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February 16th, 2017

Are more choices eroding the customer journey?

The banking journey used to be a simple thing. One where consumers had just a couple of ways to interact with their bank. They could swing by their local brick-and-mortar branch and request a financial transaction with a bank representative in-person. They could do the same thing by picking up the phone and calling the contact center to speak to a live agent. The ease and simplicity of conducting a transaction gave customers an assurance that resulted in a positive and satisfying banking experience.

It's safe to say that that level of simplicity is gone. Today, financial institutions offer many different ways to bank. While this gives customers more choice on how they can interact with their bank, it has also introduced more complexity that has made it more difficult for banks to meet the growing needs of their customers across a variety of channels. As a result, banks have struggled to provide a consistent satisfying customer experience across their enterprise.

In the article, “Banking Needs a Customer Experience Wake-Up Call,” the 2017 Retail Banking Trends and Predictions report found that improving the customer journey and providing a positive customer experience was the top strategic priority for global banking leaders. However, when it comes to the industry’s customer experience maturity, the study found that these initiatives are unsupported, misdirected, underfunded and poorly measured. 

Of the survey’s findings, the points I found most interesting were:

  • Only 37% of organizations have a formal customer experience plan.
  • Customer experience at most companies focus on internal benefits (selling and cost-cutting), not customer benefits (simplicity, ease, responsiveness).
  • Measurement of customer experience efforts varies widely, with revenue measures mostly missing from the mix.   

Moving forward, if banks want to meet increasing customer demands and improve their customer satisfaction rates, they need to commit to areas of their service that bring real value to their customers. That starts with creating a customer experience plan that understands the customer’s step-by-step journey across all channels.

The focus of the plan needs to be on your customers, not your bottom line. Making the journey easy to follow will save your customers valuable time, build their confidence with your brand, and reduce frustration or dissatisfaction with your service.

Finally, measuring parts of your plan that are working well and understanding what parts need adjustments is an ongoing process that will change over time, much like your customers’ needs.

Committing budget and resources to the implementation and the ongoing management of a customer experience plan doesn’t mean ignoring your business focus of selling more and reducing expenses. Once you’ve improved your operational efficiencies and have a more secure and predictable banking environment, the returns will come in the form of lower operating costs and higher revenues due to increased customer satisfaction and retention.

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