Insights for Financial Institutions in Today’s Customer Experience Landscape
For financial services companies, the pandemic was just one source of disruption. Consumers’ increasingly always-online lifestyle further upended the traditional service model, driving brands toward more customer-centric solutions. Today, consumers expect fully seamless and personalized experiences.
Given this new reality, how can financial institutions define their brand by the experiences they deliver in a way that resonates with each customer?
Steve Sievert, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Brand Management at PULSE®, addressed this new digital landscape and what it means for debit in a recent webinar, Every Moment Matters – Meeting the Demands of a New Customer Age.
“Conscious consumers today want to do business and interact with brands that stand for a greater good and not just the bottom line.”
Steve Sievert, PULSE® Executive Vice President, Marketing and Brand Management.
New consumer expectations
The digital revolution was well underway before the pandemic. But lockdowns and social distancing pushed consumers into online channels in droves, changing behaviors and expectations. Today, instant access from anywhere is nonnegotiable. The data explosion from this behavioral change gives financial institutions an opportunity to deliver the type of personalized, experience-centric digital journeys that customers want.
In this ecosystem, institutions should innovate in a way that not only retains customers but turns them into influential brand advocates who boost acquisition. “It starts with reevaluating your institution’s values and then responding authentically based on a revised set of priorities guided by new expectations from your customers or members,” Sievert explained.
Consumers are also responding to so-called megatrends, such as sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion and wellness. They engage with companies that embrace these values and weave them into their business models.
“Conscious consumers today want to do business and interact with brands that stand for a greater good and not just the bottom line,” Sievert said.
Six ways to make the customer the hero of your story
Financial institutions are competing on customer experience (CX) with all brands, not just with one another. Their CX competitors span across industries ranging from e-commerce retailers to ride-hailing apps. And issuers are making inroads. For example, according to the 2022 PULSE® Debit Issuer Study, 62% of issuers offer both physical and digital instant-access debit cards upon account opening, enabling new account holders to use their card as soon as they leave the branch. This positions issuers to be viewed as problem solvers.
Similarly, more than 40% of issuers surveyed said they planned to provide cards made with sustainable materials to meet customer demand for greater environmental awareness.
Yet, Sievert noted that there are challenges. A patchwork of technology at many financial institutions leads to customer data silos, making personalized engagement across the enterprise a challenging endeavor.
What does this mean for debit, and how can issuers differentiate themselves? Issuers should focus on six priorities, Sievert advised.
1. Link CX to value
In today’s information-saturated world, customers don’t need more choices to have a positive CX. In fact, they often need brands to limit the choices and present them with the right options at the right time. Many are willing to pay a premium for that.
Take opportunities to build CX into every channel and every touchpoint that you have with your customers and members, Sievert advised. Unlike competing on price, which is a one-time event, experience encompasses multiple moments that persist over time. In all, 94% of consumers have said that a positive consumer experience makes them more likely to make another purchase, according to a survey by Salesforce.
2. Consolidate priorities
To effectively manage CX, it’s necessary to prioritize your tasks. Start by gaining an understanding of what it is like to do business with your bank or credit union, so you have a firm grasp of the customer journey through every interaction. Sequence these tasks thoughtfully, and make sure to test your hypotheses.
3. Make data-informed decisions
Use the data you collect from your customers and members to identify their pain points and guide business decisions. You can do this by mapping customer journeys and creating personas. Ethnographic research can help inform your efforts.
4. Foster creativity
Challenge long-held institutional orthodoxies by embracing a culture of creativity. Run ideation sessions to generate creative solutions. Delivering friction-free experiences and solving problems for your customers or members takes creativity, technology and data.
5. Talk to customers
Don’t be afraid to find out what your customers and members think of your bank or credit union. In-branch surveys can elicit important feedback. Use the insights obtained for rapid test-and-learn scenarios and experimentation. Design pilots, success metrics, tests and control groups for subsets of your client base.
6. Share ownership of CX
To put CX experience front and center of your organization, all departments must understand the customer impact of day-to-day decisions. Form cross-functional journey teams to ensure that CX is at the heart of all activities. Use data-driven customer feedback to inform decision-making. Finally, set up and use CX measurement tools to understand if you are making progress.
To learn more about today’s consumer demands and how you can respond, watch the full webinar and download the 2022 PULSE® Debit Issuer Study.