2018: Year of the Customer Experience Officer for Retail Banks

2017 saw the Bank of England raise interest rates for the first time in a decade. Granted it was only by 0.25 percent but at a time when the average person is feeling the squeeze on living standards, 0.25 can be all it takes to make consumers switch banks.

With 2018 set to be another year of financial uncertainty, retail banks need to start taking bold action to win and/or retain customers now. Executives need to move past incremental approaches and make sweeping changes in order to be at the head of the more customer-led, disruptive market.

With research showing that customer experience (CX) leaders can increase revenue at a faster rate than CX laggards, drive higher brand preference and can charge more for their products – it’s more important than ever for banks to strategically invest in this area.

For those who don’t already have one in place, 2018 must be the year of the Customer Experience Officer (CXO) and his or her role should be to:

Be the voice of the customer – The CXO’s core purpose is to ensure that each and every move starts with the customer in mind, particularly strategic business decisions. A customer-centric business strategy is the foundation for success. Research from Deloitte and Touche shows that businesses following this model are up to 60 percent more profitable, so ensuring there is a single individual with this baked into their role is vital. And for them to be the voice of the customer, they have to be listening to the customer; across all channels. From this, they not only respond to their needs but also anticipate needs they are themselves unaware of.

Ensure a consistent customer journey – Consistency is the secret ingredient to meeting and exceeding customer expectations to drive profit levels. It sustains consumers’ attention, which is incredibly powerful at a time when choice and empowerment is increasing. As such, the CXO should be working with leaders across the bank to build a consistent customer journey, rather than focusing on individual interactions. This journey should include everything from buying a product to actually using it, having issues with a product that require resolution, or simply making the decision to use a service or product for the first time. According to figures from McKinsey, maximising satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent but also to lift revenue by up to 15 percent while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20 percent. Figures like this aren’t to be sniffed at.

Use data-driven insights to inform strategic business decisions – It goes without saying that decisions around the customer journey and experience in today’s digitally driven environment must be data-driven. Customer experience leaders must be data-savvy to make this happen. Their ability to use both active and passive data to better gauge the customer and their journey is imperative to creating the optimal experience and improving journey mapping. Data-driven CX decisions allow organisations to get more personal. They also highlight what’s working, and what’s not, help banks to respond faster; as well as map their own forward-facing journey. For organisations to succeed in today’s market, they must embrace data and follow where it leads them.

Strike the right balance with automation – Evolving technologies like AI and chatbots are certain to become a core component of the customer experience. However, it is up to the customer experience officer to determine where best to use them in the customer journey as a digital by default approach will not work. According to research Verint conducted across 24,000 global consumers for ‘The Digital Tipping Point’, human contact is still critical. More specifically, consumers say their channel of choice, whether digital or traditional, is determined by the complexity of their requests. The CXO should speak to customers directly, while working closely with customer service and digital marketing teams to calculate which channels they should push where.

Unleash the back-office to improve efficiency – A good CXO will understand the role that a well-functioning, predicable back office can play in delivering an efficient and cost-effective seamless customer experience. Ensuring that information and data required by the front office, is delivered properly by the back office is key. To optimise coordination between the two, CXOs pushing for an agile operation are opting to implement a back-office work optimisation solution. It’s then used to connect processes and tasks end-to-end to create and manage customer journeys and positive outcomes. The immediate benefits of which are two-fold: front and back office teams can proactively collaborate to improve the speed and accuracy of customer service whilst the organisation benefits from increased productivity and performance, and a reduction in backlogs and complaint potential. Santander has already been successfully using this kind of back office solution to achieve these benefits.

A winning bank not only understands that the customer experience is the basis for how it competes and wins the market, but ensures that it invests in the best talent to lead the charge. For whoever is given this role to really succeed, it is no longer enough to just build positive experiences. They have to add strategic value by acting as the voice of the customer, creating consistent customer journeys, using data-driven insights, striking the right balance with automation and unleashing the back-office.  And with the year ahead promising to be as competitive as the last, now is the time for banks to ensure they are doing so.

Nick Nonini, Managing Director EMEA at Verint Systems and eg Solutions

Author: Dylan Jones

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