When it comes to the customer experience, many challenges that banks face are rooted in technology. But it’s not what you think – at least, not exactly.
The immediate (and obvious) challenge is the adoption of banking technology. An estimated 88% of Americans own smartphones, and they’re using them to do banking, from checking their account balances, to paying bills, to opening new accounts. In fact, at least half of all banking operations now occur online.
And yet, adopting mobile technology – building a bank app and enabling digital banking services – is not the only technological barrier to an improved customer experience. Indeed, technology has removed much of the face-to-face bank-customer interactions, which can cause decreases in customer loyalty. Today, it’s easy to shop around. It’s easy to open a new account at another bank. It’s easy to download a new app. It’s easy to walk away.
So, how can banks improve the customer experience? Here are 5 tips and best practices:
- Understand the Customer Journey
- Improve the Local Branch Experience
- Empower Bank Employees
- Embrace Online Banking Technology
- Never Stop Improving
Read on to find out how to put these strategies to use to improve the customer experience.
The first step to identifying opportunities for an improved customer experience is to understand the banking journey your customer takes.
First and foremost, know that the end-to-end banking customer journey is not linear. There will be stops and starts, circles-back and false-starts. Your customers will use multiple devices. They will make phone calls. They may even show up in person. Collect data and explore these various points of contact. Understand your mix of contact channels – your website and email, your contact center and local branches, your social media and online chat.
When you have a solid, unified view of all these touch points, you will have a better understanding of the path your customers follow. This path serves as a blueprint for improving the customer experience: How can you better meet customer needs? How can you reduce their frustrations? What other products might they need, that you can develop?
In a post so heavily focused on customer-centered banking technology, it seems strange to start with the in-person experience. But here we are, and we’ll tell you why: This is your chance to shine.
When customers walk into your bank, what do they see? Are they greeted with a somber wall of self-service machines? Is there a single teller window open? Are bank employees hidden behind office doors? Is your bank sterile and practically painted in red tape?
Start here. Remember, an estimated 40% of business still requires an in-person visit. You want that visit to be positive. Nay, stellar. You want to outperform your customers’ expectations. Outshine the competition. Wow them with your friendly service. Impress them with your relaxed, inviting atmosphere. Show them that they’re welcome, that you’re there to serve – not to shepherd them to a self-service machine.
Sometimes, a better customer experience can be as simple as knowledgeable bank employees. Indeed, proper training of your customer “front line,” so to speak, ensures that your employees not only have the answers to customer questions, but also understand the technologies your bank uses. At the very least, all bank employees should have immediate access to up-to-date, accurate information – or a portal to easily search for that information. Most importantly, employees should be empowered with relevant information so that they can service their customers better, both in-person and through their digital channels.
Today, it’s not enough to do what everyone else is doing. To be sure, your bank must offer the standard online services – account access, online bill pay, etc. – but to provide an exceptional customer experience, you must go beyond. You must innovate.
With fingerprint readers, card readers, and other new and emerging financial technologies, which ensure privacy and reduce fraud concerns, banks can empower their clientele with increasingly innovative technologies to facilitate the customer journey and improve customer satisfaction. You could:
- Add digital payment options to your mobile services to cut through standard banking red tape.
- Allow customers to initiate in-branch transactions via a mobile device, to be completed in person using their smartphones’ Near Field Capabilities (NFC) features.
- Employ ever-evolving biometrics, such as retina scanning, to reduce customer frustrations while increasing online banking security.
- Use bank marketing, social media, and other contact points to create more targeted, relevant customer offers.
As LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, said, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
Of course, in banking, you don’t want to rush out an unfinished product. But the quote is sound: Push the envelope. Innovate. Do more for your customers than the competition is doing, both in person and in the digital sphere, and you’ll win their loyalty and business. If you understood the wants and needs of your customers, you could innovate with real knowledge of what is likely to work and what your customers actually need.