Larry Augustin, SugarCRM CEO: Meet Customer Expectations in Today’s Digital Age

In the not too distant past, delivering a positive customer experience in the financial industry saw you invite your customer into the office and, if the situation called for it serve them a hearty cup of tea to show how much you appreciate them. Customers would then leave fully satisfied and safe in the knowledge you have their best interests at heart.

Today, the digital revolution has made life increasingly complex for banks, credit unions and other financial services businesses. A report by Frost & Sullivan found that almost half of financial services customers use three or more channels in a year. Whether it’s websites, mobile apps, email, social media or in-person encounters, customers now have multiple channels available to them. Each one brings a further expectation from the customer to assume that the same level of service and experience will be provided through each.

Simply, the days of a one dimensional customer approach are gone. Financial businesses now need to be able to deliver experiences that feel personal, unified and memorable if they are to stand out from the crowd. A point reinforced by Gartner research, which found 89% of companies think they now compete solely on customer experience. This gives the financial companies a double challenge: growing their customer base in the first place, and then finding the correct solutions to meet the needs of their current customers who are more empowered, educated and connected than ever before.

Meeting customer expectations in any industry is a key business principal but in the global banking sector, an industry notorious for low levels of loyalty – it carries even more importance. When this is coupled with the fact that in the new digital world infidelity is rife, as digital capabilities have reduced the amount of barriers and required effort for customers to switch, so they switch – its importance grows further.

So what can companies do to prevent the fickle behaviour of their customers? How can they deliver a personalised customer experience across channels and devices? What is the modern equivalent of a hearty cup of tea that inspires loyalty and customer retention?

Map the customer journey

One method is to align your internal business operations with the typical lifecycle of your customers. This can be done through what is called a “customer journey exercise.” By mapping the customer journey, any organisation can identify how a customer typically goes about making a purchase decision with the company. And, these exercises can help identify internal gaps where the organisation is not meeting the expectations of the customer. When complete, your customer journey map becomes a crucial document that should rest at the centre of your business, capturing best practice and sharing it with all of your employees.

Be responsive

Customers expect consistent, helpful and personalised communication from the companies they choose to do business with and, if they don’t get it, they are prepared to take their business elsewhere. A culture of immediacy has developed. Businesses are under increased scrutiny and pressure to adapt in order to meet the demands of a marketplace that is increasingly centred around technology, mobility and social media. Businesses that ignore the needs of the modern consumer will lose customers and the bottom line suffers.

Be social

In today’s social media age, the dynamic has shifted and businesses need to do a lot of work on the back end to ensure they really know and understand their customers. Customer Relationship Management technology is helping businesses keep up with these developments. By capturing information across multiple channels and platforms, customer-service teams can have all the information they need at their fingertips to build a complete picture about the situation surrounding the complaint. When it comes to customer service, access to information is a life saver. Important details like what the customer has bought from you previously and what posts they have liked on your Facebook page empower customer-service teams to respond and handle complaints effectively and efficiently.

Be Human

Ultimately, people still want to talk to people. We just need human interaction that’s relevant. Connecting the digital and human touchpoints is what’s important, as well as giving customer service/sales reps context on what digital interaction customers have already had with your brand. Today, meeting customer expectations requires total commitment and focus from businesses. Implementing the points mentioned will increase a business’s agility to anticipate a customer’s needs and, their ability to offer an engaging inclusive customer experience across all platforms. This, the holy grail of customer service, will put businesses in a position to be richly rewarded by its satisfied customers.

Author: Dylan Jones

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