12 things every successful retail banker knows on Customer Experience

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Customer ExperienceWe are truly in the age of the customer. There is probably more buzz about your customer experience outside of your channels as they are inside it. I can imagine that running a banking operation can be incredibly difficult and complex.

My own personal experience as a customer with my bank has been delightful. I have had just one lasting relationship with my bank for close to 20 years now, while others have fallen by the wayside. I speak or write to only one individual (my relationship manager) in the bank, do everything online through the app or website, never called the call center in the past 12 years, never issued a cheque for over five years – took the digital route to save my own time and gain control. Same with my investment partner too. I wish life was that simple for banks.

Banks (and more broadly the BFSI segment) have the most interesting challenge in customer experience. Unlike many other categories, banks serve multiple product ranges, multiple customer segments in terms of value and customer demographics. To effectively win across journey points, across channels and touch points consistently, institutions need a very nimble approach to everyday improvement. LitmusWorld, a contextual conversations platform has made this simpler.

Through our work with over a dozen BFSI companies in the past year, we have found a few key ingredients of success. It is a short list of a dozen ‘rules’ amidst over a few dozen ‘must-do’ items that millions of consumers have told us through the contextual conversations. So, in no particular order of importance, here’s our short list:

  • The service-profit chain is more relevant than ever before. The 4 virtuous cycle steps of motivated employees – great service quality – loyal customers – profitable revenue should be the driving force. If you are studying the customer experience of a channel or a branch, start with what is the employee experience. Or at least start the linkages. Don’t let your organisation silos come in the way of a clear view of employee engagement leading to great customer experience.
  • Measure, measure, measure in context, measure in real-time, measure across the journey and measure continuously. Understanding emotions on a continuous basis through a quantification approach is the beginning of the improvement journey.
  • Start small but be sure to scale up quick as positive emotions from customers drive loyalty. According to the US Banking Customer Experience Index, 2017, 90 per cent customers from the direct banking industry who felt valued, advocated the brand.
  • No one has perfect consumer data – so don’t wait for the perfect level of data quality.
  • Go beyond measurement – Consumers need to be heard. If you are ever doing any market research and not acting on individual comments, you probably need to stop that now.
  • Get the right balance between spray-and-pray campaigns and contextual conversations. The world of one-way advertising and direct marketing is increasingly delivering very low ROI. Today’s consumers want to participate. Don’t let your size mislead you that it is not possible to have genuine conversations across the touchpoints. Clients normally tell us that they get less than 0.5 per cent response to their campaigns. Will contextual conversations do any better? We typically prove to them that a 5 to 15 per cent response is easily possible if we approach it with a genuine real-time process of action management.
  • Focus on journeys, not just touch points. Brands sometimes take a simplistic approach to CX by measuring performance across some touch points and not on others. Consumers are keen to get their tasks done and they need an ‘omni-channel’ solution to great CX.
  • Customer experience is a culture. It is not always that organisations have the right structure to enable great customer experience. Don’t let your organisation structure and silos come in the way of great customer experience. Keep a nimble central team that can play the orchestra and ensuring that the ‘main thing is kept the main thing’. True consumer experience issues escalate to inter-department rivalries and it becomes more important for the leadership team to keep the strong customer-centric culture above everything else.
  • Your call centre is NOT Your solution. Don’t get me wrong here. Some great managers run customer service departments in banks but the fundamental truth is, if consumers need to call you for help, something is already broken in customer experience. Brands with such large consumer base always find it difficult to provide a great experience at this channel. Its about time that you actively focussed on self-service channels and mobile apps. That is true for bank branches too.
  • Benchmark In, don’t benchmark Out. Your CEM platform should throw up insightful leaderboards on which branches are you winning the CX battle, where you are losing, which channels are you winning, what you are not, what products, what customer life stages – all of these throw benchmarks on how your top quintile hierarchies are doing, how your bottom quintile is failing you.
  • 3 things are transforming the possibilities in customer experience – Mobile, Cloud and AI. Balancing security and speed is important, but most organisations are still choosing in favour of internal hosted infrastructure vs the cloud. Our only urge would be to constantly revisit this model – in today’s context if you need to keep pace, I am sure there are solutions balancing cloud and on-premise models that can be created. Our own tokenization server models help many banks preserve their PII while implementing our full-fledged platform.
  • Build Strong ROI evaluation metrics for your programs. Too often, CX programs lose steam because they disproportionately focus on measurement and research and too less on ROI. If your customer experience is creating advocates, it is time to ask them to bring in new consumers. They are probably only waiting for you to ask. Highly satisfied customers tend to invest more in their relationship with banks. According to Mc Kinsey, banking customers are seven times more likely to increase their deposits and twice as likely to open an additional account if they rate a bank as excellent (with a customer-satisfaction score of nine or ten out of ten) rather than average (six to eight out of ten).

Best day, every day” philosophy of continuous improvement is embedded across our engagement with over 100 brands we work within the customer experience, employee engagement and performance marketing domains. Across the 30 million contextual conversations initiated, we’ve enabled business leaders across industries to dramatically improve their stakeholder experience.  All in real-time and made simple!

Writer’s Profile

Ramesh Natarajan, Founder – LitmusWorld

Ramesh is an entrepreneur & executive with over 25 years of experience globally in customer management, sales & marketing and research across industries. He is the former VP & CEO, DHL Express. Alumnus of IIT Bombay, IIFT New Delhi.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banking & Finance Post.

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