By Tamir Sigal
The year 2008 is one most banking or financial services organizations would like to forget. From the subprime mortgage crisis to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the U.S. was in a difficult state financially, which, in turn, precipitated a global economic downturn. Consumers, used to viewing financial institutions as trusted advisors, began to view them as highly suspect organizations.
To survive the downturn, these institutions had to become experts at customer retention, giving rise to a new discipline: the customer experience (CX).
In the early days of the downturn, the individuals tasked with improving CX faced baptism by fire. It was a period that called for accelerated learning and fast action. Focused on end-to-end customer experience initiatives, they used the prevailing sense of urgency to drive CX initiatives across departments, identifying the need for cross-channel communications and advanced journey mapping.
The results of their efforts brought increasing respect for (and dependence on) CX as a discipline.
Today, banking organizations see CX as a key business objective—not only for customer retention, but to attract customers, drive revenue, and create brand advocates.
So the evolution of CX continues.
Where is CX heading in the future? We spoke with a recent panel of CX executives from the financial services and insurance industries to find out. They identified eight key considerations that they believe will shape CX initiatives moving forward.
- The reality that customers are in charge
Omnichannel integration will grow in importance as communications become customer-initiated. The ability to service multiple channels will define how organizations can deliver services and interact with a given customer. CX leaders expect to see exponential change in this area. Several noted that just a few years ago, consumers would have expected organizations to drive communications, but today that is no longer acceptable. Customers are now driving the message, abetted by social media and mobile devices.
- Data-driven experiences
The panel also pointed to the power of data modeling to transform customer- and data-driven experiences. To offer relevant services or products, you need detailed data. In the future, you will be able to predict what the customer wants, and offer it at the appropriate time. The future will be driven by customer data modeling, with predictive analytics and propensity modeling.
Predictive analytics will be particularly important as it is the next step in the feedback loop and informs how to target and segment the customer experience. But CX is also about being able to quantify the results, so post-implementation analytics will continue to play an important role.
- The need to overcome legacy infrastructure
The CX leaders told us that consumers want real-time access to manage their data and communications, and hence are really the ones driving what a company offers—or should be. Banking and other financial organizations need to deal with antiquated infrastructure while building a personalized digital/social solution for customers.
To compound the challenge, new solutions must be cost-effective and able to scale as the pool of available data and the number of communication channels grow, ensuring that optimal CX remains a manageable investment. Systems also need to be designed to evolve. This is of paramount importance as future generations are going to be fundamentally different from today’s consumers.
- Big data and AI
CX leaders are beginning to examine how to integrate their systems with big data and the myriad sources of customer information. Some on the panel saw the use of AI-driven processes as a way to allow them to proactively meet customers’ expectations and, as a result, differentiate themselves more effectively.
- The move to digital
CX leaders predict that traditional channels, including phone and mail, will continue to shift as members of the population age. A mix of marketing and servicing will skew toward online and mobile environments. Companies need to minimize old-school ways to make it easier for customers to get answers without picking up the phone. The availability of solutions to create effective channels, including video chat, makes it relatively easy to offer more options. In the near future, organizations will embrace these solutions.
- Social listening
Most leaders see social as a channel where customers will continue to share their experience and knowledge. As a result, servicing through a social channel will be key. Banking organizations must be able to identify complaints via negative sentiment to get ahead of problems. They need to nurture customers to create fans in the digital and social space who will help the business.
- Visibility into every touchpoint
CX leaders need to define a meaningful contact management strategy. All banks send emails, call customers, and mail letters—but most of them don’t know what they did or when they did it. Even within a single line of business, marketers frequently don’t know what the last touch was—across silos it’s even worse. If individual departments have poor visibility, imagine how blind the organization as a whole can be.
To succeed in this continually evolving environment, bank marketers are making it a priority to find and implement solutions that answer critical CX questions, including:
- How often have we contacted the customer?
- Are we investing in the right touchpoints?
- Did the customer act?
- Did the customer respond?
Many banking organizations may not yet have the dashboards and tools required to make collecting this kind of data a reality. Imagine if you had a 360-degree view of the customer, all the contacts made and actions taken. According to the CX leaders we spoke to, that level of granularity will be required for success in the future.
Tamir Sigal is CMO at GMC Software, a leader in customer communications. Sigal is a seasoned marketing executive with 20 years’ experience in enterprise software, governance, enterprise archiving, document management, records management and regulatory affairs. Sigal is a regular presenter at numerous industry events.