Customer experience in the digital era: A focus on keeping banking customers digitally delighted

Published July 27, 2021

By Deborah Onyabe

Customer experience has always been a huge focal point for financial institutions (FIs) and the need to keep customers delighted remains top of mind. While some FIs have found the secret to exciting and satisfying their customers, many more still struggle with it. How can they measure customer experience? How can they infuse customer delight in their customer interactions? And what activities enhance positive customer experience that will keep them coming back again and again?

Competition exists between FIs and it’s not always based on sophisticated technology, innovative and cutting-edge ideas, product pricing or location; a lot of it depends on basic customer experience. How are banks able to weave together an experience worthy of keeping customers engaged, delighted and eager to recommend their FIs’ product and services to friends and family?

To measure customer experience, banks sometimes use various survey methods (like those Gallup offers) which grades customer responses to basic questions about their visit to a branch, including interactions with bank employees. Banking management can then use the results to coach team members who received low customer experience scores to make improvements. And if they receive repeat low customer experience scores, the team members can be placed on a performance improvement plan to enhance their customer service and problem-solving skills. On the other hand, team members with high customer experience scores are rewarded.

In a digital world, where, according to Business Insider, over 75 percent of banking customers do their own banking digitally, the question remains: How do banks transition the level of granular service customers get with in-branch experiences to the digital realm? How will they ensure that their customers are delighted each time they interact with their banks on any digital platform? Is it even important to care if customers are delighted digitally? After all, you don’t see them so why should it matter?

FIs need to pay close attention to every one of their channels, whether that’s online, mobile or at the branch, and ensure that every response and functionality is very granular. So, to make sure your customer experience remains world-class, it’s very important that FIs listen to what their customers need and ensure that the customer experience—at every touch point—remains top notch. So how can you achieve this? Keep reading.

How do you rate your mobile app?


In today’s world, there’s an app for everything—if you can think of it, there is an app for it. Banks have long been offering digital apps to make banking easier for their customers. An FIS Consumer Banking Report found that about 72 percent of customer interactions with their banks happens digitally and the bulk of that interaction happens on mobile devices. That means customers have one or more FI apps on their devices. Forbes Advisor further reports that 76 percent of banking customers use their bank’s mobile app while transacting with their FI. And if mobile apps have taken over the digital sphere at such an astronomical rate, it’s worth scrutinizing.

So, let’s talk about those mobile apps and their functionality. How successful are they? What are customers saying about them? And what have banks been doing to fix performance gaps to enhance customer experience? When it comes to app performance gaps, it’s necessary to hear about the problem directly from the customer. Most of them will rate FI apps positively or negatively based on ease of use, bug fixes, slow response time, screen freezing issues, app crashes and more—which ideally should very rarely occur. Excellent functionality of these digital platforms is crucial to a delightful customer experience.

If, after taking a look at FI mobile app customer reviews from several sources, you still see issues with bug fixes, clunky apps, and an interface it’s crucial to get a handle on the problem. FIs have a responsibility to examine and follow up with how their apps are doing in the digital stores, detect performance gaps and fix them. It’s important to listen to customer concerns, address them and engage customers in those marketplaces by responding to comments, concerns, and questions. Especially without face-to-face interactions with you, it goes a long way when customers feel heard. It enhances their experience and their confidence in their FI.

Delighting customers goes beyond the value FIs bring to them in person. When they’re online it’s even more important to engage with your customers, let them know you appreciate them and give them the best experience—especially with more and more of your customers performing their banking online (and they need your technology to work seamlessly for them).

Real-time customer assistance


With the growing use of online banking, it’s important for FIs to make real-time help available to their customers all the time—24/7 assistance is crucial. If a customer decides to do a loan application at 2 a.m., they should be able to get immediate assistance if they experience any difficulty and need immediate help.

That can be a big ask for any FI which makes the use of artificial intelligence and automated processes to augment 24/7 assistance so important. AI-enabled processes and chatbots can help you cut down on the need to consistently increase staffing and customers can get answers and assistance faster. And when customers call in to ask for help, rather than wait on hold for a long time hoping to get a hold of a bank representative, a chatbot can take over to quickly resolve issues—and the less they have to wait the more delighted they’ll be.

FIs should evaluate which AI and automation investments are right for their business and their customers, and put processes in place to ensure the technology is working properly, seamlessly, and efficiently. Your chatbots should do what they’re supposed to do without ending up annoying your customer. If they can’t handle certain conversations and customers keep repeating their request without the chatbot understanding them, they can easily become frustrated. So FIs need to test and ensure that their automated processes are functioning flawlessly.

Personalized tailored services


Another way FIs can improve customer experience is by personalizing services and experiences for their customers. FIs need to understand how their customers do their banking, what their common needs are and anticipate and handle them in a timely manner. Customers are always looking for products and services relevant to their needs so identifying them before they ask and making personalized suggestions is very crucial in delighting customers—and increasing their overall satisfaction with your service.

You can also personalize services through customer journey mapping. As customers engage and interact with your FI across various channels, they’re establishing a customer journey map which presents you with a great opportunity to understand their needs better. It aids your ability to tailor services and targeted product offerings. Customer journey mapping helps you learn and understand the various intersections and touch points the customer has with your FI across various channels so you can be privy to what each customer is looking for.

Innovative data collection and analytics generated through various touch points with customers, and through journey mapping, helps you build better relationships with your customers. And the better the relationship, the more loyal and engaged they’ll be.

Tailored services also include recognizing the customer’s transaction pattern. When an unusual transaction occurs within a customer’s account, FIs must be proactive to recognize it and alert the customer. The same applies for the use of a debit or credit card at an unusual location or website. Checking in with the customer to verify unusual transactions before it’s approved builds trust and confidence and it also reduces the potential for loss claims.

Proactively educating customers on topics most relevant to them through targeted digital content is vital. If a customer spends a good amount of time looking at mortgage rates, there’s a decent chance they’re looking to buy a home or refinance a mortgage. What a pleasant surprise it might be for the customer to begin seeing relevant educational resources on their digital devices for home buying tips or mortgage rate comparison tools. When customers receive banking information and the education they need without having to search for it themselves, it enhances their customer experience. It keeps them loyal and delighted as they know they can trust their FI to educate them on all their banking concerns.

Make security a huge priority


With the rise in digital banking comes new and increased threats to financial and personal data security. Many customers who bank online routinely input personal information on various banking and financial platforms. So, it’s important for FIs to safeguard customer information from hackers. Customers are very sensitive when it comes to the security of their personal data. In fact, years ago many consumers wouldn’t use online banking because they were skeptical about providing their personal information online. They just didn’t trust the security of those channels.

So, to keep customers digitally delighted, FIs must be proactive about data security and protection to earn and keep their customer’s trust. There’s no better way to lose customers than with an online platform where the security is in question and data leaks and breaches often happen—and one data breach is one too many. FIs can’t afford such errors. To keep customers digitally delighted, and to protect and enhance their experience, customers must feel safe and secure when they interact with their FI.

Making a full throttle investment into a world-class security infrastructure is worth it when it means avoiding a tarnished reputation and loss of business as result of a cyber-attack that leads to identity theft. A Javelin survey by Experian shows that in 2019, 13 million people were affected by identity theft with fraud losses of about $17 billion. When that happens on an FIs watch, it can take years to handle the fallout including any impact it had on their customers—and that usually means providing credit monitoring for a few years. And some situations can be dire, depending on the type of loss suffered, some customers may choose to sue their FI.

Overall, any cyber-attack that results in customers’ data being breached leads to loss of customers, their trust and certainly a negative customer experience (at the very least). So FIs are wise to invest in the right security infrastructure to keep their customers delighted, grow their client base and increase their wallet share. 

When they’re digitally delighted, earning customer loyalty is simple


When customers feel safe and heard and feel like they can trust their FI, it enhances their customer experience. They do more business with the FI, refer their friends and family and spread the good word about their experiences. Keeping customers digitally delighted should be of utmost importance to FIs. It starts by acknowledging, listening and engaging them, making sure digital infrastructures work seamlessly and, above all, keep customer data safe and protected. And working on giving your customers digital delightful experiences doesn’t have to be a burdensome task—it can actually be easy and attainable. Simple is possible when you put your customers’ needs first.

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