CSP Happenings

Topic: Customer Service Experience

Creating Human Moments In Customer Experience

February 23, 2020

When directors and executives of financial institutions think about improving customer experience, it’s easy to want to “throw technology” at customers. The concept of new and improved tech features sounds appealing, and decision-makers are constantly told about new ways they need to keep up with innovative new technology.

However, tech alone isn’t the answer.

Instead, decision-makers should focus on the human element of their technology, finding ways to take the inherent convenience of technology, and make it feel personal and meaningful to their brand promise and the individual they’re serving.

Consider the following ideas as a starting point for bringing a human touch to your services:

Let Customers Know When Content Is Personalized

When you communicate a special loan or offer to a customer, let them know you’ve taken the time to personalize it for them. Your efforts won’t go unnoticed:

  • Customer will pay more attention to something they know is specifically for them, whether it’s a loan, a budget calculator, or even an ad.
  • Show you care by explaining why a personalized offer makes sense for them. Giving them context for something that is personalized shows how it applies to their life, and will help engage their attention.
  • Educate your customers. Show them why your personalized offer is special. In particular, if there is something they’ve done well (e.g., getting a good rate due to a high credit score), teach them about how their positive actions can be leveraged and will benefit them through your offer.
Personalize Chatbots

Chatbot technology has improved over time, and now chatbots have a much more multifaceted ability to assist customers. These chatbots are inhuman by nature, but there are various ways to make them seem more personal.

  • Give your chatbot an identify. Even if it’s not an actual person, giving your chatbot a personality, name, and even appearance will help promote your brand and give your customer a recognizable being that they’ll come back to time and again.
  • Call your customer by name. Customers will likely know if they’re dealing with a robot, but the reality is that they’ll be more receptive if they feel their unique needs are being met. Calling your customer by name is just the tip of the iceberg — proactively communicating pertinent information, such as account balances and transaction details, will help your customer know their experience is personalized.
  • Allow for seamless human/chatbot handoffs. The reality is that some questions can’t be answered by artificial intelligence, and will need a human standing by to assist. Helping your chatbots seamlessly transition to a human being to answer specific or complex questions can raise your customer’s overall experience and show them their time is valued.
Eliminate Repetition

Examine your customer journey and find ways to eliminate repetition, especially in instances where it requires your customer to “work” by providing your organization with information.

A classic example of this is transferring customers from one department to the next. Asking for a customer’s information (account number, social security number, etc.), only to be transferred and have the same information asked feels highly impersonal, and can turn customers off, making them look elsewhere for support. Take a close look at different customer journeys and conversation strings, and find ways to streamline the experience in order to impress your customers.

Customer Anticipation: Banking Customer Experience in 2020

February 17, 2020

Historically, financial institutions have been reactionary or synergistic with customer actions and needs. If a customer needs a new loan, a bank or credit union will provide a customized, competitive offer. If a customer overdrafts, a bank may transition money into their account to notify them of the overdraft after it happens. However, in the future, organizations focused on customer experience will begin to anticipate customer needs, issues and opportunities before they happen, and proactively find solutions to problems or opportunities before they occur.

Balancing Security With Convenience

Most customers want security around their accounts, including safety of their passwords and notifications of fraudulent activity. In 2020, preventing issues such as these will be a core standard for financial institutions. However, most of the actions banks can take to proactively prevent security threats require intervention. This includes steps such a preventing potentially fraudulent action from happening by denying the charge, or sending short term PINs via email/text when a customer logs into an account from an unfamiliar source. In both of these situations, prompt communication is key, especially when there is a chance the interaction isn’t fraudulent.

  • Always communicate.When you’re taking an intervening action, let your customer know via text. They need to know right away, and they need to have an option to override if their request isn’t fraudulent.
  • Listen and learn. Understand the types of transactions your customer conducts. Fraud prevention is good, but if it happens regularly during a routine purchase, they’ll become frustrated.
  • Communicate when you prevent fraudulent activity. If your technology is working correctly by preventing fraud, let your customer know! They’ll appreciate your care and concern, and you should use the prevented problem as a point to boast about your brand and attention to detail.
Communicate Ways to Save Money

Millennials and Gen Z are open to changing brands, including financial institutions, and you can rest assured that even if you’ve successfully acquired a customer, there are competitors getting marketing materials in front of their eyes every chance they get. As such, it’s important to continue to court your customers once they’re acquired. Perhaps counterintuitively, you should be thinking about ways your brand can communicate savings opportunities to your long-term customers. Interest rates on accounts lower rates for mortgages, waived fees, and new offers are all ways to have your customers’ best interests in mind.

Even if it means a hit in revenue for your organization, providing customers with savings opportunities lets them know you’re doing everything in your power to save them money. Plus, this has a hidden benefit: Your customers will be more receptive to future offers (additional accounts, loans, etc.) if they’re used to you providing opportunities that bring them genuine value.

Guide New Technology

If your financial institution regularly updates your mobile banking app, chances are you’re internally excited about new features and fixes. However, even if these new features seem obvious to your team, your customers might not know about how to properly use them. Make sure to guide your customers through new features and updates, finding ways to overcome the learning barrier in order to get them understanding and using all of the wonderful ways you’ve invested in your technology. Update guides, pop-up buttons and online support are all ways you can aid your customers and make sure they get the most out of what you put in.

Create a Personal Customer Experience

When a customer works with any type of business, their satisfaction of the price, quality and delivery of the service/product only makes up part of their loyalty to that business. The aspects that truly solidify their relationship with the brand are the interpersonal and emotional bonds they form. They want to see familiar faces, feel well-known by the company they do business with and have a personal touch that makes them feel like more than a revenue-generating number.

Despite financial services’ efforts to provide a personalized touch, the world of banking can feel a bit cold for some consumers. Increased levels on non-interpersonal banking and the hard decisions that often revolve around personal finance are the major culprits. In order to protect existing customer relationships, financial institutions must do everything in their power to enhance the personalized experience and show customers they’re valuable. Consider the following tactics:

Encourage Relationships

Customer service can be misleading. Employees are encouraged to make the customer experience great by meeting all their transactional needs efficiently. However, this overlooks the element of interpersonal care and attention. Simple questions about the customer’s day can open up opportunities to learn more about that individual. If the customer opens up about their job, for example, tellers can inquire about it the next time that customer comes in. These simple, inquisitive probes are the roots for a more engaged customer experience and amiable business relationship.

Customize Accounts

A simple way to make the banking world more personal is to let customers customize their accounts. If they have different savings goals, they should be able to add different savings accounts and give them a personalized name. Similarly, they should be able to tinker with their own online user interface so they can view their account balances and transactions in a way that makes sense to them.

Eliminate Redundancy

When a customer calls in about a question on their savings account, how is the navigation handled? Often, they’re sent through an automated system, where they enter their information. After this, they sometimes speak to a representative – again providing their card number and social security number. In especially bad situations, they’re transferred to a specific department, and must provide their information a third time. This process is frustrating, and makes customers feel their time isn’t being respected. Anything financial services can do to eliminate this redundancy enhances customer satisfaction. This idea applies to other areas as well – saving their login information and offering quick-glance buttons are other digital methods of streamlining the customer experience.

Offering Opinions and Educating

Customers look to their banking representatives for advice. Especially when deciding among complex and major choices, like a small business loan or a mortgage, they want the best advice possible. With proper training, banking representatives should offer this advice freely, and lean on other staff members when they don’t have an answer. Customers don’t care about the expertise of a single individual, but want the financial institution’s collective knowledge to put them on the right path. This aspect is where interpersonal touches and concrete value truly intersect, and financial services can lay a strong framework for a meaningful and lucrative business relationship.

Overlooked Opportunities for Baby Boomers, Generations X-Z

February 2, 2020

When it comes to marketing for financial institutions, most individuals will think of Millennials, the center subject of marketing for the last 10 years. Acquiring young consumers means a major lifetime value of the consumer, and Millennials are now entering a more evolved stage in their earning potential. However, Gen Z is now on the map, and Gen Xers as well as Baby Boomers have become incredibly valuable assets. Consider the following when thinking about how your financial institution targets generational cohorts.

Gen Z Provides Unique Opportunities

When most people thinking of marketing toward Gen Z, they think of a young, tech-savvy generation that will likely focus entirely on digital interactions as a point of differentiation. However, for retail banking, this isn’t the case. Due to their uncertain financial states (being young and building a financial footing for the first time), Gen Z consumers have a higher tendency to visit branches, consistent with the idea that those less certain with their finances tend to show up in person more. Marketers need to see this as an opportunity to differentiate their brand through in-branch experiences, including unique out-of-the-box concepts like Capital One cafes, geared toward a more casual in-person interaction.

Millennials Aren’t That Young

Millennials are buying homes, having children and entering a stage in their careers where they have found consistency of work and are getting promotions. The stereotype of Millennials being childless, scraping by and only interested in saving enough money for happy hour may have been applicable as recently as five years ago, but this cohort is evolving and, after a long stretch of delaying child bearing, may be thinking about their families and long term futures more.

In order to cater to this demographic, financial institutions need to tailor their services to meet the needs of this evolving demographic. Specifically, financial institutions should think about ways they can serve these life events, such as providing life insurance before having children, tailoring retirement savings to set Millennials up for success, and helping Millennials budget in order to achieve the ever-elusive goal of home ownership.

Complex Landscape of Gen Xers

Often considered a forgotten generation, especially in terms of marketing, Gen Xers have a particularly strong financial stance that puts organizations overlooking their financial power at risk. Gen X owns businesses, is in the peak of its earning potential and is accumulating wealth at the highest rate. These unique characteristics also make Gen X extremely financially responsible — that is, they are responsible for the financial wellbeing of their household, children, communities, and are increasingly facing the task of providing financial assistance to aging parents who may need help with medical care.

With all of this responsibility, financial institutions should work to provide personalized help to Gen Xers on how to best leverage their finances, meet the pressing needs they’re faced with and help them stay on track to long term goals like retirement and paying for parts of their children’s college educations.

Changing Needs of Boomers

Baby Boomers seem like an unlikely target for marketers. With most financial institutions soliciting young individuals with the hope of acquiring a malleable consumer’s attention, Baby Boomers seem like they might be stuck in their ways, already committed to a financial institution. However, the transitions of retirement, increasing medical costs and wealth management present new challenges for Boomers, and new opportunities for financial institutions. Banks and credit unions should give attention to this cohort, especially due to the sheer amount of wealth it has amassed and the huge population it represents. Finding ways to serve annuities, help with estate planning and maximize the value these individuals can receive in healthcare will help financial institutions win over this huge market share.

The Evolving Digital Financial Institution

January 21, 2020

The customer experience for financial institutions, and customers’ perceptions of banks and credit unions, are changing. In a constantly evolving industry (and one that is evolving quicker than it ever has in the past), it’s important to take a step back and understand the current state of financial services. At a high level, customers want more and less interaction with their financial institution simultaneously. 2019 will see increased interaction and monitoring of their financial life, but will experience more of this activity through digital, rather than in-depth and in-person interactions. They will have higher expectations of their financial institution, and think of their FI as a strategic partner in their overall financial health. Going into the future, consumers will expect their data to be better utilized, but to be even better protected as it’s being accessed.
More Frequent Touchpoints
Consumers will conduct more transactions and interact with their financial institutions than ever before, looking for features and capabilities that help them be nimble with their finances. Higher numbers and increasingly specified savings accounts, more flexiblity with retirement accounts and regular monitoring of their financial health all play into this dynamic.
Branding Through Digital
Customers will have more interactions through digital than ever before. Increasing amounts of self-service, confident movement past buggy apps and increasing digital parity among big banks and smaller financial institutions all make the digital playing field more accessible than ever before. As such, organizations need to make sure their personality, brand values and differentiators are communicated through this channel, especially mobile. However, this doesn’t affect the relevance of branches and bank associates. It simply puts more pressure on branch experiences to excel in their delivery. Utilizing the capabilities of a universal banker, bank associates must be familiar with the digital landscape their customers regularly function within as well, able to explain and troubleshoot digital issues in person.
Growing Through New Value
One of the ways customers are increasingly expecting more from their financial institutions is through consulting and advice. For the traditional retail banking customer, they’re looking toward their financial institutions to help them manage and optimize their finances, rather than simply oversee them. More readily available information about personal finance and a consumer base that more readily shares data and information has given rise to this increase in expectation, and financial institutions can make themselves invaluable partners along the way.
The Future is Sophisticated Security
Perhaps most notably, the direction banking is moving toward in the future includes the unique challenge and opportunity of guaranteeing security while utilizing/sharing more consumer data than ever before. Open banking, the pioneering of blockchain for financial institutions and the capabilities of FinTech all create audacious and meaningful opportunities. While FinTech partnerships with traditional financial institutions are already moving ahead full steam, open banking and blockchain are still being defined. This creates an opportunity for executives and directors to get on board with these innovations before they enter the mainstream in order to position their organizations for long-term success and timely evolution.

Financial Institution New Year Resolutions

In 2020, our hope is that financial services leaders and decision makers choose smart paths to grow and improve their business. Here are a couple resolutions to consider this next year in order to strike a balance between making yourself a customer-centric organization that also is keeping up with tech trends.

Accept that FinTech is a Core Part of Your Strategy

Let’s face it — FinTech is hear to stay, and tech’s influence on financial services isn’t going anywhere. With Big tech organizations like Apple and Facebook entering the financial services realm through offerings like credit cards and crypto-currencies, financial institutions need to accept and embrace the inclusion and disruption tech will cause. Most importantly, financial institutions need to recognize what they bring to the table — security, an existing customer base, compliance and consumer trust.

Simply put, technology is entering the financial services world because consumers have a higher demand for usability and customer experience than ever before, and smaller FinTech startups as well as big tech organizations feel they can improve the space. In order to keep pace, make sure your organization is using its assets in order to attract FinTech partnerships, be willing to change in order to enhance customer experience, and ride the wave of the future of financial services.

…But Say Goodbye to a Technology-First Approach

Importantly, sophisticated financial institutions are turning away from the idea of technology for the sake of technology. Too often this approach leads to an overwhelming amount of tech functionality that is unintuitive, whether it’s an overly complicated mobile app or a budgeting calculator that requires a lot of investment and gets minimal use.

Instead, financial institutions are focusing on a customer-first approach — by listening to what customers want, then building an infrastructure around their most important needs. Rather than providing every tool available, organizations should focus on nailing the fundamentals. Are online transfers easy and seamless? When a customer has an issue, are they able to get help? Is it easy for customers to make sense of their transaction history? By focusing on this approach, financial institutions can make sure the technology they invest in is truly working for the customer.

Additionally, a technology-first approach assumes that all-digital is the only strategy. While the amount of digital transactions are increasing, customers are finding branch experiences to be a major differentiator in dictating their preferred financial services organization. Couple this with the fact that Gen Z is surprisingly likely to visit branches, and executives risk losing out on this younger cohort by looking at things through a tech-heavy lens.

Gen Z Banking Trends

January 19, 2020

With the oldest Gen Zers already at age 24, this generation is already becoming relevant to financial services, establishing their financial lives, beginning to enter the workforce, and possessing a variety of unique characteristics that will pose financial institutions with challenges and opportunities to command their attention. Consider the following as your financial institutions works to acquire new Gen Z customers.

Heightened Expectations for Mobile and Digital

Most marketers are well-versed in communicating with Millennials. High expectations for a fluid online experience and a transitioning of life stages into parenthood and home ownership characterize the Gen Y mindset. Gen Z takes the expectations of tech-fluency to a new level, most clearly by being the first all-digital generation. They consume more entertainment and information on their mobile devices than ever before, need online experiences to be 100% intuitive and have smartphones check their smartphones more often than any other generation. This also means they look to their digital lives for sources of entertainment, and are more engrained in social media platforms.

While this heightened relationship with digital and mobile is to be expected, some of the outcomes of this relationship are less intuitive. Specifically, Gen Z looks for emotional pulls from online experiences. Finding meaning in their brand relationships, considering social good and finding innovative new ways to “gamify” digital interactions will catch the attention of Gen Z and help differentiate in a saturated digital market.

Gen Z is Having An In-Branch Moment

One of the big surprises of Gen Z is their affinity for in-branch experiences. According to The Financial Brand, this is due to a number of factors: Individuals with lower smaller financial savings stowed away tend to gravitate more toward in-branch experiences, they are gravitating toward cafe-style branches, and some marketers even think that the free food provided in some of these branches may be a draw for a younger generation still working to find financial security.

Whatever the reason, financial institutions should look to cater toward Gen Z customers seeking community through in-person interactions, and leverage these opportunities to attract and retain life-long customers in their financial infancy. Investing in an exceptional in-branch experience will lend itself to long-term customers with huge potential for upward financial mobility.

Heightened Long-Term Financial Awareness

Gen Z is wary of debt, on track to have more student debt than any prior generation and has more access to information that ever before. These factors combine to create a generation that is more aware of its financial wellbeing than ever before. Gen Z has seen and heard Millennials struggle with buying homes and heard lessons from the 2008 financial crisis, and are taking note, wanting to get their financial lives in order early and effectively.

Financial institutions should work to finds ways to cater to these desires to learn by providing free, high-value content to Gen Z. Helping to educate on establish a firm financial future through debt reduction, getting a head start on retirement savings, and helping to address long-term goals like buying a house will all be invaluable to Gen Z. Additionally, financial institutions should continue to work to leverage customer data in order to give Gen Z customized tools and reports that give them more information about their financial standing.


Looking Ahead: Blockchain Becomes Reality

December 17, 2019

What is blockchain? At a high level, blockchain technology is a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), where each independent user has possession of the entire framework, creating a  decentralized and widely replicated “source of truth” when it comes to existing transactions, accounts and underlying information. This decentralization is important because the wide replication and distribution, when shared across many independent users, means the information is highly verified, reliable, and tamper-proof.

This is especially valuable because it allows for independent transactions to occur without a third-party mediator. The reliability of secure transactions without direct oversight from a financial institution or third party opens up the possibility of a cost-effective and consistent way to, among other things, conduct transactions online.

Created by Accident

Blockchain and Bitcoin are inextricably tied. The online currency needed a way to be exchanged, and, to enable Bitcoin’s growth, blockchain technology was developed. Designed with the intent to support Bitcoin, the developers and the world at large realized that the underlying DLT may prove to be more valuable than the cryptocurrency it was designed to support. The fundamentality of the technology makes it applicable to a wide variety of uses and industries that financial institutions, and the business world at large, are only beginning to explore and uncover.


There are still major barriers to Blockchain technology, but the value proposed by the technology means it is only a matter of time and effort to overcome and adapt to the current barriers in place.

  • Lack of standardization. For retail application, Blockchain is still in its infancy. Tech firms are working on developing the technology for different industries, but there are a variety of players, and no single iteration of the technology has arisen as the mostly likely to succeed and be the most accessible moving forward. Financial institutions are looking to see how the innovating stage of this technology yields itself to producing long-term, reliable partners.


The Skills You Need to Hire for 2020

December 15, 2019

The world of financial services is changing faster than ever, and it’s important that when you set your goals and strategy for 2020, you hire the right individuals to get you there. Your human resources are your most valuable asset, and putting the right pieces in place can help you keep pace with a changing environment and seize strategic advantages by leveraging change to your behalf. Think about the following skills and positions in 2020:

Universal Banker

We’ve talked about the Universal Banker in the past, but now, their contribution to financial services is more important than ever. The customer demands of 2020 and beyond will see heightened expectations of fluency of service. In other words, they’ll want intuitive, quick, and fluent service from their banks and credit unions.

A universal banker helps to fill this gap by being trained and skilled in a variety of facets, being able to handle any customer request that comes in, from a new line of credit to an issue with their mobile app on their phone. If you haven’t already, utilize your staff to meet this universal banking need by cross training and encouraging acquisition of new skills. Present this opportunity to your staff as a chance to expand skill sets, learn what they’re interested in and make them a more valuable asset to your organization.

AI Management

From automatically translating customer data into targeted ads to chatbots working at a higher level of sophistication, financial institutions are leveraging artificial intelligence to better their services. Importantly, in 2019, chatbots became more sophisticated than ever before and are now capable of meeting customer experience expectations that wouldn’t have been possible even three years ago.

With the way AI is changing the financial services landscape, your organization should think about having someone on board who can make sense, strategize, and make AI work for you. Specifically, this person can help bring in third-party help, “own” your organization’s AI universe, and create a roadmap that melds AI trends with the nuances of your specific organization.

FinTech Partnerships

Quite simply, FinTech partnerships can drive your organization forward in terms of innovation and experience by “outsourcing” those responsibilities and value adds to an external organization. Think of this as two opportunities: The opportunity to bring on numerous FinTech organizations to meet the unique needs of your customers, and potentially, an internal individual to oversee these partnerships. Having an individual in the field and seeking out partnerships can help identify unique opportunities, establish a separation of roles and responsibilities for these partnerships, and regularly evaluate the efficacy of each unique relationship.

CX Analytics and Coaching

While it’s easy to get caught up with buzzwords and technology trends, the reality is that all of these unique trends aim to better serve customers and meet heightened expectations. Your organization should make sure to have an external team to objectively identify your strengths and weaknesses for customer experience, create an evaluation process to look at the performance of customer touchpoints, coach behaviors to help improve customer experience across these different touchpoints, and attribute improvements in customer experience to revenue growth and your organization’s bottom line.

Solidify Your Digital Transformation

November 19, 2019

Most financial institutions have already taken major steps to improve and innovate their digital and mobile presence. Moving forward, 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.

Focus on Mobile

An omni-channel experience is essential to the modern competitive financial institution, but within that context, your organization should approach omni-channel from a mobile-first approach. Increasingly, customers are conducting financial transactions and interactions from mobile apps, and it’s important your financial institution look at these interactions as an epicenter for the way customers view your brand as a whole. Quite simply, if you get mobile right, the other pieces will fall into place.