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Why It’s Time To Redefine Customer Experience in Financial Services

Why It’s Time To Redefine Customer Experience in Financial Services

The financial services industry needs to get more personal with customers in order to excel in the new normal. Here’s why.

Over the past 18 months, financial services organisations have experienced massive change on all fronts. Many have responded with great grit and innovation, while some are still calibrating to the new normal. Whatever the case might be, there’s now a clear path to a new kind of success: the customer-centric model. 

What do I mean by customer-centric model? In simple terms, it’s a matter of stopping at nothing to understand the individual customer and their needs like never before. Companies are discovering that seamless, personalised, and omni-channel customer experiences yield great outcomes. 

Salesforce’s Trends in Financial Services report supports this shift in focus, while highlighting the need for companies to catch up. Our research found that 68% of customers say recent challenges have elevated their expectations for digital-first solutions. Yet, only 27% feel the financial services industry is customer-centric. 

In other words, a gap exists between company offerings and customer needs. The good news is that there are provable ways and means to close it.

Defining evolving customer needs

I often make a joke that contains a nugget of truth. I say that pre-pandemic, I flew 250,000 miles per year. Since the pandemic began, I’ve had 250,000 Zoom meetings. 

Whether or not the figure is an exaggeration (and I’m not sure it is), it speaks to the changing face of all industries. People now expect that most, if not all of what occured face-to-face, is now possible from the comfort of their own homes. Regardless of when everything reopens, this expectation is here to stay. 

The financial services industry is no exception. Where there was once a defined line between what transactions happen in a bank or insurance branch and what happens online, we’re now seeing a blended model. Institutions with their fingers on the pulse are migrating all in-person activities to the digital space. 

This is changing the dynamics of how we engage with the financial world. Customers now expect easy, end-to-end processes that allow them to open an account, apply for a loan, or secure a mortgage without having to leave their desks.

Hyper-personalisation: so much more than a buzzword

While it’s human nature to want quick and hassle-free experiences, we also need those experiences to feel personal. Customers now expect companies to understand them and their unique desires and goals, even when face-to-face interaction is at a minimum. Enter hyper-personalisation. 

Companies that are experiencing significant growth have one thing in common. They are not only able to address any question, query, or concern with immediacy, but are also able to predict what a customer needs and when. 

Hyper-personalisation is an extension of customer centricity. It’s a means of leveraging technology and integrating data to get a 360-degree view of an individual customer, and making the most of every interaction to enrich that view. 

Companies can do all of the above without ever forgetting that in-person interactions can complement digital experiences.

Share of mind, time, and trust

If we are to put the toughness of recent years to the side for a moment, now’s a very exciting time to be alive. The customer-centric model, coupled with the powerful platforms that enable it, offers a clarity of purpose, and —perhaps ironically— level of intimacy that industry has never before experienced. 

Financial services companies that successfully place the customer at the centre of everything now own a disproportionate share of mind, time, and trust. What I mean by that is when a company meets customer needs through seamless, personalised, and omni-channel experiences, customers feel like their time and efforts are respected.  

Achieving customer-centricity takes commitment and effort. But once it is achieved, growth increases exponentially alongside customer satisfaction. The more we open the conversation and bridge the gap between company and customer, the more both parties are rewarded.

How to achieve customer centricity

It’s no coincidence that higher levels of customer centricity are reached through organisational unification. The more a company is able to streamline and integrate data and processes, the more they are able to get a clear view of the individual customer. 

That is why Salesforce’s Customer 360 and its CRM for financial services exist: to satisfy the unmet needs of both business and consumer.  

For a business, a CRM unifies all teams so that they are seeing through the same lens. The customer benefits from being seen from one shared view. The relationship between the two is now bound by a single source of truth. 

For the financial services industry, this unification is imperative. After working in banking for 25 years, I know that most companies are dealing with oceans of customer data siloed off in different formats. When integrating Customer 360 with Financial Services Cloud, not only can a company bring all that customer data together, but they can gain insights that make it actionable. 

For the business, this means radical spikes in efficiency and precision, as well as a direct line to increased customer loyalty and revenue growth.

Inspiring case study: Union Bank of the Philippines

Before lockdown, Union Bank of the Philippines had made the decision to make customer care its number one priority. They engaged Salesforce and set up a command centre that facilitated immediate and seamless omni-channel service for customers

Thanks to the scalability and reliability of Service Cloud, they were able to satisfy the large uptick in customer interactions during the first lockdown (tens of thousands in March 2021 alone), while offering new end-to-end services such as account activation. Such a feat would have been deemed unthinkable only 18 months previously. 

Companies like UnionBank realised that the pandemic challenged the old ways of working, and the only way forward was to keep customer experience at the centre of every decision. 

Financial wellness in the new normal requires ecosystems that engage the customer and their evolving needs in an instant, and it’s an inspiring evolution.

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