Tom Needs: My experience of the UK Financial Services Experience Awards

I recently had the honour of being a judge at the UK Financial Services Experience Awards (UK FXA Awards) 2015 and as with all awards events, it was a great opportunity to network with like-minded people and make new connections. It’s always a pleasure spending time with people who are as obsessive about customer experience as I – and this was definitely the place to do that… Some key takeaways from this year’s event follow:

Old-school FS?
Governed by compliance and legislation, the Financial Services sector is perceived as old school when it comes to customer experience. It’s true that financial services must be permanently mindful and wary of security and data protection issues concerning their customer information, but this needn’t be at the cost of progressive customer service provision.

Technology as enabler
A number of broad trends were apparent. There is an obvious desire to shift away from an approach based on monolithic call centres towards customer self-service and more online dynamic help. As with so many other industries, cost and efficiency are key to success. Making more effective use of technology is the quickest way to achieve this.

For instance, one insurance firm encourages customers to take photographs to assess damages for claims. This results in much faster payouts as the image files contain embedded information, such as time and location, which helps insurance firms beat fraud.

Articulating the value
One of other interesting aspects of the day was that the judging was not based solely on written entries. Entrants also had to present to the judging panel, explaining why their project or service should win a particular award. It quickly became clear that while entrants were comfortable putting together written submissions for the awards, many of them found it much harder to articulate how they were going to get value from their programmes in person.

Feeling the tension!
As to the identity of the eventual winners, I was as much in the dark as the other judges until they were announced at the awards ceremony in the afternoon. The judges were not permitted to discuss or share their scores with each other and our votes were counted independently. I must say that I enjoyed being able to share the tension and anticipation of the nominees as I sat waiting to hear whether the entrants I had chosen had won in their respective categories. And I chose the right candidate every time!
Looking forward to next year already…

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