Banks are springing into action as the battle for the customer intensifies; according to the recent UK Customer Satisfaction Index, financial services firms have made significant improvements, in comparison to previous years.
Banks and non-traditional financial institutions are shifting their focus away from product offerings toward creating interconnected, simple, and personalised customer service.
However, financial institutions still lag behind retailers and travel providers when it comes to customer service. So, what exactly can they learn in order to bag themselves a top spot when it comes to enhancing the customer journey?
The customer service delivery model is changing – branch closures and digital trends are changing the way customers bank and engage with their financial service providers. With new regulation and mounting competition from agile digital disrupters, banks are having to rethink how they interact with their customers at every step of the banking journey.
Boosting customer satisfaction is high on the agenda for traditional banks, which are under pressure to reinvent how they deliver to customers in the digital age. Cost pressures on profit margins are driving banks to shut down branches. Closing bank branches is an attractive option to manage cost pressures – the traditional branch can easily account for 40 to 60 percent of a bank’s total operating cost.
Despite the growing trend to shut down branches to manage cost pressures, recent studies find that most customers – including millennials – still prefer having a physical branch nearby. Agile banks are revamping the banking model for the digital banking era to grow and maintain their market share without traditional branch expansion. So, how can banks balance operational costs with innovation?
Traditional institutions are now in an optimal position to direct their attention towards long-term growth transformation strategies enabled by new innovations. These will be directed towards creating a technology-enabled, data-empowered system, which puts the customer at the heart of every business decision.
Banks are directing investment to their back-office to boost operational efficiency, reduce customer churn, and resolve customer enquires faster. Waiting in lengthy queues and being passed from one department to another is a key factor fuelling customer dissatisfaction when searching for the right customer service agent.
In regards to telephone banking, technology is now being used to recognise customers’ voices and predict the purpose of their call based on the status of their account. This enables individuals to be automatically forwarded to the correct department, streamlining the Customer Experience to avoid being passed from pillar to post.
The need for in-person service is very much alive, and in an increasingly digital business landscape, the branch network is central to fostering trust and providing financial advice to compliment other digital channels.
Banks are grappling with the future of physical branch locations, but to bridge the gap between in-person and digital, they are beginning to make moves towards utilising a mobile advisor workforce, which can be managed through a mobile app. Connecting roaming advisers to nearby customers, when and where they are needed, eliminates the costly outlay of a bank branch and gives customers the level of service they desire.
With the support of automation, staff are becoming more empowered to resolve complex issues, which in turn means that branches will not just sustain the banking experience for customers but will manage to revive it. One national UK bank used technology to reduce complaints by 25 percent and customer churn by 12 percent, by using data analytics to recognise customer needs in advance and resolve issues faster.
We are in a time of significant change, with challenger banks and specialist lenders increasing their gross lending and market share, and traditional providers seeing their share stagnate. However, it is not game over for banks – they have an established customer base to leverage and can use the opportunity to create a harmonious balance between the different channels available, to accommodate all customers to strive for success in the new banking landscape.