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Customer Satisfaction: What are the right KPIs to measure?

October 4, 2017

 

 

Guest-blogger Andrew Huber of Harland Clarke discusses 7 rules to follow in determining the right KPIs to measure in customer satisfaction.

 

It’s widely accepted that there can be tremendous value for businesses that rely on key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure, manage and communicate organization results.  KPIs are a valuable tool to tell you if you’re on the right course toward meeting your strategic objectives, or if you need to make adjustments to get back on track.

But one of the key questions that managers grapple with is determining which key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure, and how to deploy them successfully over time. This is especially true when it comes to the measurement of customer satisfaction.

Why determining customer service KPIs can be tricky

Focusing on the wrong KPIs means you’re spending time and money measuring, monitoring and trying to improve metrics that aren’t critical to your financial institution’s objectives. The same is true of poorly structured KPIs, or KPIs that are too difficult and costly to obtain, or to monitor on a regular basis.

Select too many, and you’ll be overloaded with endless pages of data too extensive to be effectively managed or used to improve customer satisfaction.

To avoid common headaches that occur when trying to determine which KPIs to measure, it’s best to adhere to the following 7 rules:

  • Each KPI has its own applicability, and limitations. Each can stand on its own as a useful tool for measuring certain customer interactions, but a comprehensive measurement model is necessary to give a complete picture of account holder experience.
  • Determine what KPIs to measure based on the key drivers that your account holders consider important. Just because something is measurable doesn’t make if meaningful in the context of your account holder’s expectations.
  • Define KPIs accurately and clearly, ensuring that the aspect of the customer experience being addressed is both quantifiable and measurable.
  • KPIs should link back to a customer satisfaction objective and measure something you can impact.
  • Ensure that KPIs deliver comprehensive, actionable insight that is linked to and applied to particular employee interactions or processes on an on-going basis.
  • Focus on trends in your KPIs more than specific data. The direction of change usually matters most.
  • Reviewing on a quarterly or annual basis can provide both positive and challenging insights.[1]

 

Identifying the key drivers of customer satisfaction for your specific account holder base and aligning them with these – or other – metrics that align with your objectives can be the start of a successful KPI program.  Successfully applying the insights you derive from your KPIs can improve key drivers, leading to greater customer satisfaction, stronger brand loyalty and, ultimately, better performance.

But Don’t Get Too Set in Your Ways

KPIs should not be set in stone, but rather evaluated consistently over time and modified where necessary. Revisit your assumptions. Financial institution goals and objectives change, as do those for customer experience. Don’t continue to use KPIs that are no longer meaningful or useful.

While there are an infinite number of metrics that can be used to build KPIs around customer satisfaction, there are several that have gained wide acceptance across industries for providing valuable insight.

Examples include: the Net Promoter Score (NPS), the Customer Satisfaction Score, the Customer Effort Score and Forrester’s Customer Experience Index.

One size doesn’t fit all. When it comes to selecting the right key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring customer experience, it’s important that the KPIs you use provide valuable customer insights aligned with the goals of your financial institution, not your competitor down the street.

If a metric isn’t key to you, it’s not a “key” performance indicator.  Select KPIs that are relevant for your industry, and, just as importantly, for your organization.

[1] Patterson, Matthew. “How Top Customer Service Teams Measure Performance,” Help Scout, April 16, 2016

How to Create a Successful Customer Experience Strategy

September 8, 2017

 

 

CSP is happy to have guest-blogger, Andrew Huber of Harland Clarke return this month and share his insights on creating a customer experience strategy that is successful.

 

“How are we doing?”

This question is at the foundation of any organization’s quest for continuous improvement. For banks and credit unions, the answer encompasses more than an institution’s financial statements.

In customer-centric organizations, the role of customer feedback is critical to sustaining and deepening account holder relationships, and contributing to long-term profitability.

But, are we there yet?

While many financial institutions say they want to improve the customer experience, are they taking the necessary steps to get there?  A true voice of the customer strategy is a multi-faceted process whose focus is to understand the customer experience via actionable data and analysis on multiple levels.

Below are three important things to keep in mind if your financial institution desires a truly comprehensive customer survey experience.

3 Considerations for Creating a Useful Voice of the Customer Strategy

#1 – Consider All Customer Experience Touchpoints

First comes the design and deployment of surveys using a variety of methodologies. The focus is on gathering, measuring and interpreting customer experience feedback at every touchpoint, from new account openings in the branch to the call center and online channels. Every customer experience touchpoint must be considered, in order for your business to plan for it.

#2 – Ensure You’re Gathering the Right Data

Surveys are just the start.

One of the keys to a successful customer experience program lies in the data accumulated from everything that’s happened to this point. The data gathered needs to be both actionable and all-inclusive. In other words, it needs to include real-time knowledge across significant customer satisfaction metrics that can be applied directly to specific operational and frontline areas that impact the account holder experience. Measuring net promoter score may only scratch the surface of what your financial institution would like to learn.

Learn important satisfaction metrics to measure outside of net promoter score in the white paper, “Customer Experience: Beyond Net Promoter Score.”

Download Your Copy Here.

#3 – Figure Out (in Advance) How You’ll Analyze the Data

While the core value that such a program can provide shouldn’t be underestimated, there can also be a thin line between a comprehensive service that yields insightful customer understanding and one with reams of survey data but little customer insight that can be used to directly affect bottom line performance.

This is why it’s important to answer these questions in advance of implementing your survey strategy: once you’ve gathered the data, then what? Who will mine the data for actionable insights?

If you don’t have a data scientist on staff, consider outsourcing to a third-party.

In today’s customer-focused world, dissecting and analyzing the customer experience can provide key insight that banks and credit unions can use to ensure they are truly putting the customer first. This mindset paves the way for multiple benefits including:

  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Greater loyalty and retention
  • Better performance

Good Coaches Should Inform, Not Condescend

August 24, 2017

Managers and directors must be good coaches. The very nature of managing a staff team requires those in charge to make individuals within the team more skilled, smarter, and happier due to career satisfaction. Unfortunately, some managers fail to handle teaching moments with grace and sensitivity, and leave their employees feeling like a failed performer, rather than a valuable member of the team.

The reality is that high performers often rise to positions of management, and these same individuals sometimes lack the soft skills necessary to be a good coach. In a sense, they need to be coached on how to be a good coach. Coaching is a difficult skill that requires a sense of compassion, awareness, critical thinking and creativity. Simply put, a good coach should build employees up, rather than breaking them down. Here are some approaches managers should keep in mind when coaching opportunities arise:

Solution-Oriented Discussions

Every good discussion between management and staff should focus on a common goal that is desirable for both parties. Establishing a common desire and end goal helps align thinking and shifts the conversation in a way that is collaborative for the employee. This collaboration empowers employees to feel like partners in their own success, as well as the company’s. 

Inviting Employee Feedback

By creating a collaborative environment, managers create opportunities for employees to share experiences and opinions the managers might not otherwise see. Often, employees feel forced to tell white lies out of fear of sounding like they have bad attitudes. When there are legitimate issues with business processes or approaches, employees are often afraid to point them out due to fear of appearing to make excuses. When this happens, management misses out on key learning moments that might be holding the company back. It’s incredibly important for employees to feel comfortable expressing dissatisfaction with certain processes in place so that managers hear about blind spots they might not independently identify.

Specific Actions Instead of Vague Ideas

A good coach should always focus on specific actions employees can take to improve. Without clear directions, employees leave constructive feedback meetings with anxiety and agitation, rather than clarity and purpose. The more specific a manager can be, the more likely the employee will change behavior and feel confident in her/his actions.

A Pathway to Success, Rather Than Repercussions for Failure

When employees receive criticism, their big-picture concerns come to mind very quickly. They worry about job security, finances and the stability of their homes. Managers need to diffuse this sentiment by explaining how constructive feedback sets employees up for long term success. Instead of being concernedabout job security, employees should have confidence that their job security will be enhanced by coaching sessions. They should feel they can bring more value to the company and become a better, more important employee as a result.

Measurable, Small and Meaningful Goals Set by Coaches

Once employees feel comfortable and have specific actions they can take to improve, there should be a plan of action for them to gradually improve. Giving employees small, modest goals makes those improvements achievable and gives them something realistic to work toward. Coaches should explain how these small improvements are valuable, and follow up with praise when employees show concrete improvement.

When working with employees, managers should always give staff members the benefit of the doubt. People almost unanimously show up to work with the intention of performing well, and managers need to maintain this mindset, rather than doubting their team members. Business is highly personal, and points of constructive criticism are most effective when framed in the context of helping, rather than hurting, employees. Managers who do this well see low turnover, high performance and company culture that is built on a solid foundation of trust.

ROI of customer experience research

August 15, 2017

If you’re already reading this, there’s a good chance you see value in customer experience research. Understanding your customers – what delights them about your company, or what annoys them to the point where they

begin to explore your competitors – is essential in today’s competitive landscape. However, many businesses fail to dedicate the time and energy necessary to understanding their customers. Customer experience research isn’t an annual event that belongs in a PowerPoint slide – it’s the lifeblood of an organization, and should be treated as such.

In order to give customer experience research the attention it deserves, it’s important to remember the return on investment (ROI) customer experience research provides, and the different ways it pays off:

Customer Retention

The most obvious ROI for customer experience research is customer retention. Simply put, happy customers don’t leave. As brands become more sophisticated and competitive with the services/products they offer, customer experience becomes an increasingly important competitive advantage. In fact, many businesses and organizations continue to adopt the mentality that customer experience is their greatest differentiator among competitors. For a long time, businesses have found worth in customer retention due to the higher cost of acquiring a new customer, rather than maintaining an existing one. Now, that incentive has increased by placing customer experience as a form of customer retention, a focal model for competitive advantage and an expectation of Millennial customers.

Offering New Products and Services

Learning about customer experience helps businesses in a couple of important ways: They learn how their customers think, which in turn improves their customers’ satisfaction with them. These two customer experience improvements allow companies to offer new products or services in tactful ways. When they understand how their customers think, they can proactively address needs or desires with services/products they already have available. Likewise, when customers are increasingly happy with a business, they’re more open to enhancing their relationship. They know the company has their best interest in mind, so they trust new business opportunities and offers. Targeted customer feedback can guide businesses in enhancing relationships on a customer-to-customer basis, and provide a roadmap for future interactions with specific customers.

Development of New Services

Customer experience research gives businesses a new level of insight into their customers’ thought and needs, and opens the door to identify trends of unmet needs. These trends in feedback often lead to new products, new services or simply changes in the way they do business. In the same way, businesses avoid “flop” product/service rollouts when they listen closely to their customers. Through customer experience research, businesses tend to find a gap that their customers need, rather than creating a product that may or may not be desired. This gap directs their attention and guides the development of a new product or services, rather than taking a shot in the dark.

Customer Advocacy

Companies invest millions of dollars every year toward advertising expenses, offering incentives for new customers and hiring third party social media strategists to increase their brand awareness. However, customer advocacy remains one of the most effective ways to obtain new customers. When a client is so excited about a brand or service that they reach out to their friends and family, those potential customers know the perspective is coming from a source they trust. They place the highest value on trusted recommendations without an ulterior motive. Customer experience research ensures that businesses aren’t just satisfactory, but that they understand their customers enough to truly excite and engage them in a way that inspires this type of customer advocacy.

If your organization is ever in doubt about the ROI of customer experience research, take time to outline the ways it impacts customer retention, pitching new products, development of new services and creating customer advocacy.

Likewise, keep these different categories top-of-mind when conducting customer experience research, and use it as an opportunity to grow the most lucrative parts of your business.

KPI: A must-have tool for financial institutions

August 8, 2017

 

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are becoming an increasingly important tool for financial institution executives as they move into the future. True to their name, they offer a measurable, quantifiable look at how well a financial institution performs over time on key drivers of revenue and profitability. Examples of KPIs include, but certainly aren’t limited to new accounts opened, products per customer or net promoter score.

With more data available than ever before, it’s important to understand the power of KPIs. Specifically, managers and coaches should have a firm grasp on what harnessing and measuring KPIs can do for their financial institutions, and what they can’t do.

What can KPIs do?

Show revenue streams by performance. A good example of a KPI is the total dollar value of an individual revenue stream, and executives use KPIs to answer questions about their incoming revenue. What are a financial institution’s total account holdings? What portion of their loans are car loans versus mortgages? Understanding the performance of these different revenue streams helps directors and executives know where trouble areas are and where opportunities lie. They can understand which elements of their financial institutions are most important to protect and have an accurate picture of their business priorities.

Encourage hypothesis. When executives look at their strengths and weaknesses, they can make inferences about why those strengths and weaknesses exist. This is particularly important when a KPI trends up or down, which opens the door for next steps of research and insights. For example, if the amount of new accounts opened is dropping each month, executives should try to understand the root cause. Are fewer customers coming through the door? Do local competitors offer a better interest rate? Are employees failing to convert prospects into customers? Executives don’t have a crystal ball, but guessing and testing these different hypotheses can help, especially to redirect faltering KPIs and mitigate lost revenue.

Highlight importance of customer relationships. Customer relation KPIs, such as loyalty index, net promoter score and customer relation feedback, help executives understand what makes their financial institutions better or worse than their competitors. Iterative scoring, along with qualitative feedback directly from customers, helps executives make sense of what is on their customers’ minds and what is important to them. Feedback gives context to the areas of the financial institution that are thriving or faltering, and often offers a recommendation for improvement.

What can’t KPIs do?

Teach employees how to interact with customers. Scoring alone can’t explain the interpersonal skills necessary for a successful customer experience. More feedback in the form of customer experience research is necessary to understand KPIs. For example, executives can use KPIs to learn that consumers are increasingly dissatisfied with a bank’s call center, but they must dig deeper to understand how to improve. Often, subtle interactions send strong messages about a financial institution’s brand. Customers need to feel respected by their financial institutions, and the institutions need to actively promote relationships and look for opportunities for growth. Coaching, qualitative feedback and close observation are needed to develop true mastery of customer interaction.

Create a strategy. KPIs are great starting places for developing a strategy for improvement, but they’re far from the final plan. They illustrate strengths and weaknesses, but coaches and managers need to work with their staff to create a plan of action. If a KPI is constantly improving, how can they expand that aspect of their business and seek out new opportunities? If a KPI is faltering, managers need to coach employees on specific actions for improvement, or look at their financial institution’s value propositions and understand where they might fall short compared to competitors. KPIs are wonderful diagnostic tools, but understanding a problem alone doesn’t offer a solution.

KPIs are becoming increasingly specific, and managers are working with partners to measure KPIs, understand them in an easy-to-digest manner and use them to direct the priorities of their financial institutions. These tools have limits, but their ability to direct attention and establish data-driven confidence makes them an important element of financial institutions’ decision making, and they will become increasingly utilized in the future.

What Does Customer Experience Mean For Financial Institutions?

August 2, 2017

 

 

CSP is happy to have guest-blogger, Andrew Huber, Program Manager at Harland Clarke, share his insights about customer experience (CX) and the need for financial institutions to deliver outstanding service at every touchpoint.

 

 

You likely know that the key to any strong, long-lasting business is delivering an exceptional customer experience (CX).

Unfortunately, when it comes to financial institutions, there can be a big disconnect between the experience they think they’re providing vs. the experience account holders are receiving. For instance, 41 percent of banks and credit unions consider themselves “relationship focused,” while just 13 percent of consumers say the same.

So how can financial institutions stay competitive and deliver an outstanding CX? Especially when, in the age of mobile devices and social media, everyone wants something tailored just for them?

The answer is surprisingly simple (and yet incredibly difficult) – financial institutions must deliver outstanding service at every touchpoint in the customer experience, from in-branch to call center and from online to mobile device.

This white paper reveals that account holders remain loyal to their financial institutions for five main reasons:

  • They were treated well
  • They experienced good communication
  • They received high quality advice
  • Their problems were resolved quickly
  • They had a personal relationship with at least one financial institution employee

Financial institutions have a strong incentive to keep account holders happy: increasing customer retention just 5 percent can show a 25-95 percent increase in profits. This is because acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5-25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one, with customers having a positive experience spending 140 times more than ones who have a bad experience.

If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Regardless of the context, people are loyal to who and what makes them happy, they’re more willing to recommend the source of their happiness, and they’re likely to want more from this source. Their financial institutions are no exception.

Creating a positive CX sounds easy enough, but these statistics only convey the benefits, not how crucial it is to get customer experience right.

In one study, 41 percent of account openers and 33 percent of account closers cited customer experience as the number one reason for making their decision, outranking competitive interest rates, low fees and location.

It can take years to build a positive customer experience, but a single negative experience, a single episode of poor customer service, or a single complaint that goes unaddressed can cost a financial institution an account holder — or more, thanks to the power of social media.

CX Best Practices
Want to ensure your financial institution is prepared to deliver an outstanding CX? Find eight best practices to implement in this white paper, “Customer Experience: Best Practices for Growing Revenue.”

> Download your copy here

 

4 Questions to Ask When Appealing to Millennial Customers

April 10, 2017

Millennials may access customer service in new ways, but many of their priorities remain the same as previous generations.

Millennials may access customer service in new ways, but many of their priorities remain the same as previous generations.

Millennials are taking over the world—literally. As of April 2016, Millennials have edged out Baby Boomers as the largest generation in America. That means Millennials are a driving force behind modern evolutions in customer experience.

The largest, most diverse, most educated generation of Americans to date have incredible spending power. Their familiarity with and reliance on technology defines the Millennial experience and means major changes for businesses and brands looking to court their loyalty.

So how can you become a favorite among Millennial customers?

Millennials still want reliability, friendliness, responsiveness, and quality – they just want even more of it than previous generations were satisfied to have.

No generation before has seen such a rapid progression and diversification of technology. While older Millennials still remember the dial-up days, the younger set are coming of age in a time of ubiquitous and instant availability of favorite resources and channels. Millennials see technology as a lifestyle, not a toolbox.  

If you’re looking to strengthen your appeal to Millennials, your business should embrace a similar mindset. Your business already uses technology to communicate quickly and efficiently. The next step is to embrace the wide variety of apps, devices, and networks that make your brand easy to access and share. The following questions are a good way to gauge if your business is ready to attract Millennial consumers.

IS IT FAST?

Millennials know what they want, and they want it now. Influenced by their always-available, multi-tasking, multi-device lifestyles, their attention span is rather short. Millennials have little patience for clumsy user interfaces or apps that struggle to load. They don’t want to wait for answers! They make decisions quickly and will gravitate to businesses that help them accelerate their progress.

IS IT SOCIAL?

Millennials are always connected to the Internet and therefore, always connected to each other. Businesses quickly realized that the key to engaging Millennial markets is to connect via social media.

Millennials begrudgingly accept the presence of brands and businesses in their social networks, but they expect businesses to behave socially. Personal interactions with businesses make them feel heard and valued.

Rather than picking up a phone, Millennials favor direct Tweets, Yelp reviews, and Facebook posts to describe their experience with a business. An active social media presence demonstrates your business’ willingness to personally connect with customers and keeps your brand fresh in someone’s news feed. 

IS IT MEANINGFUL?

Millennials maintain a heightened awareness of social issues and causes. They’re not interested in money for the sake of money—they want their dollar to mean something when they spend it. Consequently, businesses that include an element of social justice in their work are more likely to successfully engage Millennials.

IS IT AUTONOMOUS?

Millennials are self-starters. They want to feel empowered by their business interactions. Many customer experience disruptions come from Millennials as they initiated their own startups to fill niches not served by the existing market. They’re not content to say: “This is the way things have always been done.” 

This generation saw the birth of “crowdsourcing and online reviews as a significant influencer on purchasing decisions. Conversely, Millennials also value the availability of self-service options, especially those that get them to their destination faster by cutting out the middleman. They’re not opposed to picking up the phone or having a face-to-face customer service interaction, but it’s usually not their first choice. In fact, they may snub a business that doesn’t give them enough opportunity to help themselves.  

Brands Millennials Love

Venmo and other P2P (person to person) payment apps are a recent example of the way Millennials prefer to handle their finances. Venmo provides a slick, no-hassle interface, connects users directly to social networks, and is completely autonomous. Venmo has also partnered with GiveDirectly to make it easier than ever for users to donate to their favorite charity. 

TOMS Shoes is another good example of a brand that successfully engages Millennial markets. Their “One for One” campaign elevated an ordinary purchase of new shoes to an act of goodwill. TOMS also has a strong social media presence. They encourage customers to share stories and make them feel like they’re a part of the TOMS mission to improve the lives of others. 

 

These new insights into Millennial habits in combination with your own Voice of the Customer research will create a customer experience tailored to Millennial demands. In Part Two of this series, we review the areas of the experience to prioritize and provide examples of specific actions to take and offerings to consider when engaging this desirable demographic.

3 Lessons Banks Can Learn from Wells Fargo’s Mistakes

October 17, 2016

wells fargo made mistakes that should give other banks pause

One of the biggest banks in the U.S., Wells Fargo, made one of the biggest mistakes in recent banking industry history. By pressuring their sales staff to grow the number of customer accounts by nearly any means necessary, they wound up crossing some major ethical and legal lines and created a scandal that has hurt the bank in more ways than one.

In September 2016, after the scandal broke, Wells Fargo’s stock (WFC) fell to the lowest levels seen since early 2014, and the bank saw profits drop 2.6% for that quarter. Regulators issued $185M in fines, and lawsuits are lining up from consumers, employees, and shareholders. CEO John Stumpf was publicly grilled by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the video of which quickly went viral, and he retired shortly thereafter.

This could happen anywhere.

There is nothing particularly special about Wells Fargo that made it the breeding ground for shady practices. In the competition for customers, all banks face continuing pressure to prove their success to shareholders and grow the business. Wells Fargo may have had the audacity to push the envelope into scandalous territory, but in theory, this could have happened anywhere. So what can banks learn from their mistakes?

1. Don’t sacrifice Quality at the expense of Quantity.

Wells Fargo was driven to these practices by a hunger for more – more customers, more accounts, more sources of revenue from fees associated with said accounts, more impressive numbers to show shareholders. Obsessing over the numbers is not the only way to grow a business. Ideally, customers choose you and stay with you because of the quality you provide. When a bank constantly strives to improve the quality of its customer experience, everyone wins.  

2. Don’t assume customers will tolerate anything.

Wells Fargo is one of the oldest and most recognized names in banking. Once a business is that established and secure, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that customers will tolerate misbehavior like aggressive sales tactics or public scandals. Switching banks isn’t easy, especially once a customer has multiple accounts and assets tied up with one institution. Maybe Wells Fargo assumed that the potential risk of angering or losing customers was too low to worry about. That’s a dangerous assumption to make; it’s safer to assume that customers are always watching and waiting for you to give them an excuse to switch to a competitor. Customers have already been letting Wells Fargo know how they feel: branch visits fell 10%, checking accounts 25%, and credit card applications 20%, compared to the previous year.

3. Don’t gamble with regulatory compliance.

There is simply too much at stake to risk weaseling your way through the maze of financial regulations or playing in the gray area. Fines, lawsuits, and brand reputation scandals are nothing to trifle with. Wells Fargo will likely survive this crisis, but they have a long and uphill road ahead to recover from the damage to their brand. Banks need to hold themselves accountable for compliance before regulators or customers force them to do so. (More insights into proactively protecting yourself from non-compliance risks: keep reading.)

Wells Fargo’s mistakes will likely go down in banking industry history as examples of What Not to Do. Don’t let the same thing happen to your bank, whether you’re a national household name or a regional staple. If you’re going to earn press headlines, make sure they’re good ones. Listen to the Voice of the Customer, build an internal culture to support customer experience quality, and stay on the regulatory straight-and-narrow.


Our readers in the banking industry may also be interested in:

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CXcellence: 3 Companies Customers Love

October 3, 2016

In a competitive business climate that increasingly revolves around customer experience (CX), there is much to be learned from companies who have made a name for themselves based on quality of customer service. Below is an overview of some of the most prominent industry leaders and what makes them excel.

USAA: Maintaining trust through technology

In 2015, Forrester published its annual Customer Experience Index, a survey of nearly 46,000 consumers. USAA is one of the highest ranking companies in terms of customer experience, and has maintained this reputation for years. The Index indicates that over half of USAA customers are “highly engaged.” Just to compare: AAA, the next highest ranking insurance company, can only call 34.7% of its insurance customers “highly engaged.”

One of the things USAA excels at is maintaining trust. When asked if their insurance company was “always there when I need them,” 45% of USAA customers strongly agreed, compared to a 28% score for insurance companies in general. What gives USAA their cutting edge is the way they have implemented this trust factor into their technology. As USAA has no walk-in locations, the fact that their customers deem them “easy to do business with” is mostly due to the way they use technology. USAA makes it a point to only implement technology that has been demonstrated to improve member experience.

A good example is the Deposit@Mobile® technology, which lets customers take a picture of their check and immediately (and securely) deposit it into their USAA account. While this functionality is no longer unique to USAA, it still shows a commitment to a modern and responsive customer experience. As Greg Schwartz, former CIO, put it: “Whatever devices the members have, we’re going to be there for them.”

Ally Bank: Approachability is key

Ally Bank is another company that scores high on the Forrester CX Index. Compared to the traditional banking industry, this all-digital bank’s customers give it a higher than average score on all three aspects of customer experience quality: effectiveness, ease, and emotions. Nearly 75% of customers would recommend the company to a family member or friend.

What sets Ally Bank apart from many other banks is their direct approach to banking. They have no minimum deposits and no monthly maintenance fees, but do provide 24/7 live customer service. They not only offer a wide range of services, but also terms varying from three months to five years on most of their financial products. Prioritizing accessibility and service makes Ally Bank approachable to nearly everybody, from the most modest saver to the biggest spender.

Amazon: Customer obsessed
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: "Our focus is on customer obsession, not competitor obsession."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: “Our focus is on customer obsession, not competitor obsession.”

It’s not surprising that a company that was recently inducted into the Customer Service Hall of Fame, and found to be one of the most relevant brands to U.S. consumers in the 2016 Forbes Brand Relevance Index, would spend a lot of its effort improving CX. For Amazon, it’s all about the customer. Or, as founder Jeff Bezos puts it: “Our focus is on customer obsession rather than competitor obsession.”

This obsession with the customer and his or her needs translates into Amazon’s uniquely tailored services. The Prime membership – providing free shipping to loyal customers, among many other extras – is already a household name. More recent innovations include the in-home wireless speaker Echo and its voice-activated service Alexa. As Alexa’s artificial intelligence learns more about customers’ preferences, she is able to provide a personal experience that makes them feel heard and understood – while simultaneously influencing their shopping behavior.

These three businesses have all found successful ways to put their customers first – and reap the benefits. Remember: while customer experience is evolving, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Pay attention to what your peers and other industry leaders are doing, and invest in Voice of the Customer solutions, to fuel continuous improvement for your customers.


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Are CMOs Ready to Take Responsibility for the Customer Experience?

June 22, 2016

Should Chief Marketing Officers be customer experience experts? Looking at the increasing trend of CMOs becoming the chief managers of customer experience (or CX) for their brands, the answer is a resounding yes.

According to a recent Gartner study, a considerable number of CMOs say the most-increased expectation their CEOs have of them, is that they lead customer experience. A corroborating report by Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud and Deloitte, titled Bridging the Digital Divide: How CMOs Can Rise to Meet Five Expanding Expectations,” names customer acquisition, personal experiences and customer engagement as the top three external marketing priorities of a CMO. Sanjay Dholakia, CMO at Marketo, even goes so far as to say that by 2020, CMOs will have become responsible for the entire customer journey.

While CX may not traditionally be regarded as a marketing function, new research unequivocally proves it to be not only a decisive factor in brand identity, but also in differentiation within the marketplace. Customer expectations have evolved: a 2015 study found that 42% of Americans would turn away from a branQuote to support CMOs involvement in CXd after just two negative experiences.

Positive customer experiences, on the other hand, not only influence the way a bank is perceived, but also play an active role in retention and repeat business through customer loyalty, and eventually in increased revenue. According to the Gartner study, 89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience in 2016. Whereas the quality of customer service was once seen as a separate, ‘internal’ issue, nowadays it’s an inextricable and decisive factor in a bank’s advertising and marketing strategy.

That said, the question is not whether CMOs should become the stewards of their bank’s CX. The question is: are they up to the task? “It’s a new expectation and it’s a difficult expectation,” says Laura McLellan, VP-Marketing Strategies at Gartner.

When the study asked CMOs about the areas in which they’d made the most progress, customer experience came in last.

Clearly it’s not just customers who are on a journey; a lot of CMOs have journeys of their own ahead of them. Challenges include tying together web, commerce, and mobile technologies to not leave any gaps in quality; centralizing customer data; and providing customers with the best possible interactions with every part of the bank, down to each branch.

This may sound daunting, but like every journey, building up great CX starts with a single step. There is no need for CMOs to reinvent the wheel: the expertise to research customers’ experiences and help enhance them is already at hand. CSP has nearly 30 years of experience with customer satisfaction research and improvement, specializing in financial services. Our seasoned experts and proprietary tools can help you along your individual journey.

One thing is certain: as marketers invest more in improving customer experience, and banks adopt CX as one of their most important strategies for staying ahead of the competition, no CMO can afford to stay behind. In order to be prepared for the future, take the first step now.