Banks are struggling to maintain respect with customers. With many transactional services now easily accessible online and via apps, customers are rarely stepping foot in branch.
When they do they are met with walls lined with self-service machines, or a long queue which concludes in a meeting shrouded with bureaucracy, and so many identification checks they won’t fit into your lunch hour, which coincidently is the only convenient time the banks are open. The bank is in danger of being considered as a utility rather than a trusted and valued part of people’s life.
Accenture’s 2016 North American Banking Survey reported that while many customers are using online banking more often, 87% of consumers will still use their branches in the future – and want human interaction when they go there. Consumer interest in branch investment grew more than any other channel, up four percent since 2015”. So all is not lost for the retail banks. Innovative omnichannel experiences can be implemented in traditional style branches to improve customer experience, which consultancy firm McKinsey found could increase customers likelihood to renew or buy new products by between 30-50%.
So with that in mind, here are seven key areas in which banks can improve the customer experience:
1. In-branch experience
An example of this is Capital One's latest venture, the Capital One Café, which aims to market to millennials and bridge the gap between the customer and the branch in order to improve the in-branch experience. At the cafés, customers can get answers to questions and manage their finances in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. The expansive open layout is “designed to facilitate discovery, conversations, hospitality, education, and community events,” says Ryan Laudenbach, Seattle Market Lead for Capital One Cafés.
2. Cut the red tape
Another new bank disrupting the industry is Danish brand Knab who are cutting the red tape that surrounds the banking sector, making the experience for customers slow and laboured. Knab can open a current account for customers online in just five minutes, lending itself to the modern consumer’s desire for instant gratification that they receive in other industries including online shopping and takeaway apps.
Recent years have seen many banks closing branches in a push to move services online in a bid to save money, and also modernize the customer experience. Although this has proven convenient for many transactions including money transfers and checking a balance, many services offered by the banks still require customers to go in-branch, which due to restricted opening hours often means large queues and a customer experience that’s lacking.
New kid on the block, Metro Bank, has bucked this trend by taking banking to a new level of customer convenience, with branches open seven days a week and speedy service to suit their customers busy lifestyles. Paul Riseborough, Metro's chief commercial officer explains “service is at the core of our model and at the heart of the banking experience we provide. It's about being convenient in our customers' busy lives and our bank manager's role is to be embedded in the local community."
4. Customer journey
The end-to-end customer journey often involves multiple departments throughout the organization. Many banks operate in silos, through which customers will receive a broken and potentially contradictory experience. By ensuring information can be shared between departments, and providing consistent brand values, a seamless end-to-end customer journey can be created, improving the overall customer experience. The Financial Brand describes how, for example, the process of acquiring a mortgage is viewed differently by the bank and the customer; “Although the mortgage process has numerous touch points and can transpire across multiple channels—call center chats, branch discussions, mobile apps, web interfaces—the customer views it as a single large transaction, and the user experience should be optimized at each step and ultimately feel unified to the customer.”
5. Take inspiration from other industries
In the last few years banks have fallen behind the curve as other industries strive to create an exceptional customer experience. Retail is a great example of how improving the journey of the customer can increase revenue and customer loyalty. In our latest retail consumer study it has been shown that 94% of consumers are now buying from retailers across multiple channels. This is something that the banking industry can replicate and implement in order to appease the consumer appetite for tailored customer experiences.
6. Be reactive to social and online conversations
It’s no secret that consumers use their social platforms to vent their complaints. It’s important to utilize social platforms as a customer service tool.
In 2014, Econsultancy compared the response rates of 16 retail banks on social media, with the quickest response coming in at 3 minutes and the longest an hour and 24 minutes. Social media has transformed the way in which banks communicate with their customers. Prior to the public sphere of social, customers would be expected to pick up the phone and wait in a queue and then have to give all of their personal information before being able to speak to an advisor about their problem.
Social media has allowed the bureaucracy within banking to be broken down, and make customers feel that they have more control. It's the instantaneous customer experience that has become the Holy Grail for many modern customers and social media is the tool to fill that need.
7. Leveraging Data
Research by Capgemini indicates that only 37% of customers believe that banks understand their needs and preferences adequately. But the immense amount of data that is collected can give banks the edge when creating a personalized customer experience. A great example of how a bank has successfully leveraged data to build a better customer relationship is Zions Bank, based in the US, which employs Big Data to derive insights about the growing Hispanic community. In an interview with American Banker, Senior Vice President, Juancarlos Judd, explains how data analytics helps “the bank identify Hispanic consumers within its geographic footprint and see their education levels, home ownership, affluence and other factors. The bank then breaks the segment down into groups and identifies financial needs for each.” Based on these segmentation insights, Zions Bank has strengthened their customer relationships and have grown its Hispanic customer base 10-15% in the past few years.
Learn about how customer experience plays a role in establishing loyalty by downloading our free eBook, UX Marks the Spot.