Customer experience receives a lot of attention in Silicon Valley. But among finance companies on Wall Street and in other fields and locales, this vital element appears more often to be missing from the equation.
The Importance of the Customer Experience
Customer experience can most accurately be described as the sum total of all the interactions a customer has with a business or organization. It basically encapsulates the customer’s feelings about the brand and everything it offers.
As Zendesk customer-service evangelist Dave Dyson explains, “It involves every way a customer interacts with a company, at all stages of the customer journey—including the marketing materials they see before they become a customer, the sales experience, the quality of the product or service itself, and the customer service they receive post-purchase.”
Although most financial services firms refer to customer service as an integral part of their overarching strategy, they don’t give much attention to customer experience. And contrary to what many might think, they are not identical.
Customer service is just one facet of the overall customer journey. And, to be honest, most customer service interactions might actually become irrelevant and unnecessary if customer experience were made a greater priority.
Customer service is often what happens when the experience between customer and brand has already broken down. You can think of it as the “maintenance department” for your customers.
Good customer experience, on the other hand, is closer to preventive maintenance. It’s the stuff you do proactively—one would hope—to invest in and preserve the relationship.
According to a brand-new study of customer experience, 50 percent of customers will make the switch to a competitor after a single bad experience with a firm. If more than one bad experience occurs, that rate readily jumps to 80 percent.
One of the biggest problems with the financial services industry is that it’s historically been very difficult for a customer to switch banks, lenders, or brokerage firms. So these organizations haven’t felt much incentive to prioritize customer experience.
They certainly might have full-fledged customer-service departments, but their priority has always been putting out fires, rather than seeking to prevent them in the first place. But this has begun to change.
Digitization of financial services, as well as the decentralized finance (DeFi) movement, has created a new sense of urgency among traditional finance operators. It’s becoming easier for clients to choose where they move their money or place financial resources.
And if organizations don’t make a stronger effort to prioritize customer experience, they’ll end up on the outside looking in.
Ways to Improve Customer Experience in Financial Services
Enhancing the customer experience requires a comprehensive analysis of every element of your customer-facing activities. And though every organization is different, here are several proactive steps you could take:
- Improve processes. Better processes are one of the biggest keys to success. Say, for example, that you’re a business lender. Streamlining the loan process to make it easier for business owners to submit tax forms and documents via a no-hassle portal could make a huge difference.
- Take training seriously. It’s time to stop regarding employee training as a box to check off and start seeing it as a critical factor in developing a team that puts customer experience first. Teach your staff to prioritize the client and their entire mindset will shift.
- Collect and utilize the right data. Fifteen years ago, the challenge was how to collect enough data. Today, financial services firms have more data than they know what to do with. The key is to filter the information so you understand it. Once you can do that, it becomes a matter of using those insights to implement positive change.
If you make these tweaks, your customer experience will instantly elevate to new levels. At the very least, this should keep you competitive with newer and more nimble organizations that are rising swiftly to the top of the industry. More than likely, it’ll set you head and shoulders above the competition.
Adding it All Up
It’s up to you to determine when and where to make changes. The goal isn’t to totally overturn your entire approach to business.
Instead, you are going to identify areas where you can improve the existing experience and help people connect better with the mission and value you provide. Small, incremental changes can be surprisingly rewarding.