By Joseph Moss – firstname.lastname@example.org
In an increasingly digital-dominated environment, customers are naturally looking for a seamless online experience, regardless of whether this experience relates to shopping, entertainment, education or banking. While bankers and other financial-services providers are clearly conscious of the importance of quality customer service, it seems they have a lot to do to improve it, according to experts.
A survey by contact-center provider Avaya, for instance, has revealed that although a huge majority of financial-services providers are aware of how important customer-experience management is, they seem to be less aware of what exactly it is that customers want. What they want, according to the Avaya study, reviewed by Banking Technology editor David Bannister, is a highly personalized experience across channels. More specifically, 70 percent of financial-services users expect real-time communication on all channels. An even greater majority of 92 percent want their banks to be more proactive when they have identified an issue about which the customer needs to be notified, and they also expect them to offer solutions to these issues. What’s perhaps more important, 69 percent of customers surveyed say they want to be treated in a unique way, including being contacted in a way and at a time that prioritizes their personal convenience, not the bank’s, and being offered products that have been tailored in accordance with their personal preferences. In other words, the study is just one more proof of the overwhelming trend towards the personalization of any kind of service or product, and the drive towards high-quality omnichannel experience.
But providing personalized services for a huge number of customers is not a task accomplished easily, and bankers are aware of that as well. Some 44 percent of financial-services respondents in the Avaya study said they lacked the necessary technological means to provide the experience their customers expect, a percentage that went as high as 68 percent when IT professionals working at financial-services providers were asked the same question. This, on the one hand, may imply that non-IT decision-makers tend to underestimate the growing role of information technology in improving customer experience, even though they seem to be perfectly aware of how important technology is for their operations; banking majors are increasingly automating a lot of their business, seeking to cut costs and improve efficiency. On the other hand, it may once again point towards an imperfect understanding of the importance of customer experience. So how can things change?
According to IBM’s global industry leader for banking and financial markets, Likhit Wagle, the answer lies in big data and analytics, two buzzwords that have been very prominent in marketing but apparently not prominent enough in financial services. Wagle notes that the discrepancy between how bankers and customers view customer experience is striking: 80 percent of banking CEOs, he says, believe they provide high-quality service, but this view is shared by only eight percent of customers themselves. Big data and analytics can help close this huge gap since big data is a major tool in tailoring personalized products and services, regardless of the industry.
Banking and financial-services providers have more data than any other industry at their disposal, Wagle points out, but they should do more to harness this information in a meaningful way. Put simply, since every transaction a customer makes provides a piece of information about them, collecting and analyzing the data about all transactions or other behaviors of an individual customer will help the bank get an idea about their needs and preferences for products and services. This is the shortest way to offering the personalized experience customers demand today, especially given that there is hardly a bank left that doesn’t offer online and mobile banking, which makes the data-collection process easier than ever before.