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Retail Banking: Customer Experience Reinvents Financial Services

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How can retail banks and financial institutions survive in a world where customers only need fifteen minutes to open a bank account online? How can they attract and engage clients able to carry out transactions with one single tap on the screen of the smartphone? Easy, they need to put the experience in the equation.

Retail banking customer experience is not a recent topic. Without customers, there won’t even be the need for financial operators. What has changed, in the last ten years or so, is technology, and customer behaviors with it. In the age of digital and mobile, banks need to embrace the digital transformation and reinvent themselves to survive.

When we talk about the effects of the Internet and mobile technology, we usually focus on companies that battle in the consumer products industry. With the emergence of a new generation of customers (the so-called Millennials), however, every single marketplace has become more demanding and competitive. So banks are evaluated just like any other brand.

Today’s customers - empowered by disruptive devices and submerged in a world of connectivity - no longer consider their experiences in an industry-silo. They evaluate the experience following precise standards, regardless the industry: all brands compete against each other to establish a satisfying relationship with clients through a compelling experience.

What does this mean for retail banks? That they need to build a digital customer experience that is amazing not only compared to all other financial institutions, but compared to the leading firms in other industries. The implication is evident: If they want to stay top of mind and retain customer loyalty, banks must learn to build an improved customer journey and use it as a competitive differentiator.​

According to the Global Consumer Banking Survey 2014 by Ernst & Young, “in many ways, consumer banking is like other types of consumer activity. But banking customers expect more than an excellent mix of products: they are looking for superior customer experiences that fulfill basic expectations while providing added value.

In the survey - which included responses from more than 32,000 retail banking customers across 43 countries - customers selected ‘the way I am treated’ as the second most important reason for trusting their bank, following (of course) ‘financial stability’. Even more important, customer experience is also considered “the most common reason for opening and closing accounts, more so than fees, rates, locations, and convenience.

You are not judged by what you produce or sell as much as you are judged by the experience you create: it all comes down to this for companies competing in the digital arena. A motto that also becomes a strong invitation for banks and insurances to reimagine their identity, together with their retail strategy, content marketing, engagement, and loyalty.  

The scenario is rapidly taking shape in front of our eyes:

  • New customers - more demanding and tech-savvy, connected 24/7;
  • New competitors - online and digital banks, lowering the costs for clients;
  • New technologies - mobile banking and direct payments (Android Pay, Apple Pay);
  • New forms of payment - the infamous Bitcoins, the swap economy and the economy of experience.

What is the definition of positive customer experience in banking? In an era of mistrust in financial institutions, digital leaders need to bear this question in mind all the time. There is more to the building of a strong connection than the development of a mobile app and the speed of a transaction.

We know that customers constantly live - and move - across different channels, digital and physical. As they use multiple touch points to connect with a company, they expect that banking experience is built to be easy, fast, personalized and accessible wherever they are, whenever they need it and whatever device they are using. This requires a shift from the ‘account mind-set’ to the relationship with the customer.

Starting from what has been already done, and what we - as Neosperience - have accomplished working with best-in-class clients, we can trace five major areas of improvement:

PERSONALIZED JOURNEY

Today's customers should not be considered - in a marketing perspective - as a generic and indistinct group of financial accounts. Client's value is more than just the amount of money transferred and deposited. Delivering personalized experiences (i.e. with proximity marketing) across all stages of the customer journey, you will be able to manage a one to one communication, tailor-cut the experience and gather critical information you can use for behavioral targeting.

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY

Banks and financial institutions are already taking advantage of technology to improve efficiency and cut the costs. Now they have to take a further step, and implement innovations to create better experience. The purpose is to convert the idea of banking from a cold and frustrating experience to a simplified and streamlined one. Technology drives a change in how customers use their money (mobile payments, banking mobile app), and how banks change their essence (the Internet of Things, gamification, reinvented loyalty).

REAL-TIME DATA

"Big Data: everybody talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it." If there is an industry that needs to learn how to employ big data, that is banking. All information gathered through digital and physical channels can help banks to understand what their customers want and, consequently, elevate the quality of service. The best way to use big data is to implement an analytics dashboard to transforma data into actionable predictions.

INBOUND MARKETING

Financial services providers and inbound marketing are more connected than it may seem. Traditional advertising is too expensive, with a skyrocketing cost per conversion. The best way to attract qualified leads and guide them to conversion is to establish your brand as the primary source to find information and solve customers' problems. Content marketing - the core of the inbound methodology - allows banks to connect with clients in a non-intrusive way, helping and educating them.

SOCIAL CONNECTIONS

What do social media have to do with banking customer experience? Everything. Presiding over relevant social networks, a bank is able to show its human side, too often hidden behind bureaucracy and cold numbers. Facebook, Twitter and Co. allow you to build trust, provide a superior customer service in real-time (just think about Facebook Messenger), answer promptly to challenges, questions and threats. And - why not? - sell your products through social advertising and buy buttons.

Growing expectations and the almost endless pool of financial institutions fighting to conquer customer’s heart (and provide a wide range of products) mean that banks must reshape their marketing strategy, customer service, and CRM. The only way for banks to achieve a successful transition to digital is to focus on key areas to increase customer retention, raise the brand value and ultimately deliver amazing experiences.

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To help you provide a strategic advantage to your organization, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download the free guide here:

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Topics: Digital Customer Experience Financial Services Content Marketing Inbound Marketing Payment Big Data Mobile