Financial services organizations today are focused on building accessible, seamless and secure customer experiences. The rise of digital banks, payment platforms and fintech disruptors has created an innovative and competitive customer landscape — challengers are coming from all sides. Maintaining customer mindshare, reducing the cost to serve, and driving agility through accelerated digital transformation and customer experience (CX) are key to sustained growth. And many banks have made significant progress. Retail banks that excel in developing and applying customer insights while also driving digital transformation grow 3.2 times faster than their industry peers, according to Forrester research.
For insurance companies that are also facing rising competition, CX is an opportunity to provide empathy, listening and understanding to customers with whom they might not interact frequently. Some 70% of consumers worldwide say a company is only as good as its service, and that being listened to and understood is the most important factor in a service interaction. But for insurers, gaining insights to optimize products or processes, increase retention and conversion rates, and find opportunities for efficiency is also top of mind.
In April and May 2021, Genesys surveyed 2,629 consumers and 690 CX executives across Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America to determine the state of CX. From the financial services industry respondents, we learned three key insights:
1. Personalization is a largely untapped opportunity
The data show that ROI for companies devoting time, effort and resources into creating meaningful and customized experiences is growing. In 2021, consumers said they are more likely than they were in 2017 to purchase additional items, make recommendations to friends and colleagues and devote a greater share of wallet to companies that consistently personalize their experience. Consumers under age 35 are more highly motivated by personalization than older age groups.
Some 37% of CX leaders in financial services said their companies offer an extremely personalized customer experience, less than the average of all companies (44%). At a third of surveyed financial services companies, the customer experience is still “somewhat” or “not at all” personalized. To close this gap, the top strategic focus area for CX leaders in banking and insurance in 2021 is using data and artificial intelligence (AI) for greater customer understanding and personalization. For banks, personalization represents a shift toward providing advisory services; for insurers it’s a trend toward prevention — personal lines insurers are focusing on telematics, for example.
Know your customer: The best way for companies to provide empathetic customer experiences is knowing who their customer is and providing contextual guidance and relevant financial recommendations based on their journeys, needs and preferences. This requires unifying data and improving listening channels, whether it’s using digital engagement to understand intent, real-time sentiment analysis to adjust in the moment or AI across digital channels to gather insights. Companies can also use AI to bolster voice channels with natural language processing, speech to text and sentiment analysis.
Capturing data’s full potential is key to CX success
Nationwide is a Fortune 100 insurance company with property, casualty and financial services businesses. The company has a rich history dating back to 1926 and ranks in the top 10 on a wide variety of insurance products across the US.
Its customer value proposition revolves around price, product and service quality, said Sri Sankar, VP, Customer Experience Strategy and Engagement. “Our end customers want to have a good selection of coverage and policies at the lowest price possible,” said Sankar. And during interactions, customers expect quality experiences that are “effortless, personal and reassuring.”
“In addition to the end customer, Nationwide is also focused on improving the experiences of our intermediaries: Over 90% of our business is represented by an agent, broker or advisor,” said Sankar.
In partnership with the business units, creating these seamless experiences for end customers and intermediaries is the focus of Sankar’s team, which drives the voice of the customer program — providing and maintaining the single consistent view of the customer to the organization. Nationwide has a wide range of products and a variety of channels for customers to engage with the company. One of the key priorities for the company’s CX strategy is to fully leverage customer data to better understand customers’ needs and improve the experiences across its breadth of products and channels. Sankar said Nationwide is invested in using data to meet end customers and intermediaries where they are — and provide extraordinary care.
Leveraging integrated data
Connected, real-time data is key for any organization’s ability to understand its customers and provide personalized experiences. As data from various systems is brought together and connected, Nationwide can deliver personalized experiences to its end customers and intermediaries. When a customer calls, associates know who they are, their tenure with the company, what products they have, their contact preferences and more. This provides the first element of personalization; customers no longer need to explain or repeat themselves, said Sankar. But this doesn’t capture the data’s full potential. “As customers move across devices and channels, we are continuously working on how best to leverage data to deliver richer omnichannel experiences,” he added.
Data and AI are instrumental to enhancing the customer experience — both end customer and intermediary — by delivering efficient, personalized experiences for all.
2. The need to move from digital adoption to satisfaction
Consumer behavior has evolved significantly since 2017. Voice remains the most popular CX channel worldwide, but digital is growing rapidly. Genesys Cloud CX™ platform data shows overall transaction volume in financial services companies grew 169% when comparing Q2 2020 and Q2 2021.
In retail banking, the pandemic highlighted the importance of effective digital channels. More than half of US consumers consider a well-designed banking app to be a primary factor in choosing a bank, according to a 2020 Deloitte survey. Yet, pain points still exist — from clunky self-service functionality to disjointed transfers across channels.
CX leaders in financial services are most confident about the effectiveness of their company’s human channels — video-calling, voice and live webchat — in meeting customer expectations. They are least confident in their chatbots. Data shows that improvements can be made to self-service, a major priority for banks and insurers to reduce call volume. Just 40% of financial services leaders consider their company highly effective in providing a first-contact resolution (FCR) — one of the leading satisfaction indicators for consumers. Some 25% say their company significantly minimizes customer effort. It’s time to focus on digital satisfaction, as well as digital adoption.
Leverage the power of CX analytics: Companies can mine the rich data that digital channels generate to inform strategy across sales, marketing and service. Powerful analytics enable organizations to understand which customers are driving interaction volume, what their intents are and how to better engage them in the future. These analytics also allow companies to listen more carefully, align around consumer preferences and eliminate pain points in the journey. Empathy begins with listening.
A clearly defined channel strategy is a win-win
The Rabobank channel strategy is designed to drive value for customers, as well as value for the bank. The bank has three main customer interaction channels: messaging either with a virtual assistant or live agent; voice, which has become a bigger channel for the bank since the pandemic began; and video, which plays an important role in delivering empathy for customers making big financial decisions. The bank now makes 15,000 video calls with customers each month.
Customer journeys are plotted on a two-by-two matrix, with value to the customer on one axis and value to the bank on the other. “For everyday banking matters, the focus is on ‘time well saved,’” said Thom Kokhuis, Head of Conversational Banking and CRM, where digital interactions and self-service come first. Human interactions are key to delivering great experiences for journeys in the “time well spent” category, which is high impact to the customer and the bank, he said.
Rabobank’s channel strategy framework
For important life events, such as buying a new house or dealing with bereavement, the customer journey progresses from voice to video. With video “you can show your emotion and empathy,” said Kokhuis, which really “makes a difference and boosts customer satisfaction in these life-changing event journeys.”Personalization and reducing customer effort are major focus areas for Rabobank. To facilitate more seamless repeat interactions — such as those between a customer and a mortgage advisor — the bank’s CRM system identifies the caller and routes him directly to the relevant person. They can identify 80% of callers and, by predicting intent, either steer them to the relevant self-service content or — if they recognize the customer has already tried that — put them through to an agent immediately.
Next in the strategy is adding new features like callbacks, which allow customers to hold their place in the queue without waiting on the line, as well as forecasting and scheduling technology. In addition to increasing customer satisfaction, callbacks can also make agents’ lives easier. When customers get through, “they are not annoyed or irritated by their waiting time,” said Kokhuis, “and that makes happy employees.”
3. Data security is a key benefit to cloud
Managing data privacy and maintaining compliance and service quality while operating aging technology are leading CX challenges for financial services companies today. These hinder financial services organizations in providing seamless customer experiences, through a lack of consolidated data and analytics as well as a lack of a unified view of the customer. As customers migrated from branches to digital channels — and financial services employees moved to remote working environments during the pandemic — they became more vulnerable to increased cyberattacks. The pandemic also highlighted many of the limitations of aging technology, particularly its rigidity and inability to scale.
Cloud and AI-based technology can empower teams with rich data and dashboards, support them in the moment, offload administrative tasks, and drive quality and consistency. CX leaders in financial services cite better data security and risk management, and better access to data across channels as the greatest benefits of moving to the cloud.
Plot your path to cloud: Survey data shows the majority (70%) of CX leaders using on-premises technology are considering the cloud. Cloud platforms allow companies to benefit from industry-leading security, innovation and scale. They’re also much more energy efficient than on-premises technologies. Genesys analysis estimates that where every on-premises hardware deployment generates 38.99 metrics tons of carbon dioxide, a cloud customer will generate just 4.3 metric tons — almost 90% less. The key question becomes which cloud model is the best fit for your organization and business strategy.