An increasing number of financial services companies are discovering that customers actually take identifiable, predictable paths that can be uncovered with a comprehensive, top-down view of every customer interaction on every channel.

Optimizing Customer Experience for Financial Services

Financial services customers have more choices than ever before, with both traditional institutions and fintech newcomers vying for the consideration of an increasingly discriminating consumer base. Customers now have the ability to engage with a variety of financial service companies on an array of channels, mobile and other digital options chief among them.

This open marketplace makes customer experience a concern, and many financial services organizations are finding themselves losing revenue and clientele to competitors that perform better on digital initiatives. And even if they stay, many consumers maintain accounts with more than one service provider in an attempt to create comprehensive solutions to their financial needs.

A large part of the growing shift from a monogamous relationship between financial firms and their customers is a lack of confidence in their bank’s ability to provide personalized experiences and services. Financial services companies must transform both their organizational functions and strategic vision to properly optimize the customer experience.

Track Customer Journeys

Since customer journeys through an organization’s various channels can occur over days or weeks and across a multitude of devices and channels, organizations often assume that there is no real rhyme or reason to the path each one takes.

On the surface, it does seem that interactions on the company’s website, through social media, on mobile devices, via email, over the phone and during in-person visits are relatively disconnected touch points. However, an increasing number of financial services companies are discovering that customers actually take identifiable, predictable paths that can be uncovered with a comprehensive, top-down view of every customer interaction on every channel.

The good news is that many financial services organizations are already collecting the data necessary to make this ideal a reality. The bad news: the data is usually not well-analyzed or integrated into strategy and operations, diluting a great deal of its value. This information is often “owned” by various departments, including marketing, sales, customer service, IT and the C-suite. These organizational barriers create data silos that hinder the sharing of important information regarding customer journeys and experiences.

For most financial service firms, the only answer is to clear out legacy systems and opt for solutions that connect and centralize collections of data. Once the framework is in place, it becomes much easier to see how customers are using each channel and how one flows into the other. Institutions can then optimize the customer experience for each channel and then delve down into personalizations for each customer. Mapping out the path customers take through each touch point can help financial service firms provide customers with tailored, consistent interactions.

Connect All Channels

Online, mobile and ATM capabilities are giving customers fewer reasons to visit brick-and-mortar branches, and most of them would like to see that trend continue. Despite what this would seem to indicate for the demise of bank branches, many financial service customers still prefer face-to-face interaction in branches when opening a new account, adding services such as investments, and when seeking advice. In this way, branches are still an important part of the relationship-building process, as well as a valuable source of customer journey data.

However, customers do expect a consistent, customized experience no matter how they’re interacting with a brand. They don’t want to have their journey interrupted because they cannot complete tasks via a certain channel, and they certainly don’t want to start the task over or keep providing the same information if they do switch channels. The focus should be on connecting branch tasks with digital interactions for a seamless customer experience.

Segment the Approach

Financial transactions are rarely taken lightly by consumers, so it’s critical for businesses in the financial services industry to present personalized offers at the right time. Providing segment-specific customer experiences promotes an environment where customers feel understood and catered to. This approach builds customer satisfaction which, in turn, drives brand loyalty and decreased customer churn.

But what’s the best way to segment a customer base? The broadest customer segments are created around which products they use, from financial advice to mortgages. Customers can be divided further by more fine-grained factors like age, occupation and location, as well as organization-side data, such as purchase and transaction history, recent searches or information inquiries, and behaviors during interactions.

Taking advantage of this data also enables the creation of valuable cross- and up-selling opportunities. For example, a 30-something professional with young children will likely appreciate offers for mortgages, insurance products and more aggressive investments. A 50-something, on the other hand, may also benefit from insurance offers, in addition to retirement planning and less risky investment strategies.

Stay Connected

As customers become ever more reliant on their digital devices, so must financial services. The key here will be moving away from performing only the most basic of tasks, such as checking balances and making deposits, via mobile. Organizations will have start giving customers the same functionalities across all channels, including mobile apps.

Digital devices can also serve as a fixed touch point that continuously drives the customer journey via mobile communications. Beyond basics like account statues and reminders, these messages can consist of personalized, location-based advertisements. Financial services organizations can then leverage their data on where and when a customer spends their money in order to provide relevant discounts or point them in the direction of partner companies.