CSP Happenings

Topic: Customer Service Experience

Covid-19 and Financial Recovery

April 27, 2021

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.

Invisible Banking

February 22, 2021

When we think of our own financial institution, we think of active service, the inner-workings of our digital platform, and the countless ways we work to engage with customers and improve their experiences with our organization.

However, the reality for customers can be quite different. Customers might not think of your financial institution as being as top-of-mind as we might like. This is okay! Even though we want customers to actively think about our brands and organizations, the reality is that we can be more powerful as regular, invisible helpers in their everyday lives.

Instead of being an entity your customer thinks about, which requires energy, what if your organization strived to be a behind-the-scenes tool that helps them facilitate everything with ease? In this way, your organization can get out of the way, tangibly improve your customers’ lives and better integrate yourself with their day-to-day activities. Consider the following ways you can become an invisible ally.

Removing Friction In Customers’ Lives

Find ways as an organization to make your customers’ financial lives easier, creating seamless interactions at the point of purchase. Contactless payment systems, automated transactions, and quick approval of transactions to third party vendors are all useful ways you can streamline their activities. In situations like these, having your customers not think about your organization should be the goal. If they don’t, it means their activities that utilize your services are working perfectly.

Automating Budgeting through FinTech

Your organization should work closely with a FinTech partner to provide customers with a sophisticated, no-hassle budgeting tool that connects directly to their transaction history. Importantly, make sure your organization has infrastructure in place to solicit feedback about the tool and help your FinTech partner continuously modify and improve.

One of the most important elements of an online budgeting tool is its ability to simply work without a lot of manual input. How well does it automatically categorize transactions? Does it make note of how the user categorized a previous transaction? Asking questions like these and coming up with useful solutions can ensure your customers spend more time getting use out of your budgeting tools, and less time trying to understand them.

Streamlining New Offers

When a customer wants to engage with your organization through a new product or service, you need to be as ready as possible to make that process easy and rewarding. Whether it be opening up a new account, looking for help about a budgeting tool or looking to apply for a new loan, make sure your organization can do as much work on the back end as possible to take the load off of their plates.

In particular, actions like auto-populating their personal information, pre-approving them for loans, and giving your universal banker easy access to their finances and past interactions with your organization can all lead to an enhanced experience that values their time and helps your maximize the value you provide.


Your Branch Is Your Foundation for Gen Z

February 21, 2021

Though it might sound surprising, Gen Z is more likely to use branches than even Millennials.

This goes against common intuition. Aren’t Gen Z the most tech-fluent generation yet? Will they even want branches at all? The reality is their financial uncertainty, the evolution of the branch and the experiences they’re listening to and absorbing about personal finance, particularly from Millennials, are resonating with them and they’re taking their financial lives seriously. Consider the following ways your branch can serve Gen Z as in-person banking re-emerges in 2021.

Underlying Concerns Lead to Greater Branch Engagement

It must be stated: Covid disrupted in-person everything, and financial institution branches were no exception. With that said, public health experts are feeling cautiously optimistic about vaccination progress in 2021 and the re-emergence of in-person activities.

Pre-Covid, Gen Z was more engaged with branches than their Millennial counterparts. The reason? Gen Z is still laying the groundwork for their financial lives, and these preoccupations are a driving force behind them wanting to interact in-person. The ability to talk to a human being, gain context around their finances, learn about financial tools from a universal banker and the general will to get ahead in their financial lives all are underlying factors behind this trend.

As a financial institution, this is your chance. Think about the motivation driving an otherwise tech-preferential generation to go with a more “old school” in-person approach, and help provide a consultative hand to their personal finances.

Create a Lasting Relationship with a Consultative Approach

Think about the underlying concerns Gen Z customers are coming to your financial institution thinking about, and then have a plan to address them. In particular, think about:

Student loans. Gen Z has heard horror stories from Millennials about the crippling effects student loans can have on financial goals further into their lives. As a result, Gen Z is extremely debt-averse. Help them understand financing options and ways they can optimize their approach to paying back loans they take on.

Saving for a home. Gen Z has passively experienced the barriers their older counterparts have experienced regarding barriers to purchase a home, particularly in more expensive urban areas. Help them understand how their credit scores can help leverage financing, and help establish a long-term savings plan for them.

Retirement. While retirement might not be on most of Gen Z’s radar, the reality is that every dollar allocated now can go further for retirement than in the future. Help them understand the future value of a dollar invested today, and come up with plan to act on it.

The Branch Experience and Beyond

Many financial institutions are rethinking the branch experience, trying to create more of a coffee shop environment than a traditional bank, with the underlying motivation of creating a more approachable location that will be used casually and frequently. Capital One 360 Cafes are a prime example of this, and this type of approach can be a helpful tool to appeal to a younger generation.

Additionally, once Gen Z customers solicit your financial institution, make sure you have a digital plan in place to follow up. Find ways to follow up with them on their preferred platforms, give them ongoing education resources, and make sure they’re able to utilize helpful budgeting tools to ensure they continue to engage with your financial institution tomorrow and beyond.

2020’s Acceleration of Digital Transformation

January 26, 2021

The digital explosion of small, medium, and large financial institutions only accelerated in 2020 due to in-person restrictions from Covid-19. As a result, many organizations chose to make this a major focus, and the space evolved at a rapid pace, and it’s important your organization takes stock to see where the industry is headed, and how you can make sure your digital presence is competitive. Here are a few trends to consider for your financial institution this year:

Data Visualization for Internal Use

More customer data is available than ever before. On one hand, this data is being made available to the customer in the form of budgeting dashboards. Showing customers information like mortgage amortizations, projected retirement cashflows and recommendations for how they can tweak their budgets are all coming in full force. Similarly, financial institutions are beginning to become more savvy at customer-specific ad recommendations and making major decisions based off customer segments.

However, another area of opportunity lies in quick, real-time education of financial institutions’ staff based on individual customers. Having an abundance of customer information available is only useful if it can be processed and applied in real-time to help aid customer interaction. Financial institutions should focus on making pertinent information about customers easy to identify for their universal bankers. Converging disparate financial pieces (loans, mortgages, monthly expenditures, changes in spending habits) in succinct ways enables universal bankers to inquire, document, and recommend solutions based on an individual’s complex financial picture.

Enhanced Support Amid Open Banking and APIs

The future of FinTech and banking is both clear and uncertain in terms of its trajectory. There is certainty in the idea of tech disruption in financial services, open banking and the sharing of customer information to third parties to add value and create opportunity. However, the specific way these FinTech organizations will impact financial services, and which services/products will offer the most value, remains uncertain. The good news is that financial institutions don’t need to identify the major impact players in this space yet, they simply need to open themselves to these opportunities. Making APIs available to third parties opens the door for “passive” innovation by letting third party tech companies apply your financial institution’s data with their own platforms. Simply put, the time to develop and provide an API to third parties is now in order to be on the front end of coming financial services innovations.

Enhanced Visual Interactions in Banks

Bank and credit union branches feel somewhat enigmatic at the moment. On one hand, consumers are conducting an increasing amount of the bank activity online and through mobile, taking some attention off of bank branches. On the other hand, this puts extra pressure on branch visits to leave a lasting impression and create a customer loyalty bond that is more difficult to do online or with mobile.

The increased use of kiosks give customers an opportunity to self service in ways that are proven to improve customer satisfaction when applied correctly. Additionally, visual screen displays allow for a flexible medium to tap into local events, culture and create a bond that extends beyond a transaction and attempts to form a deeper bond with customers. These factors, combined with a staff of universal bankers armed with customer information has the potential to create an experience that delights customers and creates a unique moment.

Balancing Security With Innovation

As the open API format of financial services continues to evolve, financial institutions will need to find ways to safely utilize the customer data they have historically been entrusted to protect. The PSD2, the second Payment Services Directive being established in the European Union, will likely become an international standard for financial institutions and payment services to operate under. This standard takes some of the responsibility for protecting customer data away from banks and into the hands of customers, with enhanced security checks. In short, this means that banks and credit unions will need to be aware of these changes in security measures, educate their customers, and most importantly, be ready to evolve with the these changes in the market. Traditional financial institutions will see an influx of competition from third party providers, and it is up to these financial institutions to utilize FinTech partnerships and their own offerings to maintain the interest and attention of their existing customer base.

2021 Banking Trends

2020 was a year of huge change, with a global pandemic, government stimulus checks, and an immediate need to switch to a more digital way of life. On the tail end of this past year, banks and credit unions will need to adjust to the new reality, the aftermath of Covid-19 and how the global economic forecast will impact this year’s growth. Consider the following trends and ideas for your financial institution this year.

Enhanced FinTech

FinTech has been on our radar for some time, and now organizations on both the banking side and the FinTech side are becoming more sophisticated about how they can work together. In the coming year, we’ll particularly see innovations in:

Payroll Fintech. Organizations will partner with FinTech companies to develop creative financing options for payroll, including options such as loans, advances, and other payment or savings systems built into their payroll framework to better serve employees without any more effort from employers.

Filling Gaps Between FIs and and FinTech Organizations. FinTech systems need to have proper access to work with banks and credit unions, and these financial institutions need to have their core systems set up in a way that FinTech organizations can work with. Historically, this has been a barrier to smaller banks and credit unions utilizing FinTech services, but we’re now seeing organization help to fill that gap and develop creative solutions for these smaller players.

Additionally, banking as a service organizations are helping banks flip the script for FinTech companies, treating these FinTech organizations as the client and providing them the banking services they need to have a platform and base for their services.

A Transition Out of Covid-19

Without getting too carried away, 2021 looks promising for the deployment of vaccines for Covid-19 and a tentative loosening of restrictions as the year progresses. With this in mind, small businesses will be assessing damage they incurred in the past year and thinking of ways creative financing and a prospective uptick in business can help them stay afloat and begin the recovery process. Financial institutions should be open-minded and come up with creative ways to think about small business loans to help those organizations in need and fill a much-needed gap.

Additionally, Covid-19 has change the way America interacts and does business, namely in terms of an explosion of digital and contactless interactions. Financial institutions should take stock of their digital transformation, see where they stack up in relation to competitors, and work to understand how their customer base has shifted behavior in the past year.