SMPL Q&A is a blog feature in which we interview experts on all things relevant to branding, design and simplicity. In this Q&A we speak with strategy analyst Sofia Cokis about how financial services companies are reimagining their customer experience.
Across industries, digital experiences impact customer expectations. What lessons can financial services companies learn from this trend?
It’s important to recognize that customer expectations for faster and simpler experiences are being set outside the financial services industry by small, everyday interactions with companies like Facebook, Amazon and Netflix. The ease with which you can pause and play your favorite TV show, track your online order and connect with friends around the globe is changing the standard for businesses across industries.
Consumer interactions with financial services companies are transactional and task-oriented. With the challenges the industry currently faces—such as customer confusion and, more recently, widespread customer distrust—there’s significant opportunity for financial service brands to improve their experience and exceed expectations. For this reason, the most successful financial services companies are doubling down on their commitment to both enhance transactional ease and build strong relationships with their customers.
What strategies can financial services companies with traditional business models employ to deepen their relationships with customers?
There’s ample opportunity for financial services companies to improve the overall customer experience. With customer confusion being a central problem, financial services brands should focus on making those everyday customer interactions completely frictionless and personalized. To this end, financial services companies should anticipate customer needs, and employ technology that enables their customers to personalize and manage their finances in a way that works for them.
Financial services companies need to focus their efforts on making customers feel it’s easy to interact with their bank. Whether that be logging in to the bank’s mobile app and being greeted by name, knowing that personalized settings will be saved to your account, or being informed in advance that there’s no need for you to alert the bank of international travel plans, financial services companies need to anticipate and exceed customer expectations.
Anticipating needs leaves the customer feeling appreciated and known. To do this effectively, one must understand customer behavior and predict subsequent customer actions. Ultimately, anticipating needs shows that you’re conscientious to your customers and constantly improving your service.
For example, Capital One’s mobile app allows customers to nickname and customize the order of their accounts.
Citibank emails customers to inform them that there’s no need to call about upcoming travel because they’re already aware.
In addition to anticipating customer needs, financial services companies also have a duty to protect customers financially, while helping them achieve their financial goals. The fintech company Transferwise accomplishes this by being transparent about how they calculate exchange rates—by explaining their policies in plain language and providing simple tools for customers to preview exchange rate charges.
How can organizations get the most out of these strategies to fuel digital transformation and accelerate growth?
First, organizations need to have a clear purpose and live that purpose in their entire brand experience from the inside out. They must anchor their customer-centricity internally with a brand promise centered on delivering the best experience to the customer. Brands that live out a consistent story, backed by streamlined systems and engaged employees, deliver the most purpose-driven experience across every touchpoint. This will fuel the transformation necessary to simplify the entire experience—including designing products around users rather than portfolios and speaking to customers in a human voice.
For financial services companies, delivering the best digital customer experience requires investing in technology that improves and streamlines the brand experience. Customers expect a seamless experience across devices, channels and product lines. This requires a strong technological foundation, which, once implemented, is continually improved to deliver a concierge-like experience to the customer.