5 Ways to Improve Your Bank’s Customer Experience (CX)

Jim Dellavilla  |  Chief Client Officer

August 30, 2016

Seems like everyone is talking about customer experience (CX), and they should be. Although touch points are still critical opportunities to influence customers, these are only part of the picture when you talk about improving a consumer’s full experience. That full experience is what will ultimately decide overall level of satisfaction. But where should you start? Which CX initiatives are going to have the biggest impact on revenue?

One of the best ways to find out is to undergo the CX mapping process: a qualitative research process during which you explore what each customer is thinking, feeling and doing at each stage of the relationship. Done right, the CX mapping process results in an insightful customer journey map that will cover every stage of the customer’s relationship with you, from account opening, through onboarding, through relationship expansion, through account close. The outputs will provide actionable insight into what’s working and what’s not, from the customer standpoint.

There is a prerequisite, however, that banks too often fail to meet. That is, you must be willing to make the changes your customers request in order to continue to meet their needs. The map will tell you exactly what your customers want you to do differently. But if you aren’t willing to do things differently, then mapping is not the best use of your marketing resources.

What insight is your map likely to yield? Here are some substantive changes that we’ve found to be almost universal in the banking world.

  • Your online account opening experience – It almost always needs improvement. The barrier to entry can be difficult for new customers, who may or may not be all that motivated anyway. The key is to focus on reducing friction throughout the journey. Multiple steps and too many actions required on the part of the customers can ruin this initial experience, thus, risking the all-too-frequent reality of abandonment.
  • Your switching experience – This is a major fail on the part of most banks. The ease of their switching experience is barely mentioned, if at all … most likely because it’s an oxymoron. Banks make you jump through major hoops to switch your debit card, auto payments and auto deposits. Is it any wonder that customer inertia is such an issue? Why not make your switching experience easier and address the very real concerns customers have in your online text and your outreach communications? You might be surprised to see what this does to improve your customer experience, lift your acquisition rates and give you a distinct competitive advantage.
  • Your digital experience – Many banks don’t have a website or mobile app that puts the customer first. Allow for simple, easier changes, like switching between accounts, transferring money and locating customer support, because a better experience will result in more actions and more engagement time from your prospects. Your bank may be organized by banking products, but your customers’ lives aren’t.
  • Using data for personalization – You already have a ton of data about your customers. You know where they live, how old they are, what banking products they have, and more. So why aren’t you using that data to personalize your customer communications? A 60-year-old may be less interested in an offer for a HELOC than an offer for an annuity. A millennial might be more interested in a college loan than a CD. And so forth. And if you’re making me a particular offer by mail – such as a rate special – why the heck aren’t I seeing this on my portal page when I log in to my account? Your data should guide all of your communications in all of your channels.
  • Your customer education is woefully lacking – Ever thought about educating millennials on how much they should put away for retirement now, instead of just pushing out products? How about teaching Gen X which investment products they should be considering, and why? Investment firms are running circles around banks in this regard. And we stand to lose significant business to them because of it.

Not only are consumers in all age groups clamoring for education, using educational content to drive engagement establishes a relationship with future customers before they make their purchase decision. If you have already become the trusted expert, what do you think the odds are that they’ll call you first? Providing knowledgeable, trusted customer education is a big part of improving your bank’s CX. It’s also a huge product differentiator.

What’s your biggest CX challenge? Do you have one that didn’t make my list? Drop me a line at jdellavilla@catalystinc.com.

Jim Dellavilla |  Chief Client Officer
As CCO, Jim directs strategy for all of Catalyst’s accounts. This Siena College grad has spent time on both sides of the fence – on the client side at Chase Manhattan Bank and on the agency side as a manager/director of all client relationship teams at Sigma Marketing.

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