by Jim Kershaw
Across the many insightful presentations at CXFS 2018, the word “agile” was mentioned frequently. And rightfully so: to deliver world-class customer experience, financial services industry (FSI) firms must adapt to ever-changing technologies, competitive forces, and customer needs.
Digital strategy, the primary battlefront for CX innovation in this sector, was the centerpiece of this conference. In his opening address, conference chair Ernie Megazzini from Oracle described the potential for “digital transformation” to drive share of wallet, customer satisfaction, and accelerated delivery of financial services. The key to this transformation? The ability to leverage customer data to provide customized, streamlined, in-the-moment solutions, whenever and however the customer chooses to engage with the provider. Here are five key takeaways from CXFS:
FSI firms delivering world-class CX are able to effectively collect and integrate many forms of customer listening, including relationship and transactional surveys, multi-channel transactional data, customer support interactions, and social media feedback.
- Of course, unified customer insights platforms with advanced analytics are a critical component to success in this area. Many compelling case studies highlighting the power of technology platforms were provided in conference presentations by FSI CX leaders and solution providers alike.
- Moreover, FSI firms with the greatest success also align CX team structures and processes to act on the insights. Karen Gliwa of analytics solution-provider Verint recommended that firms undertake a VOC program “maturity assessment” to evaluate how well the organization’s structure and business processes enable its customer engagement goals.
Building a 360-degree view of the customer better positions FSI firms to create a consistent experience across channels. Natalie Higgins of Citizens Bank described her company’s vision for breaking the often siloed experiences of the respective banking channels to arrive at an “integrated omnichannel” experience characterized by “high tech and high touch.” Her team has made progress toward this goal by identifying specific action steps for closing service gaps across various channels. Deb Cornwell of USAA highlighted animportant reality that continually sets the bar higher for FSI firms: With service providers across all sectors delivering increasingly integrated omnichannel experiences and data-driven customization, “We’re now compared to the last best experience our customers have had.
Design thinking and customer journey mapping remain mainstays in aligning product design and service delivery with customer needs. Richard Charette of Wells Fargo described a team within the bank that is tasked with documenting and socializing customer journeys with product and process teams. For digital initiatives, these journeys are used as the basis for pressure-testing designs for how a transaction should unfold. Jason Goupil of Nationwide applied journey mapping with advisors to better understand the current experience and how it compared to their view of the ideal financial product provider relationship. His team supplemented traditional journey mapping exercises with projective qualitative techniques to more fully flesh out advisors’ view of the ideal state.
As focused as banks and other financial services providers must be on optimizing the digital experience and leveraging the capabilities of AI, numerous speakers emphasized the importance of striking the right balance between technological efficiency and the human touch. Michael Kirkpatrick of strategic design consultancy MAD*POW urged CX design teams to maintain a role for human intervention at “interactions of high emotion, complexity, and/or brand moments of truth” where “empathy, sympathy, and relatedness” are critical to success. Technology, meanwhile, should be applied toward improving efficiency and anticipating customer needs through automation, pattern recognition, and predictive modeling.
As financial services firms strive to better meet the needs of today’s customers, numerous speakers emphasized the need to begin anticipating the needs of the next generation. Consumers generally choose certain financial services providers (such as banks and credit cards) as young adults, and often settle in with those providers for many years; and the oldest members of Generation Z are now entering young adulthood. Michael Marx of Visa described how Gen Z’s unique financial frame of reference, as well as their innate relationship with technology, may shape their needs and expectations as consumers of financial services.
- Gen Z’s perspectives on finances have been shaped by the financial crisis that occurred during their formative years. They are conservative in their financial outlook, with less focus on material possessions, and greater concern for being prepared for the future. For Gen Z, according to Marx, status stems from “knowing things rather than buying things.”
- Of course, Gen Z has grown up steeped in mobile technology and text messaging, characterized by greater immediacy and short communications cycles. This, according to Marx, will drive a preference for text-based communications with service providers, and will shape their expectations on response times: “They don’t necessarily need you to answer their question or solve their problem immediately, but they do expect an immediate response. You need to start that dialog quickly.”
Traditionally, traits like agility and adaptability haven’t often been associated with companies in the financial sector. But FSI companies like those highlighted at CXFS are demonstrating that agility and continuous innovation – achieved through the right mix of people, processes, technology, and insights – can drive the customer experience to new heights.
A Burke client services VP, Jim Kershaw helps clients arrive at insights that drive transformation and innovation in products, services, branding, and the customer experience. Over his 20-plus years at Burke, he has led the design, implementation, analysis, and action planning components of scores of client CX programs.