3 key considerations for financial services, simplicity, sincerity & trust

Gary Howes

June 27, 2017

Following on from the latest Financial Services conference in London, Maru/edr’s finance experts take a look at the key trends currently dominating the industry.

While the financial sector is currently performing well for customer experience – with 58 percent of the list of the UK top 100 made up by banks and mutuals – the Big 4 are noticeably absent. This is significant, given that these brands are responsible for three-quarters of all current accounts. As such, it is evident that the majority of UK customers currently have a sub-optimal experience with their bank.

2017 has been an outstanding year for Financial Services and customer experience. With open banking and other new technologies emerging, there has never been a more exciting time in FS with transformation so firmly on the horizon for so many brands.

At the top of the year, we outlined our 3 key considerations for financial services, simplicity, sincerity & trust. These themes were prominent at the event and there were a number of interesting focuses throughout the day:

We are all being judged against hero brands

The digital revolution is showing no signs of slowing down, access to digital devices has increased hugely and penetration is now very high – 4 in 5 UK adults now own a smartphone (Deloitte, 2016, There’s No Place like Phone). Online retail now accounts for c.15% of total sales – which is a 19% YoY increase in weekly sales (ONS) proving that digital is still moving forward at a marked pace.

At the event, we were lucky enough to take the stage with our client Barclaycard to discuss how to deliver best in class digital customer experiences. A key challenge we all face is that technology and innovation cross-sectors are driving higher customer expectations – no longer are financial services brands judged directly against their competition – everyone is judged against hero brands who offer outstanding digital experiences.

Amazon, Paypal, Apple, Argos and eBay are driving huge innovation in the digital space enabling customers to explore, buy and consume products and experiences like never before – customers expect us as financial services brands to be able to offer the same exceptional experiences – quick, easy, simple and hassle free and they are fast to comment when these expectations are not met.

New technology is transforming the day to day

There is no escaping it – technology is fundamentally changing the way that consumers interact with their financial services provider. The Way We Bank Now report states that the average in branch visit has declined by as much as 32% since 2011 and that over 11 million customers log into their banking app on a daily basis, a 50% rise from 2014.

The arrival of fin tech and new entrants into the market are further adding to the adoption of new technology but also to the expectations that customers have around what should be possible and what products, services and experiences their FS providers can give them. Customers expect to be able to access and action financial information and transactions whenever and wherever they want and technology is the key driver behind this.

The application of these new technologies is already having an impact, the launch of Monzo is changing the way customers think and feel about their banking experience – a true customer centric tool that is focused on solving customer challenges and providing a service that works around customer needs has been very well received amongst their 150,000 customers. Traditional brands are also adopting new technology to change their experiences, Lloyd’s Banking Group have famously launched their “selfie technology” to enable customers to seamlessly open accounts online – there will be more of this to come in 2017 and beyond.

Culture is an ever present opportunity

The biggest challenge we heard on the day was how to drive change, boost internal collaboration and promote customer centricity as a central part of organisational DNA. Being able to listen to customers, interpret their feedback and provide quality insight is only the first part of the journey – what you then do with those insights – the changes that you drive and the impact we have on our businesses is how we will be successful as customer experience professionals.

But this isn’t as simple as challenging practices with good looking data – you must engage key stakeholders in the right way to encourage a culture of continuous customer focused improvement if customer centricity is to be realised. That can take the form of many things – customer champion initiatives, centralised centricity workstreams and share and learn workshops with management level employees.

The C-suite are waking up the benefits and opportunities that a customer-centric business model presents – we’re seeing a huge adoption of these strategies at board level – but engaging your customer middle management and customer facing operations is an ongoing challenge – one that we are all facing.

Take Action

According to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review and sponsored by Sprinklr, 86% of business leaders agree that customer experience is vital for success, and 75% believe social media will be an “extremely important” bulwark of successful customer experiences in the future. But at the same time, only 34% agree they have the necessary tools and skills to deliver superior experiences to customers.