Engaging customers – not just the tech, it’s about the right mix

In recent years, banks have been working to go digital, investing in new technologies and learning as quickly as they can. As they await a stream of impressive results from their efforts, they have come to realise that all the work is not done. Far from being at the end of the road, banks have actually reached a transition phase. Despite all the efforts to digitally transform, customer churn remains an issue that just won’t go away.

Customers are still leaving

Banks are still losing customers at a much faster rate than they would like to, at the same time as they have introduced a host of new digital capabilities. Mobile banking apps, chatbots and real-time recommendations are great, but something is still not working properly. Inefficiency and inconvenience remain bugbears for banking customers, even though so many new offerings have been put in place for them. There is an urgent need to tap into the reasons behind these stubborn churn rates. All of the digital promises in the world mean nothing if these two keystones of service are not delivered.

“The percentage of consumers saying their biggest frustrations with providers failure to deliver on their promises, inefficient and slow customer service, and lack of interaction convenience have remained consistent in the past few years.”

Accenture – Banking Customer Pulse

Back to basics

Digital is a powerful element of the customer experience, but so are the other elements, including the human ones. Cutting-edge is impressive and is vital in an increasingly digital banking industry, yet any digital endeavours should not ignore the basic requirement each customer has – they want to be satisfied with every contact point. Whether it be a smart onboarding form or the person they talk to in the call centre, the experience has to deliver. The customer just wants things to work right.

Handling the new tools

In recent years, banks have had to redouble their efforts to incorporate new technologies into their offering. Now they have all these tools on board, they need to learn how to handle them, and this is where things seems to be falling down. Banks still have to figure out how to dovetail digital with the other methods of interaction to deliver quality across the board. The starting point for this exercise is to focus on what customers want to achieve with each contact – a fast, easy resolution to their needs, any time, over any channel.

Engage don’t impress

Key to engaging is understanding and the acknowledgement that all customers are not made the same. Some like to download the latest digital apps, others like to pick up the phone and speak to someone. Everyone is different, and to cater for this, banks must provide a suite of optimized contact points. Optimization is the winning theme here, each channel must offer the best experience possible. It’s important to get each interaction right so customers do not come up against hurdles as they try to consume products and services. In this way, banks can engage people in a way that works for them. It’s not about looking good, it’s about being relevant and truly helpful.

Combining everything for maximum impact

The apparent breakdown in communication with customers is predominantly due to the phase banks are at in their digital evolution – having gotten on board with digital, they now need to learn how to handle it. This is especially so when it comes to combining the digital and non-digital aspects of customer engagement. Banks must go beyond digitizing current processes, they need to blend the technical and human aspects to make customer engagement the best it can be.

The ingredients for creating smart, relevant touchpoints are design, consolidation and data.
1. Design – take a walk through each channel and touch point. Experience what the customer does and find out where the breakdowns occur.
2. Consolidate – look at each element of the journey and figure out how to make it excel. In particular, mobile needs a specific focus.
3. Use data – new digital technologies bring opportunities to mine data and use it effectively in efforts to cross-sell, up-sell and most importantly, keep customers happy.

Creating an engagement engine

The root of the problem seems to lie in a lack of customer focus, so banks need to work from an outside-in perspective. Banks need to view the experience from the customer’s point of view, find out what the issues are and put the wheels in motion to make all the parts work in harmony. Rather than taking a sequential approach to customer satisfaction, banks need to have an engine running to drive customer engagement.

Engine Combo Graphic 2 - Engaging customers - not just the tech, it’s about the right mix

Spiegel Research Centre http://spiegel.medill.northwestern.edu/consumer-engagement-engine/

The ideal scenario

In truth, the work on customer engagement will never be done, it’s an ongoing endeavour. As customer’s needs change throughout their lifecycle, they will come to expect different things from their bank. Industry change will also bring about new requirements as time goes on. Banks that have taken the time to optimize every contact point won’t have issues with any of this however. When all the touch points work well, it doesn’t matter, as customers get the same high quality experience no matter how they connect.

This is the ideal scenario and as banks digitally transform, they will need to take the time to perfect the customer-facing piece. It’s not easy, the back-end must be tailored to changes in the front-end so a small change on the customer side will have ramifications for various teams. If they can get this right however, banks can ensure the communication channels with customers remain open. In this way, the most important voices will continue to filter into the organization, no matter how busy their digital transformation keeps them.