The pandemic has undoubtedly resulted in untold changes during 2020, while also prompting growth in areas such as telemedicine, eCommerce, and the liberal use of the word unprecedented. But even pre-COVID, consumers in the financial services industry had fundamentally changed their demands and expectations. They wanted personal experiences delivered at the right moment, that tied together their behaviours across every channel.
That made customer experience the number one priority for banks, insurance agencies, and investment firms. Marketers shifted their focus to managing customer data and journeys, targeting segments, and personalising services. Their primary concern was the inability to respond rapidly enough to market demands.
The pandemic intensified the need for financial services brands to be present in the moments that mattered to customers. Being advanced in customer experience became vital. Long-term strategic initiatives transformed immediately into short-term tactical solutions requiring digital offerings, deeper customer insights, and organisational changes.
Now, it’s critical to ensure that customers who adopted new behaviours – for example, using mobile to deposit checks or manage investments – don’t revert to previous practices. Financial services firms need to take their learnings about digital adoption and transformation, and use them to shape the future of financial services.
Here are six steps to get started.
1. Better understand your customer
The way customers interact with you has changed forever, shifting from the physical world to the digital. You need to understand their new behaviours and be able to act on them in real time. Customers may use websites, apps, call centres, and even branches. Collect data across all of them.
With a detailed and up-to-the minute customer profile, you can offer content, products, and services that are truly helpful. For example, a customer looking for a mortgage may interact with paid media, websites, mobile apps, and ATMs. You need to be aware of all their behaviour to predict and provide exactly what they need at each step.
2. Encourage customers to keep using digital channels
Over the past few months, many customers have been forced to switch offline behaviours for digital capabilities. Even customers who interacted with your firm only through branches, call centres, and paper letters now have a digital footprint you can map to past behaviours, both physical and digital. You don’t want your customers going back to old, cumbersome, and expensive physical channels. To encourage them to conduct activities online going forward, you need to target them both there and offline in a way that’s personal and persistent, but also sensitive and empathetic.
Customers who fail to convert can also provide valuable information to fine-tune your target segment and analyse the non-responders. With that information, you can more successfully promote digital services and save processing time for your customers and your business.
3. Adapt communications to customer behaviour
Many financial services firms pulled acquisition activity when the pandemic hit. Acquiring customers and selling products and services didn’t align with their aim to demonstrate sympathy and empathy in such troubling times. To strike the right tone, you need data to create a cross-channel, unified customer view. For now, it’s not as critical to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time. Rather, you want to ensure you don’t serve the wrong message to the wrong person at the wrong time.
For instance, you want to notice if a customer is no longer depositing a check every second week, suggesting that she’s lost her job or been furloughed. That’s not the time to send word of an unbelievably great rate on savings accounts. With a 360-degree view, you can get personalisation right. More importantly, you’re less likely to mishandle communications, offend customers, and lose them.
4. Reduce potential customer churn
Some customers may have had a bad experience with your firm and be looking to leave. You can use cross-channel data to identify them – along with churn triggers – to feed propensity models that also include long-term customer value. To support the customer and prevent them leaving, proactive communications targeted to these customers in the right way can highlight new features, capabilities, and offerings, from market insights to investing tools to managed portfolios. For example, this might be a timely email talking about new services or features that would improve their experience.
5. Reintroduce branches and prioritise key customers
As branches reopen, you may want to reserve physical channels for those who need them most. Here’s a three-part approach:
Identify pain points: Pinpoint “breaks” in the digital experience that drive people to physical channels. Then prioritise where to improve the customer journey. For example, one UK high street bank is looking at breaks in the journey for customers who go online but end up calling the call centre within 30 minutes, indicating they were trying to self-serve but could not.
Proactively respond: Keep people in digital channels by engaging them with chatbots and AI-driven tools.
Merge online and offline: Use the unified customer view in the call centre to enhance conversations and resolve issues quickly, expediting calls.
Taking this approach will free up physical channels for those who truly need them.
6. Move physical solutions toward digital at scale.
To maintain and grow digital services, you need capabilities like digital forms, AI chatbots, and advanced mobile features. For example, TSB recently released 18 forms online and processed over 80,000 online interactions using Adobe Sign. That could have required as many as 15,000 in-branch visits. Customers are also using mobile to manage savings, track credit card usage, and handle larger accounts like mortgages and investments. Given the changing consumer behaviour and challenges serving customers in branch, investing in these new digital capabilities has never been more important.
Still, humans crave connection. Remote engagement via video can substitute when people can’t meet face to face. In the UK, banks like Natwest, Barclays, and HSBC are all using “video banking” more prominently today. Scaling this one-to-one support requires a combination of multichannel tools, including appointment booking, video, and electronic forms and signatures. But video chats also eliminate the need to expand to more expensive physical locations. Customers find engaging remotely convenient and effective, and employees appreciate the safer environment.
Invest now to shape the future
We’re never going back. But meeting the demands of moving forward gives financial services firms an unparalleled opportunity to use the gains in recent months and build on them to make a leap forward. If you haven’t yet, start your digital transformation. If you have, accelerate your capabilities.
Adobe can help with seamless, personalised, digital customer experiences throughout the financial services industry.