By : Andy Brown
August 13, 2016 04:08 PM
One of the defining trends of retail banking - and many other sectors – in the 21st century has been the rising power of the consumer. The growth of new channels like online and mobile banking means consumers have more ways to manage their money than ever before, while the emergence of challenger banks and online-only providers has created an unprecedented level of choice.
In this environment, one of the key factors distinguishing one brand from another is the quality of the customer experience. One of the many reasons this is so important is brand loyalty – something that marketers dedicate a lot of time and resources to achieving. Customers who have a positive experience are much more likely to feel loyal to their bank and to recommend it to others, as well as increase the range of products or services they use from their bank.
Customer experience looks set to become even more important over the coming years, so banks that want to stay ahead of the curve should be taking action now.
A 'strategic necessity'
In a recent report, research firm Frost & Sullivan said delivering a high-quality omni-channel customer experience is "not an option, but a strategic necessity". It predicted that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator, with those companies that underperform in this area likely to lose customers and suffer reputational damage.
A key finding from the research showed that more than seven out of 10 customers (71 percent) cited timeliness, simplicity and efficiency as critical characteristics of the services they use. Respondents also said they expect easy access anywhere, anytime and via any device.
The study was carried out in collaboration with communications provider Tetherfi, whose chief strategy and growth officer, Jayesh Pajwani, said, "Customers want their interactions to be uniform, consistent, personalized, secure and timely irrespective of the channel, whether through self-service, support agents or face-to-face. Such expectations are forcing brands to rethink their customer contact strategy and establish one that delivers a truly omni-channel experience."
Using software to get ahead
With so many elements of modern business and consumer engagement reliant on technology, having the right software in place is crucial for banks seeking to deliver the best possible customer experience.
Cutting-edge software platforms provide relevant and engaging ways for customers to interact with their banks digitally and in person, and offer new tools for financial institutions in areas like security, fraud detection, transaction processing and branch transformation.
One bank that is taking full advantage of the latest software solutions in its drive to optimize customer experience is New Zealand's ASB.
The company said in a statement: "ASB has chosen NCR to develop its next generation of self-service banking solutions for its ATM fleet. Planned enhancements to our self-service environment include an upgrade to APTRA Activate and migration to NCR's CxBanking suite, which will deliver richer and personalized interactions for our customers.”
"In particular, these developments will underpin innovations for business and personal customers currently using ASB's award-winning mobile banking applications. We will also be replacing our proprietary ATM network management system with NCR's latest APTRA Vision to drive improvement in monitoring and reporting capability."
There is no doubt that delivering a strong, consistent customer experience is a big challenge, particularly in our modern era of rapid technological development and evolving consumer expectations. But those financial institutions that equip themselves with the right software will be the best-placed to continue providing the personalized, reliable and universally accessible services their customers expect.