Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Customer Experience: The Last True Differentiator

January 16, 2015
By ContactCenterSolutionsWorld Special Guest
Chris Randall, Vice President, Client Services, ResponseTek -

In Ernst & Young’s Global Consumer Banking Survey 2014, customers chose “the way I am treated” as the second most important reason for trusting their banking provider, just behind the understandably important “financial stability” of their bank. Customer experience was also cited as the most common reason for opening and closing accounts, more important than fees, rates, locations or convenience. Approximately 40 percent of customers planned to open or close an account in 2014. This means banks are all competing for that group’s affection.

This data once again proves that customer experience (CX) is, unequivocally, a bank’s greatest customer acquisition and retention tool. The emphasis on CX even influenced the U.K. Payments Council, leading to the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) campaign in the U.K.

Regarding the CASS campaign, the U.K. Payments Council implemented new rules to increase competition between banks, support the entry of new banks and give customers a broader range of options in the financial sector. One of the biggest changes they applied was the reduction of the wait time for customers who switched banks. Instead of waiting an inconvenient 30 days for the switching process to complete, they now could move from one bank to another in a hassle-free seven days. This new standard not only increased the efficiency that services companies set for themselves, but it forced institutions to review the way they treated both new and existing customers.

The CASS campaign has been a resounding success. Seventy percent of the public are now aware of the new service, and 61 percent of the public are confident about how the new service works. What’s more, there have been over 1.1 million customer switches (a 19 percent increase compared with the same time period one year before).

The results of this campaign show the customer experience is now king. Customers have come to expect a greater level of service, and will gladly go elsewhere for the chance to receive better treatment. Maintaining customer loyalty must be of paramount importance to financial institutions. The Ernst & Young survey pointed out that, in an era of social sharing, “customers who trust their bank will drive the most referrals and be more willing to consolidate their banking needs with a single financial services provider. This makes them the growth engines of any bank.”

With these facts in mind, how can you make the most of your customer experience strategy? If you’re a high-performing financial services company, you’ve probably already started to act on this knowledge. You are outperforming your competition by having a fully integrated digital/physical strategy to aid your customer experience programs. If you’re not, then you are part of the larger percentage who is struggling to apply these customer-focused practices to your business.

The key is to become a proactive partner in your customers’ experience, rather than merely responding reactively. That is, don’t wait for your customers to ring alarm bells before you decide to give them the services they want. Understand their customer journey and how they interact with your brand. Find out what they want before they start complaining on social network sites about your company. Most importantly, realize that your goal is to keep your customers loyal, not to only win new customers.

Financial returns are the final evidence of the value of customer experience – the language that financial institutions understand. In The 2014 Customer Experience ROI Study, Watermark Consulting reviewed seven years of stock market returns for companies that lead in customer experience versus those that lag. They found that CX leaders outperformed the broader market, generating a total return 26 points higher than the S&P 500 Index. In sharp contrast, CX laggards actually posted a negative return during a period when the broader market rose sharply.

Customer service is the last great differentiator among financial institutions, and it’s a business truth that it costs less to retain a customer than to acquire a new one – even if you have to invest initially in a system that ensures the best execution of your CX strategy. Watermark’s study clearly proves this. The sooner you can implement a CEM program across all customer touch points; the sooner you will begin to enjoy the benefits of happy, loyal customers who not only stay with you but become brand ambassadors, adding to your success.

Edited by Maurice Nagle