Raising the Bar: The Financial Services Client Experience

In the financial services industry, client relationships hinge on more than just customer service.

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In the financial services industry, client relationships hinge on more than just customer service. Each interaction and touchpoint impacts client satisfaction and loyalty.

The State of CX in Financial Services

Each time a client interacts with a company, their experience affects the outcome of that relationship. Whether they meet with an advisor, attend an event, or visit a location, they leave with a new perception that guides their future decisions. These collective moments make up the overall client experience (CX)—a major predictor of business growth. In the financial services industry, healthy client relationships give businesses staying power and renewed marketability. Happy (and unhappy) clients directly impact the bottom line.

Today, new technology offers a unique opportunity for companies to measure and improve their client experiences. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools like Salesforce allow banking, insurance, and wealth management firms to store richer client data and leverage it to build stronger client relationships. Customer feedback solutions help financial institutions measure client experiences and report on client health in real time. And mobile technology’s ubiquity has given businesses the power to connect with clients wherever they may be.

CX Financial Services - stat

 Source: Accenture

Consumers Want Personalized Experiences

Research indicates that 79% of North American consumers feel their relationship with their financial services provider is largely transactional, not advice-based. That fact may seem normal, since banking clients largely rely on their providers for regular, day-to-day services. But modern consumers expect more personalized experiences from all of their providers, financial institutions included.

The same survey revealed that 40% of banking clients would be more inclined to stay with their bank if it offered more personalized service. In essence, increased personalization is directly correlated with increased client loyalty.

CX Financial Services - customer loyalty

 Source: Accenture

A seamless, personalized client experience shows a direct return on investment too. According to research from PwC, knowing what your clients value will soon be the most important predictor of revenue growth and profitability in financial services.

Technology advances have given businesses access to exponentially more data about what users do and want. It is an amazing opportunity for whomever can use analytics to unlock the information inside, to give clients what they really want.

― PwC

Why the shift in client expectations?

Technological advances continue to play a big role in client expectations. In a world where information is just a few clicks away and on-demand services reign, every industry is at risk of being turned upside down by a newcomer. The financial services industry is no exception—FinTech companies are coming out of the woodwork, offering experiences that cater to the modern, tech-savvy client, and they’ll undoubtedly leave their mark on the entire industry.

But even these tech-focused companies would be naïve to discount the gravity of human interaction. Sure, technology has elevated consumer expectations for convenient, on-the-go experiences, but it has also reaffirmed the importance of human-to-human contact. While clients may at times crave the branchless banking experience, they ultimately want an experience that caters to their offline moments too.

Why Financial Institutions Need to Focus on CX

Bad client experiences can have major ramifications. With the abundance of providers out there today, your clients can window-shop with ease—evaluating competitors is as simple as running a Google search. But nowadays, consumers aren’t necessarily looking for a better price point. They’re focused more on the overall experience they have with a brand.

Customer service tends to impact overall brand perception more than most branches of business. If a client interacts with a service team often, those employees become the face of the business. As you might expect, a bad customer service interaction is one of the top reasons clients cut ties. According to Accenture, over half of all U.S. clients have switched providers because of a negative customer service experience in the last year alone.

CX in Financial Services - switching economy

Source: Accenture 

How the Switching Economy Impacts CX

Consumers are so accustomed to swapping providers that experts have dubbed it the “switching economy,” and Accenture estimates that it costs around $1.6 trillion yearly in the U.S. This seeming lack of brand loyalty has alarmed many industries. Some experts have even questioned if client loyalty is a relevant concept now that canceling services can be as simple as pressing a button and moving on.

While it’s easy to pin this trend on a “new breed” of clients with access to ample technology, data suggests that providers’ lack of cross-channel proficiency is a big culprit as well. Companies simply can’t keep up with the many avenues their clients use to contact them. As a result, they’re offering poor, inconsistent service that leaves their clients frustrated—and on the lookout for a better option.

The financial services industry is not exempt from this modern shift. Findings from the J.D. Power 2015 US Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study show that financial services providers that focus on delivering better service across channels are achieving higher customer satisfaction rates. Happier clients mean more referrals, greater loyalty, and ultimately increased revenue.

Overcoming Old-School Challenges

So what’s the first step toward CX improvements? Collecting the right data. While information-sharing is a point of contention in many markets, the financial services industry has a unique opportunity. Research shows that clients are willing to share their personal data with financial institutions, so long at that info is put toward experience improvements.

CX Financial Services - share personal data

Source: Accenture 

The real hurdle is overcoming old-school attitudes within the industry. You can collect all the client data in the world, but if it’s never put to good use, it’s all for nothing. Being more insular and traditional than most, the financial services industry has grown comfortable with a somewhat outdated approach to client relationship management.

The traditional approach in the FinServ industry is one of non-engagement with their client base. But the next generation of clients have different wants and needs. They research and explore options online, look for recommendations from friends and family over social media, and are far less loyal to companies.

― Patrick Hyland, Softek

Hyland is correct. The modern consumer demands modern experiences, even when it comes to their money. Financial institutions need to rise to the occasion in order to appeal to this audience. Aside from ditching old-school attitudes, providers should be consider other common client experience blockers when developing a strategy.

Common Challenges in Financial Services

  • Outdated technology: When systems, tools, and client-facing tech lag behind the curve, it can complicate the client experience. Keep up with the newest trends in FinTech and see which options could directly impact and improve your client experience.

  • Limited training: Team members (particularly those who are client-facing) must be properly trained on handling client interactions smoothly and efficiently. That means they’re able to bounce between channels with ease.

  • Lack of visibility: Client experience initiatives need to be prioritized and vocalized. If all departments aren’t aligned on the same objectives, the client experience will suffer. Be sure to surface plans with department heads and client-facing teams. That includes sharing client feedback widely, whether it’s through shared tools—like your CRM—or in all-hands meetings.

  • Slow pace of innovation: Again, a successful CX transformation requires buy-in across an organization. If some branches of business aren’t open to improving, they’ll slow the overall movement of the organization.

Once you know what needs to change as well as the obstacles that can get in the way of your CX improvements, the next step is to create a finite strategy.

How You Can Get Started

One of the simplest ways to start improving your client experience is my measuring it. GetFeedback helps Financial Servivce companies connect with their clients through rich, timely feedback that can be mapped directly to Salesforce. In a matter of minutes, you can build on-brand client surveys with drag-and-drop ease.

If you’re just launching a client experience program, it’s a good idea to start small. Begin with your client-facing departments and then expand the program over time. There are a variety of survey types you can use to track client sentiment across all departments, from the classic customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey to branding and product surveys.

PG Bank increased its Net Promoter Score by 10%

Financial Services - PG Bank NPS

GetFeedback for Salesforce allows you to automate survey distribution based on client activity, then create workflows to help your team close the feedback loop faster. This strategy has been proven to work too. Peapack-Gladstone Bank beat the industry average Net Promoter Score by 62% with GetFeedback for Salesforce.

How’d they do it? By developing a client experience program in which every banker gets a pulse on client satisfaction. If a client voices concerns, team members are alerted immediately so they can reach out and repair the relationship. Aside from beating the industry average, they’ve already boosted their Net Promoter Score by 10% as a direct result of increased visibility into client experience.

You can improve your client experience too. It just starts by asking the right question. Give your clients a voice with a customer feedback program that works for you. Contact GetFeedback today.

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