How Technology Is Enhancing Customer Experience Within the Financial Industry

  • Daniel Heck, Senior Director of Marketing EMEA, SugarCRM

  • 04.11.2016 10:29 am

Ahead of the upcoming Forrester CX Europe event taking place (15th & 16th Nov), Financial IT caught up with Mr Daniel Heck, Senior Director of Marketing EMEA to understand how technology is enhancing customer experience within the financial industry.

How has the digital revolution impacted on the finance industry and what’s that meant for customer experience?

“Today, digital technology has made life increasingly complex for banks, credit unions and other financial service businesses. A report by Frost & Sullivan found that almost half of financial services customers use three or more channels in a year. Whether it’s websites, mobile apps, email, social media or in-person encounters, customers now have multiple channels available to them. Each one brings a further expectation from the customer to assume that the same level of service and experience will be provided through each.”

What does this mean for financial businesses?

“Well, simply, the days of a one dimensional customer approach are gone. Financial businesses now need to be able to deliver experiences that feel personal, unified and memorable if they are to stand out from the crowd. This way a point reinforced by Gartner research, which found 89% of companies think they now compete solely on customer experience. It meant that financial companies now have a double challenge: growing their customer base in the first place, and then finding the correct solutions to meet the needs of their current customers who are more empowered, educated and connected than ever before.”

How important is it then that companies within the industry meet customer expectations?

“Meeting customer expectations in any industry is a key business principal but in the finance sector, an industry notorious for low levels of loyalty - it carries even more importance. In the new digital world infidelity is rife, digital capabilities have reduced the amount of barriers and required effort for customers to switch, so they switch. This has readdressed the balance of power in favour of the customer, they are now empowered to demand the highest quality of service, irrespective of the time or place.”

What does today’s empowered customer look like?

“Customers today are now more knowledgeable than ever before, they use an array of different digital channels to contact companies with questions and complaints. They expect the same level of service from their banks as they do their shops, restaurants and couriers. No longer do customers discriminate, they form their expectations through comparing and contrasting brands – irrespective of the industry. This means the banking customer experience is pitched against the greats of services from the likes of Amazon, Waitrose and John Lewis.”

How can technology help businesses meet the needs of the empowered customer and enhance the customer experience?

“If the industry is to optimise customer relationships and loyalty in this new environment, they need to integrate processes and technologies that enable them to build − and then act upon − a detailed view of what each customer wants. This all starts with achieving a single view of the customer. Doing this is integral to improved customer insight, better targeting, increased customer satisfaction, and improved customer service. The right customer relationship management (CRM) technology can provide just that, offering an individualised service based on a 360-degree view of the customer.

“These systems are of course nothing new but they’ve evolved rapidly in recent years. Once little more than a glorified database of customer information, the most successful modern incarnations feature a level of sophistication that can revolutionise the way a company does its business. For example, user-focused tools and contextual intelligence help to discover new customer insights; marketing campaigns can be driven more effectively and a consistent service can be provided across all customer touchpoints.”

With digital innovations now rife is there the risk that the human touch will be lost?

“Ultimately, people still want to talk to people. We just need human interaction that’s relevant. Connecting the digital and human touchpoints is what’s important, as well as giving employees the context on what digital interaction customers have already had with your brand.”

What else needs to be considered on top of digital capability?

“To maximise the potential of digital technology you need quality staff with the right tools at their disposal. With customers engaging with businesses across multiple channels, each provides a different kind of interaction and a piece of a customer’s history. Businesses must make sure they’re capturing all the relevant information that is available across these platforms. By doing so, customer-service teams can have all the information they need at their fingertips to build a complete picture of the situation and the customer they are dealing with.”

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