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How The Financial Industry Should Use Digital Feedback to Boost Customer Loyalty

This guide covers how financial institutions can collect feedback to improve the digital experience and build long-lasting relationships with customers.

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Somewhere between one-third to one-half of consumers believe that “all banks are basically the same.” The fact that so few consumers feel like their bank offers unique, differentiated services that fit their needs should be a wake-up call to the financial industry.   

Consider the large number of up-and-coming fintech companies that are looking to differentiate themselves as a new generation of banking options. In 2019 alone, global investment in fintech companies hit $135.7B across 2,693 deals.

Silicon Valley is good at getting rid of pain points. Banks are good at creating them.  — Jamie Dimon, CEO JPMorgan Chase

Many of these companies offer digital-first experiences that make financial management easier for customers. So, how can traditional financial institutions compete in this saturated and highly competitive market? 

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Banking Industry Outlook, “long-term sustainable growth in the finance sector requires a shift in mindset to one of genuine customer-centricity.” The problem is that while 91% of CEOs believe that customer-centricity is important to business growth, only 38% of customers believe their bank actually is customer-centric.

The key is in listening closely to your customers’ needs, wants, and desires. Only by collecting and acting on customers’ digital feedback can banks deliver a differentiated experience that keeps customers enthusiastically satisfied and loyal.

In this guide, we’ll examine why the financial industry benefits from building customer relationships with digital feedback, including proactive strategies for collecting actionable insight.

Let’s start with the benefits of building an emotional connection with customers.

Chapter 1

The value of building an emotional connection with customers

Creating an emotional connection with financial consumers is important because it fosters brand energy. Brand energy is a measure of the power of your company’s brand. It is created by connecting with a customer’s emotions, providing helpful service, and delivering the ideal experience. 

Every time you send the right message, deliver the right information or reward a customer's emotional expectations with the ideal experience, you are generating brand energy. This power translates into customer loyalty by encouraging customers to buy products and services, and become advocates of the brand. It also has a long-lasting impact that keeps brands top of mind, even months after the initial experience.

Emotion is critical to building long-term relationships with customers. This absolutely influences brand equity. Whether B2C or B2B, people ‘feel’ something about the brands in their life. It’s what keeps them coming back and telling others about their experience. -  Forrester’s Dipanjan Chatterjee

Brand energy is even more important in the financial sector because a powerful brand speaks to the trust customers put in their bank. They want to feel that their finances are secure and taken care of. As you deliver more positive experiences, brand energy and consumer confidence grow.

How to develop brand energy 

Customer experience (CX), by definition, is how customers perceive their interactions with a company. It’s the sum of all the interactions—online and offline—that a customer has with an organization over the life of the “relationship” with that company, and more importantly, the feelings, emotions, and perceptions the customer has about those interactions.

Within the customer experience, there is the element of digital experience (DX). By improving your website and app experiences, you not only offer your customers the digital experience they desire but also improve your overall CX. 

So, investing in your brand’s digital experience (DX) cultivates brand energy and allows you to harness its power to grow your business. 

To do so, banks must focus on connecting with customers emotionally. This requires a constant stream of feedback from across the customer’s journey. Why are customers signing up with you? How do they feel as they open new accounts? What causes delight? What causes frustration? 

When most people think about banking, they think of day to day transactions: depositing their paychecks, paying bills online, withdrawing cash from an ATM. But while everyday transactions are utilitarian in nature, banks need to capture the emotion of a positive client relationship to build customer loyalty.

Banks are often involved in the most emotional times of a person’s life. From buying a house to getting married, through to retirement, a financial institution can help their clients meet their goals and plan for the long term. 

As mentioned earlier, customer-centricity is key to differentiation. If you want to stand out, then you need to actively collect feedback and make changes to your digital channels with your customers in mind. Only in doing so, will your bank build customer loyalty. 

Now, let’s dive into the methodology of collecting and acting on customer feedback.

Chapter 2

Collecting customer feedback to increase loyalty

If transforming transactional customer relationships into meaningful relationships is the goal, feedback is the mechanism to get there. It’s impossible to design a useful customer experience without seeking input from the customers themselves. 

Not only does feedback help design teams create an experience that inspires loyalty, but the simple act of soliciting feedback can help your customers feel heard. This action alone can improve customer relationships and build loyalty. 

Why listening to feedback improves customer loyalty

Intuitively, it makes sense that acting on customer feedback improves the customer’s experience and will keep them around for longer. But when you break it down, the impact of using feedback to improve loyalty is actually far more wide-reaching than you might think. Listening to customers is the most important thing you can do in the fight to boost customer advocacy. 

Forrester determined that the top three emotions that will increase loyalty among banking customers are feeling appreciated, respected, and valued. Asking for feedback shows your customers that you respect their opinion. Acting on their feedback makes your customers feel valued, and heard. Finally, thanking customers for sharing their insight and showcasing how it’s impacted your business makes them feel appreciated. 

If you don’t provide customers with the opportunity to voice their concerns, you’ll be showing them that you do not care what they want. This is a terrible customer loyalty strategy. In fact, 68% of customers quit working with a business because they believed the business did not care. 

The second way that feedback impacts loyalty is by building a better understanding of your customers. By collecting insights across multiple touchpoints, you can understand what customers are trying to accomplish, where they are getting stuck, and what they want more of. With this insight, you can move from transactional relationships to trusting partnerships. Incorporate feedback into design processes and strategy sessions to create journeys perfectly suited to your customers’ needs. 

Finally, real-time feedback helps you deal with loyalty emergencies. From customers frustrated with a recent service experience to an urgent bug that needs to be fixed, flagging negative feedback quickly can prevent bank customers from churning. 

Ultimately, listening to your customers, and analyzing, and acting on feedback will give you everything you need to know how to build customer loyalty. 

Collecting feedback across the customer journey

Customers don’t think about their experience as a series of individual touchpoints. Instead, they have an emotional response to the end-to-end journey. The problem is that most companies collect feedback at only one or two points. This makes it hard to understand why each touchpoint provides positive feedback, but the overall customer experience is lacking. 

Differentiating your brand from other banks requires a holistic approach that encompasses the entire customer journey. Instead of focusing on touchpoints, it’s critical to understand the overall goals of your customers and build a journey that will help them accomplish it. 

The first step is to put your most common customer journeys on paper. Pull in stakeholders from design, customer experience, sales, and others to make sure you have a well-rounded perspective of what customers are going through. Identify common emotions at each stage, as well as common roadblocks that prevent customers from moving forward. At this stage, you’ll just be working from gut feelings. When you collect feedback across the journey you’ll be able to refine each touchpoint and understand what customers actually experience. 

Dutch multinational bank, Rabobank, implemented Usabilla to help collect digital feedback based on their customer journeys. Finbar Hage, Head of Data & Analytics said that “One of the first steps [to improving customer loyalty] has been to dive into the customer journeys and see where our customers are facing their biggest issues. This allowed us to focus on solving these problems and to improve the overall experience.” 

Rabobank offers a number of more complex customer journeys; with Usabilla, they can break these journeys down and optimize each one step-by-step. 

For more on customer journey mapping, check out this free customer journey mapping guide.

Laying the groundwork for collecting customer feedback

The first step to getting started with customer feedback is to build an internal culture that’s receptive to customer data. Investing in empathy training and supporting your front-line employees will create a culture where feedback is seen as valuable. Without creating the foundation for a customer-centric institution, you won’t be able to take full advantage of digital feedback. 

Secondly, understand when to ask for feedback. Too many sites push feedback forms too early in the customer journey. The homepage of your bank is where many prospects will develop their first opinion. If you clutter the site with pop-ups and forms, not only will you not get great feedback, but you may actually harm the prospective customer’s experience. 

As Forrester says in their recent report, Retention Is Not Enough, “Few prospects will uncover buried content or learn how to use quirky navigation, let alone give feedback on how to make the site more effective.” 

Instead, position your feedback requests at a time and place that makes sense. After a customer completes an application, ask for their opinion on the process. Deploy a question as customers are paying bills. Email a survey after a customer has purchased a house asking for their thoughts on the mortgage process. When customers are more invested, they will be more likely to engage with requests for feedback. 

Now that we know how to set the groundwork for collecting feedback, let’s dive into the different strategies for doing so successfully. 

Chapter 3

Proactive feedback strategies for a best-in-class digital experience

While simply listening to customer feedback across the customer journey can help design a better digital experience, being proactive about collecting feedback in a smart way will help you stand out from the competition. 


Collecting feedback across multiple channels, using proven customer satisfaction metrics, and connecting feedback to customer demographics will help you better prioritize customer experience strategies. 

Collect feedback across multiple channels

The exciting part about customer’s journeys today is that they occur across multiple channels. 

Feedback needs to be collected across every channel including both digital platforms and in-person experiences. Then, that feedback needs to be analyzed together to understand which channels are driving customer loyalty, and which channels are creating friction. Let’s go over the most important channels to use for collecting feedback.  

Email surveys

An email is a direct line to your customer. It’s easy to target a specific segment of your customer base, and you can choose when to send the survey based on sign-up date or billing dates. 

Even if customers aren’t often logging in to digital platforms, you can solicit feedback from contacting them directly. You can also collect feedback within the email experience for a pulse on email sentiment using thumbs up or thumbs down or other icons. 

Best practices for email surveys: 

  • Email is a valuable channel to recruit participants into longer surveys you may have created. This way, the customer has the option to take the longer survey, but it’s not intrusive. 

  • Use a feedback widget at the bottom of your emails to get feedback on how your emails are being received. Ensure your emails are sending the right message to the right audience.

Usabilla for Email

(Usabilla for email feedback widget) 

Website feedback button

Gathering feedback from visitors directly on the site can provide “in the moment” insight that’s extremely valuable. Rather than sending a post-experience survey, use website feedback to ask specific questions to understand visitor’s goals. Did they find what they were looking for? Did they run into any bugs?

Best practices for the feedback button: 

  • The feedback button should be persistent across all pages so that whether a customer is on the homepage or reading about their bank account in the resource center, they have the option to leave feedback.

  • The feedback button can be placed anywhere on your website or app, but we recommend putting it on the right-hand side of the page. Our eyes naturally move from left to right when consuming content, so this is a logical place for the feedback button to live. 

  • Offer the option to the customer to take a screenshot of whichever element they’re leaving feedback on. This adds context to their feedback, and also makes fixing issues easier as the screenshot will include the HTML snippet. 

feedback button usabilla 2

(Usabilla feedback button)

In-app feedback

Similar to website feedback tools, in-app feedback can provide instant insight into where your customers are struggling. By understanding how users want to use your digital platforms, you can make it easier for them to discover the features they need. 

Best practices for in-app feedback: 

  • Use both a feedback button and in-the-moment surveys on your apps to capture a variety of feedback. 

  • Keep in-the-moment surveys down to 1 to 5 questions on apps. Mobile customers tend to browse faster, or when they’re on the go, so keeping app surveys short is in your best interest. 

  • Encourage app users to leave feedback in the app experience through the feedback button or targeted surveys. This way, they can communicate directly with you and you can avoid a negative review in the app store. 

In-app survey purple

(Usabilla in-app survey)

In-person feedback

Even as more customers move towards completing most of their banking on digital platforms, in-person feedback is still important. Blending the experience between in-person and online banking will be a major challenge for banks moving forward. 

How can you deliver the same personalized, helpful service in-person customers love? Listening to their feedback is one way to start. 

Even as more customers move towards completing most of their banking on digital platforms, in-person feedback is still important. Blending the experience between in-person and online banking will be a major challenge for banks moving forward. 

How can you deliver the same personalized, helpful service in-person customers love? Listening to their feedback is one way to start. 

Best practices for in-person feedback: 

  • Create a QR code in your physical locations to take customers to a survey. This way, customers can offer their insight while they wait or simply choose to take the survey later. 

  • If you have kiosks or tablets in your bank, have a feedback button available for customers who want to give feedback. 

QR Code feedback

(Usabilla QR code survey)

In-the-moment surveys

A small, non-intrusive questionnaire containing less than five questions is a great way to capture customer sentiment at different points in the customer journey. By targeting your surveys towards specific demographics, you see a clearer picture of the customer journey based on various digital journeys and buyer personas. 

Best practices for in-the-moment surveys: 

  • Use small modal slide-out surveys to capture key UX metrics such as NPS, CSAT, and CES, or digital market research. 

  • In general, it’s a good rule to include an open-text box for customers to leave qualitative insight. 

  • Target your surveys based on various customer demographics as well as what page the customer is on. For example, deploy a survey to customers between the ages of 18-26. Similarly, create a survey on your “create an account” page to capture feedback specific to that page.  

  • Continuously analyze and update your surveys to capture a wide variety of feedback on the various points in the customer journey. 

Collect customer satisfaction metrics 

There are many metrics that provide meaningful feedback through the use of a proven survey format. Tracking these metrics over time, and over different user journeys will help you find where customers run into trouble and how new features are received. 

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS asks the question “How likely are you to recommend [placeholder of brand name] business to a family or friend?” with 1 being the least likely and 10 being the most likely. Customers that respond with a 9 or 10 are Promoters who will advocate for your bank, while those that respond 6 or lower are Detractors who are at a high risk of defecting to a competitor. 

NPS GIF

(Usabilla NPS question)

Much of the value of NPS surveys comes from adding a follow-up question that asks why the customer gave the response they did. Doing more of what Promoters like and less of what Detractors dislike is a great way to build customer loyalty. In fact, NPS is one of the best predictors of customer loyalty and business success. Financial institutions with an NPS score over 60 see a 26% higher level of income growth compared to those with a score below 60. 

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

CSAT is another quick survey that provides tons of useful feedback from customers. Most CSAT surveys ask “How satisfied are you with X?” where X can be the last interaction they had with the customer service team, a specific journey within the app, or their overall experience with your bank. 

CSAT is a great way to find places within the journey that trigger dissatisfaction. According to American Express, Americans will tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, and after one poor experience, half of the customers will never do business with that company again. These stats illustrate that finding and eliminating drivers of dissatisfaction is key to improving customer loyalty. 

csat survey

(Usabilla CSAT survey with open-text box)

Customer Effort Score (CES)

CES is one of the newest standardized metrics for measuring customer experience. The CES survey asks customers how easy it was to accomplish their goal, using a scale of 1 (very difficult) to 7 (very easy). 

A customer’s goal could be getting help or completing an application for a new account. The theory is that customers want to do business with banks that make it easy to get things done. If customers need to jump through hoops to complete transactions or get assistance, they are more likely to churn. 

In fact, 94% of customers who report having a high-effort experience are likely to be disloyal in the future, compared to only 6% of customers who have low-effort experiences.

CES full survey

(Usabilla slide-out CES survey on desktop)

Use CES to spot friction points along your journey. When you’re collecting feedback using in-app feedback collection tools, you can pinpoint exactly where customers are struggling to complete an action. By collecting this feedback over time, you can see how new design changes impact your customer’s experience.

Connecting feedback to customer demographics

Understanding what customers want is one thing, but if you can pinpoint each customer’s individual needs, it’s much easier to prioritize improvements. 

There are multiple ways to do this. You can target micro-surveys specific to different demographics. For example, customers ages 18-25 might have different needs than customers who are 60-80 years old. 

If you have your customer’s account information included in the survey, you can pull more context from your backend systems to complement survey feedback.

Chapter 4

The financial benefits of delivering a great digital experience

In case you need more reasons to invest in the digital experience, there are proven financial returns on investment in this area:

  • Financial institutions that lead in customer experience have, according to a study by Kantar, a 1.9x higher recommendation rate, a higher share of deposits, and a 2.1x greater likelihood that customers will increase their portfolio of new products and services from their bank.

  • Brands that invest in DX see revenues increase as much as 10-15% while also lowering their service costs by 15-20%, according to McKinsey research. 

  • 84% of companies that invest in improving their CX report an increase in their revenue, according to Dimension Data's 2017 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report.

  • A superior CX can bring in 5.7 times more revenue than a lagging CX, according to Forrester. This is especially true for industries, like financial services, where the market is crowded and customers are free to shop around and switch providers. 

Time and time again, studies say that investing in customer experience is a winning strategy. But proving that your own investments are paying off can be a little more difficult. It requires translating intangibles like “good customer experience” into financial metrics that mean something to your business’ balance sheet. 

To demonstrate the financial benefits of your DX investments, you’ll need to measure the impact on business KPIs such as retention, customer lifetime value, and customer advocacy. For more on proving the return on investment (ROI) of your digital experience strategy, check out our video on how to prove the ROI of CX (with actual math)

Consider the following situation:

When collecting feedback around the process of opening a new checking account you notice that multiple customers under the age of 30 have required clarification about the field asking for an annual salary. Based on the feedback they received, your customer service manager suggests including a hover-over explanation on that field to explain how to calculate an annual salary, depending on your current employment status. 

Sounds good! You put the new copy in place and continue to track customer feedback and application success rate. 

After making the changes, the number of completed applications increases by 5%. Using your lifetime value calculations, it’s possible to show exactly how much more business that user experience (UX) change generated. 

While this is just a simple example, every change that you make to your customers’ digital experience can be tied back to financial metrics. The key is to find how you’re impacting customer behaviors so that you can convert action into business growth.

Conclusion

The financial industry is a highly competitive landscape. How can you incorporate feedback into your strategy to stand out from the competition?

Capturing insights from your customers across digital channels and understanding your customers’ journeys will build stronger, more trusting relationships. Transforming your bank from a transactional institution to a holistic financial resource will capture your customers’ emotions and build brand energy.  

Only by using customer feedback can you drive customer loyalty and continue to grow your business in the age of digital finance.

Our sister company, Usabilla, can help you jumpstart your customer feedback program today. To learn how click here.

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