Customer Experience Strategies in Banking: What’s Trending

Leaders at successful financial institutions know that continuously raising the bar on customer experience gives them a competitive edge. New research reveals where most of the CX improvements are being made.

Successful financial institutions are on a never-ending quest to improve their customer experience. Leaders at these institutions know that continuously raising the bar on customer expectations and interactions can drive their business metrics in the right direction — and give them a competitive edge.

A subset of digital transformation, CX transformation leverages technology to improve customer and/or agent experience, driving measurable business success. Though major CX transformation projects typically come to an end at some point, the ability to transform at a moment’s notice must be embedded in the company’s culture to improve the odds of success.

More than half of companies of all types are seeking to transform their customer experience in 2022: Already this year, 27.2% of organizations have completed a CX transformation initiative or have one underway, and another 25.3% are planning to do so, according to a new Customer Experience Transformation study of 724 companies in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, conducted by Metrigy, a research and strategic advisory firm.

Financial Firms More Aggressive with CX Transformation

The financial services industry — including banks, insurance, investment and diversified companies — is significantly more aggressive with CX transformation initiatives compared to all industries combined. More than 70% of financial services companies are transforming: 39.7% have completed a project or have one in progress and 30.9% are planning for a project by the end of 2022, according to the study.

In the study, Metrigy evaluated before-and-after business metrics from research participants for conversational AI, self-service knowledge management, visual engagement, workforce engagement management and unified communications (UC)/contact center integration. We evaluated four business metrics — customer ratings, revenue, operational costs and employee productivity — and placed those with above-average improvements in a research success group.

Organizations saw improvements in all of the technology areas, but visual engagement (video, co-browsing and screen-sharing) resulted in the highest average improvement among the success group. In financial services, the results were consistently high across the board, as shown below.

Success group average improvements – financial services

The initiatives that constitute a CX transformation may vary. But the ultimate goal is to provide a five-star experience for customers, regardless of how they interact. According to the study, specific CX transformation projects include (but aren’t limited to) the following:

  • Channel and integration improvements — adding new ways for customers to interact, such as visual engagement and self-service capabilities (including knowledge bases and conversational AI/chatbots); also integrating contact center and UC platforms
  • Analytics improvements — adding analytics tools to improve agent performance or scheduling; launching Voice of the Customer programs to track customer sentiment
  • Foundational improvements — establishing high-performance work-from-home (WFH) capabilities, bolstering fraud prevention; adding management capabilities to improve audio, video, or network performance

Adding Visual Engagement to Customer Interactions

Consumers have grown accustomed to interacting with video and other visual means in their personal and professional lives. So why not extend those benefits when interacting with a banker, insurance broker or investment advisor?

CX leaders are catching on and increasingly extending video to their customers — often through integrating contact center and UC platforms. For example, when representatives are on web chats with prospective customers evaluating mortgage options, they can send a video link from their UC platform (Teams, Webex, Zoom, etc.) to start a video, screen-share or co-browse.

Though this approach provides a better experience than strictly textual or verbal communications, some of these platforms do not integrate with CX applications, such as transcription, CRM, Natural Language Processing or agent assist.

Missing Integration:

In an effort to be more visual, bankers are extending video to customers. But these platforms don't always work well with CX technologies.

As a result, some companies opt for technology providers that specialize in visual engagement and integrate with websites and apps for customers, as well as various contact center platforms and applications for agents.

By the end of 2022, 66.8% of financial services organizations will be using visual engagement applications for their customer interactions (42.6% are using them now, and 24.2% are planning to). Only 3% have no plans to use visual engagement (the balance is evaluating or planning for 2023 or beyond). Screen-sharing (50%) is the top visual application in use, followed closely by one-to-one video (47%), according to the study.

When CX leaders were asked why they have added video to their customer interaction channels, six reasons topped the list:

  • Video makes interactions more efficient to solve issues faster (50%)
  • Video improves customer relationships with more personal interactions (49.2%)
  • The pandemic made everyone used to using video (45.9%)
  • Customers were asking for it (40%)
  • Interactions required agents or customers to see something (36%)
  • Agents wanted to use it (36%)

Because of the consultative nature of financial interactions, the ability to see the person providing advice is well-received by customers — especially considering the sensitivity and confidentiality of the advice. In addition, advisors, brokers, or bankers often want to review accounts, investments, interest rates, or insurance options with their customers, so screen-sharing and co-browsing are imperative for a truly successful interaction.

Self-Service Is Also Critical

Although many financial-related interactions benefit from live interactions with agents using visual engagement applications, some interactions don’t require that level of sophistication — at least initially. The key to delivering stellar customer experience is anticipating demands and providing the technology and staff to meet customers where and how they prefer.

Ideally, when customers prefer self-service, it’s there and works well. When customers want personal interactions, they are able to use visual engagement applications either right from the start, or as an escalation point from a self-service channel when it’s not delivering expected results.

Self-service knowledge management systems store and manage content used for “Frequently Asked Questions,” product or service information, how-to videos and more. Nearly 73% of financial services companies are using knowledge management systems or plan to by the end of 2022. Keep in mind, these knowledge management systems also help agents provide service to customers.

Often, companies pair their self-service knowledge management system with conversational AI (chatbots). The chatbots help guide customers through the knowledge management system to find the information they need — or escalate to a live agent. Today, 39.4% of financial companies use conversational AI, and another 22.7% plan to have it in place by the end of 2022.

AI Status in Banking:

Two in five financial firms have already installed artificial intelligence software. Another one in five plans to.

Guiding customers through knowledge bases is the top use for conversational AI for financial-services companies, followed by handling a process (transferring money, placing orders, etc.), automating responses, scheduling meetings and providing contextual screen-pops to agents.

Foundational Improvements for Banks

Adding delay-sensitive applications such as video, require a strong technical foundation. That’s why among financial companies, the top CX transformation project is foundational: 41.7% are transforming the workplace by establishing high-performance work-from-home capabilities. This could include higher-speed internet access, tools to diagnose and resolve problems or an IT staff reorganization to provide more hands-on assistance.

Financial services firms have more agents working from home (54.7%), compared to the average of 47.2%. Investment companies have the most agents working from home, followed by insurance, diversified and banking. Moving forward, financial companies plan to continue with a WFH strategy at higher rates than average. Nearly 70% will continue allowing agents to work from home full or part-time, compared with 58.8% of all industries, on average.

Given that strategy, it’s vital to ensure that home workers have solid network, audio and video performance — particularly considering the crucial nature of their interactions. They may be providing timely investment advice, processing an insurance claim or finalizing a mortgage application.

Integrating Key CX Platforms

Once the foundation has been solidified, financial companies are eyeing new integrations, more interaction channels and more comprehensive analytics.

One-third of financial institutions are integrating contact center and UC platforms for a few reasons. By breaking down the artificial barriers that have existed for decades, agents can access other specialists or experts in the organization that work outside the formal contact center.

With platform integration, the agents can see the presence status of all employees, and if available, add selected experts onto calls or videos to get immediate answers to questions or professional insight they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Use Analytics to Guide Actions

Adding technology can be successful — or not. And without the data to make the right decision, companies may be investing in the wrong transformations and the wrong technologies. Financial companies are investing in the following analytics applications today:

  • Agent analytics (67.3%)
  • Employee satisfaction surveys (63.6%)
  • Voice of the Customer surveys (43.6%)
  • Predictive analytics (41.8%)
  • Sentiment analytics (40%)

By evaluating feedback, performance and passive data (network utilization, sentiment analysis, etc.), companies can identify trends and technologies that boost customer ratings. For example, they can see how self-service interactions affect CSAT scores — and then adjust as needed to continue seeing ratings improve. They also can tie post-call surveys to individual agents, regions, or teams to draw conclusions about their performance.

Transforming CX is crucial to success for financial companies — particularly considering customer satisfaction is the top business priority, followed by information security, revenue generation, and employee retention, according to the Metrigy study. Successful companies embrace transformation, and they are using a variety of technologies to improve CX and measure success.

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