The financial services industry has been rocked to its core by a number of recent developments: a series of reputational issues, a wave of heavy regulation from government agencies, the emergence of digital currencies, and nontraditional competitors, including PayPal and Venmo, entering the market. Add razor-thin margins to the mix, and it’s clear why banks and other financial institutions are fighting to attract new customers and maintain relationships with their current customers.
No longer can financial organizations differentiate on the basis of their products and offerings alone. Instead of focusing on what financial institutions offer customers, such as a savings account, mortgage or investment portfolio, they need to reconsider how they help customers solve problems, such as managing their money better, buying a home affordably or saving for retirement. As they do this, they should learn customer experience best practices from leading customer-focused organizations and refocus on delivering a seamless experience that delights customers and builds loyalty, regardless of channel: in a branch, over the phone, on a website or through a mobile app.
To achieve this goal and build a sound customer experience strategy, financial institutions must put their customers at the center of everything they do. This first requires financial organizations to understand their customers’ journey.
The Importance of Customer Journey Maps for Financial Institutions’ Customer Experience Strategy
To develop a successful customer experience strategy, financial institutions must walk in their customers’ shoes to understand their perceptions at every touchpoint, from initial contact through customer support. The customers of financial institutions take varied and numerous paths that cross numerous departments, from onboarding to transacting and solving problems, and all of them should be documented in journey maps.
Along the way, the organization must consider how each department—marketing, sales and customer service among them—interacts with the customer. Given the frequency of handoffs between teams, journey maps can identify gaps in connections and diagnose problems that may arise when one team makes a promise that another can’t keep.
Creating a customer experience that builds loyalty is a collective experience that requires every team member to collaborate, from bank tellers to phone support representatives, to avoid creating silos that might damage the customer experience. And every team member needs the customer service skills to bridge the gap, so customers never feel any friction as they solve problems or seek to change the products and services in their portfolio.
Service Professionals Make the Difference in Customer Experience for Financial Institutions
Service representatives have 10 times more contact with customers than sellers, and they’re often in the best position to help financial services firms maintain and grow relationships with customers by suggesting new products and services.
But service center interactions may present a significant risk to customer relationships. Here are two examples:
- When discussing products and services, banking service reps have detailed scripts they must follow to comply with the laws and regulations governing their industry. Simply reading this fine print over the phone can quickly turn off customers. But service reps shouldn’t be tied to a check-the-box, monotone delivery of information. They should soften their approach by explaining why they’re reading the fine print and openly appreciating their customers for listening and bearing with them. Steps like these balance satisfying compliance obligations with being in tune with customers’ needs.
- Money is an incredibly personal and fraught topic for most customers. By the time they reach out to customer service to address a problem, their emotions may have already flared. It doesn’t take much for these conversations to escalate. Service reps need to take the time to listen to each customer’s concerns, defuse tense situations and get to the bottom of their needs before offering solutions. To do this, they must be patient, confirm their understanding of the customer’s position and reiterate that they have the customer’s best interests at heart.
Miller Heiman Group’s Service Ready training has helped customer-facing roles—including customer service associates, call center agents, sales specialists, branch and retail salespeople and wealth managers—learn customer experience best practices that offer a higher level of service and grow customer relationships. Participants in Bridging Service Into Sales and our other customer experience training courses learn how to recognize opportunities and propose solutions that match customers’ needs.
Financial services organizations that enrolled in Service Ready training saw immediate improvements in their customer experience metrics:
- One financial services and asset management group increased its customer satisfaction (CSAT) score by double digits.
- Another institution exceeded its products per customer improvement target, exceeded its CSAT improvement target and maintained its average call duration.
- A financial services provider improved its employee skills from 87% to 99% proficiency, achieved a CSAT increase of more than 10% and raised its first call resolution from 29% to 52%.
Learn more about our Service Ready customer experience training suite now to give your organization’s service reps the skills, methodologies and processes essential to ensuring exceptional interactions at every touchpoint of the customer journey.