations. At the center of this change will be customer-centricity and a model that adopts to changing technology.

Notably, branches will focus less on transactional activities that will largely be conducted online by customers (transfers, deposits, etc.) and focus more on selling and explaining new products and services.

Additionally, branches will become education centers for online financial tools. As organizations enhance partnerships with FinTech companies, they will have a vested interest in making sure customers get the most out of these budgeting tools, and that they can use them in a truly impactful way.

Finally, branches may change their models to solicit more casual foot traffic. Similar to Capital One 360 Cafes, there may be an increased tendency to resemble a coffee shop, where banking activities are simply an option, rather than a given, when someone enters the branch location.

Sophisticated AI Mixed With Real People

Another way your financial institution can humanize your customer experience is by creating a smooth transition between AI and genuine human interaction. AI is being used in sophisticated and unique ways, such as leveraging customer data to create personalized offers, or starting customer assistance conversations with a chatbot.

By creating a seamless transition from chatbot to employee representative, for example, you increase customer satisfaction and openness to that type of chatbot functionality in the future. Similarly, you honor both your employees’ time as well as your customers’.

Financial Consultation

Millennials and Gen Z think of their finances (ie their checking/savings accounts and financial institution) and their financial wellbeing in the same light. With the abundance of tools financial institutions offer, customers both maintain their finances largely through an online or mobile portal, and analyze their finances in the same place.

Through this combination of storing and analyzing, there is a unity between financial transactions and financial wellbeing. Additionally, online tools can only go so far to truly address an individuals complex financial picture. With this in mind, your financial institution should utilize your relationship with customers to open up opportunities for you to serve as customers’ financial advisor.

By serving as an advisor, you can deepen your relationship with customers, utilize their data in a truly sophisticated way, and moving forward, you can synchronize your financial consulting with the development and enhancement of your online platform.

Proactively Reach Out To Customers

March 30, 2021

Too often, financial institutions position themselves as background utilities, ready when you need them, but often failing to engage customers on a regular basis. In order for your financial institution to be top of mind and constantly deepening relationships with customers, you need to be proactive in your communication.

Think about the following ways you can re-engage customers to create a dynamic, mutually beneficial relationship.

Timely Offers

Your organization should be leveraging customer data to make timely offers about your other products and services. For example, your Millennial customers are in a prime age demographic for buying homes. As such, your organization should utilize customer data such as balances, income and credit score, find ways to pre-approve your customers for mortgages, and find eye-grabbing ways to communicate this to them.

The most important message to convey when reaching out with proactive offers is the value you can bring to customers. Rather than creating a spammy ad, try to create messaging that can resonate with your customers. Think about their life situations, their values, and the way your product or service can help fit into their vision of the best version of their lives.

Important Information

In the era of Covid-19, the financial world changes at a moment’s notice. This is especially true of varying interest rates, moratoriums on rent and mortgages and stimulus checks. As a financial institution, you’re the expert on these topics, and you likely know more about these topics than 99% of your customers.

If you have that information, share it! Think about how you can digest and explain complex pieces of legislation in a way that will resonate with your customers. Make sure they understand what they’re entitled to, and how you’re working in their benefit.

Customers need a liaison for changes in the financial world, and when most average people think of the financial world, they view it through the lens of personal finance and their relationship with their financial institutions.

Security Alerts

Security alerts are not only necessary to make customers aware of potential issues, but also to reinforce the fact that you are constantly looking out for customers’ best interests. In 2021, financial institutions are focused on security as a top issue, and it’s important that your customers know what enhancements you’re making to protect their finances.

Beyond issues, reach out proactively with ways they can help protect and reinforce the security of their finances to avoid problems and headaches in the future.

Valuable New Features

When your digital team rolls out a new iteration of your app, a website update, or a new budgeting tool, let your customers know about it. More importantly, make them understand it and find utility in it as quickly as possible. For example, when they open the app, have pop-up windows that can explain new features in 60 seconds or less. By presenting them with immediate utility and ease of use, you’ll impress your customers and reinforce the idea that you’re able to provide them with value without burdening them with a steep learning curve.

Recognize Multiple Customer Journeys

As a financial institution, you offer a variety of services and products, ranging from business loans to the value derived from your personal banking mobile app. Each facet of your organization – the people, the technology, the unique value propositions – serves as a unique reason a customer might seek out your organization.

In this sense, you should recognize and strategize around the various reasons a new customer might seek out your organization. For example, a local business owner who walks into your branch location seeking a business loan is going to have a very different perception of your organization from a college student who applies for a checking account after clicking on a banner ad.

Each customer journey is unique, and contains unique desires, preconceptions, motivations and life circumstances. In order to better acquire new customers, look closely at your existing customer base to understand the paths that led them to you, and how you can tailor that journey in the future.

Create an Initial Win

If addressing the entire customer journey for a variety of paths feels too daunting, start with the initial acquisition phase. Understand the motivations customers have to work with your organization, and think about each unique product/service someone might want to work with you, as well as what that person looks like.

Then, deliver on that first phase. If a tech-resistant older customer is looking for a banking app they can understand, make sure your app is air tight. If a local business is looking for a loan, understand and address FAQs around the topic. Think about how you can “wow” new customers who want to do business with you, and create an early win that will put a good taste in their mouths to deepen their relationship with your financial institution.

Solidify the Relationship

After initially creating an early with with a new customer, think about ways you can broaden and deepen your relationship with them. Sometimes, simple actions can go a long way. If an individual just opened a checking and savings account, ask them about their use of the mobile app, and if they have any questions. If your team helps an individual with a mortgage, ask them if they have questions about the home buying process.

Some of these activities don’t have a direct return on investment, but signify your desire to create a deeper, more meaningful and productive relationship, where you serve as an unofficial consultant for your customers.

Additionally, you should be making an effort to align your brand with their everyday lives. Think about products like budgeting tools, where your organization can help play a role in customers’ financial organization and wellbeing. Growing your involvement with them ensures the longevity and value of your relationship, and can help create an active promoter of your brand.

Manage Your Customer Relationship

March 23, 2021

In order to satisfy your customers, you need to know them, and in order to know them intimately, you need to gather, record and make available as much information about them as possible.

How are you currently managing your relationships with your customers? What do you know about them? How accessible is that knowledge, and can your universal banker staff easily make sense of it? Think about the following data points in terms of ways to better understand your customers and improve your relationship with them.


The background of your customers – things like housing, income, and age – can help start to frame a picture of who they are. As an example, age can point you in the right direction of certain technology behaviors, and the more background info you have on your customers, the better.

In particular, understanding their overall economic status and income level, along with major purchases or loans, can help give your organization a better idea of the type of consumer they are, and where you can best meet their needs.

As an example, an affluent individual with multiple children in their 30s may have extremely different priorities from an individual at a similar income level, but in their 50s and without children. Loans, savings, and ways their money is spent will likely vary between these two individuals, and affect the types of offers they’ll perceive as most valuable.

The richness of the background information can help you gain a more granular perspective on their likely behaviors and how they want to work with your organization.

Security History

You should have a catalog of any security issues individuals customers have experienced. What pain points has this individual experienced in the past year? Make sure to build out a detailed log of security issues, password resets and general customer behavior.

This history log can help in multiple ways: you can understand their behavior and preferences in order to better help protect their security moving forward, and you can make sure your customer support staff have context for any past issues or frustrations, which may arise again if the customer encounters future issues.

Account History

Make sure your universal banker staff understands the ways your customer has grown with your organization. This could include new accounts opened, inquiries, relationships on file with separate organizations, and any applications they’ve submitted.

Putting together these separate pieces can help point you in the right direction of future behavior and give you context for ways to deepen and expand your relationship with customers in ways that are useful to them.

Problem Solving for Customers

February 23, 2021

Financial institutions aren’t perfect. This harsh reality is especially difficult to accept when executives and directors work tirelessly to analyze every pain point, improve every point of contact, and regularly roll out new initiatives and offerings to improve the customer experience.

The regular rolling out of new initiatives should give us solace in this imperfection; after all, how can something be perfect if it is constantly changing and growing?

As a leader for your organization, you need to be agile enough to address these imperfections as they come up, and provide quick solutions. An obstacle a customer encounters doesn’t become a problem until your organization fails to resolve it. Consider the following when thinking about quick, efficient problem resolution for your customers moving forward.

Provide an Avenue for Feedback

One of the best things you can do to address customer problems is to offer them a place to give feedback. If something isn’t working for an individual customer, whether it be a bug in your mobile banking app or an issue they encounter at a branch, there is a high likelihood that other customers are experiencing the same thing.

As much as we hate to hear critical feedback, we should be grateful to those customers who speak up. These individuals are helping us correct our issues and directing our attention to pertinent problems free of charge. Encourage them to speak up and help your organization improve.

Provide an Internal Communication Chain

Hopefully your organization has some way for customers to communicate with a human directly. Typically, a chat feature on your website or mobile app helps facilitate this. If this is in place, does the conversation stop once the chat ends, or does your organization have the infrastructure and communication chain to address systemic problems articulated at an individual level?

Ideally, your organization or a partner should be able to aggregate feedback, classify it into topics, and prioritize the most pressing issues customers are identifying for you. Make sure the individual universal bankers, chat support specialists and other feedback sources have a structure to not just collect customer feedback, but regularly act on it.

Enable Your Universal Bankers

Ultimately, customer issues arise due to your organization missing an issue or failing to anticipate a problem. This failure is simply a part of business, and only becomes greater issue when you aren’t able to rectify the problem.

Sometimes, these problems aren’t inherently straightforward. For example, a bug in your mobile app could take weeks to correct. In the meantime, if it’s preventing customers from performing an important task, their overall experience will continue to suffer.

Make sure your staff is empowered to paper over the cracks in the meantime. Give them the tools, access and training necessary to fix problems like these themselves in the short term while a long-term solution is developed. The timeliness of which you can resolve issues like these will resonate with your customers and leave them feeling happy you could fix their problem as quickly as possible.