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3 Ways Banks Can Bridge The Growing Customer Expectation Gap

Bank employee going over options on a tablet with a smiling woman in a green shirt / customer expectations from banks
Understanding what your customers want — and how they want to interact with your bank — takes time and includes learning from past interactions and experiences. [Ippei Naoi / Getty]

As customers now expect more personalized experiences, banks should be agile enough to sense and respond to those changes quickly.

Financial constraints like inflation costs and rising interest rates are hitting many consumers hard. This instability, paired with changing customer expectations from banks, means you must focus more on personalizing your customer service engagements and offering more proactive advice. 

Doing so can help bridge a growing customer expectation gap, while helping your bank run more efficiently.

During the pandemic, for example, many consumers became accustomed to having their financial needs addressed online. This made a full-service and easy-to-use website or online banking app critical as an expectation from banking customers. 

According to a recent Salesforce survey, only 11% of customers agree that their banking institutions anticipate their financial needs, though. Only 16% agreed that vendors are invested in their financial well-being, and 18% agreed that they actually get the assistance they need from a banking agent.

The disconnect in customer service

Find out what executives in banking think about how their organizations deliver customer service.

With the help of Industry Dive, we recently surveyed 153 senior employees across the banking, insurance, and wealth & asset management industries. This data can help you learn more about how leaders are addressing the gap between customer service and customer expectations from banks. 

Here’s what we learned from this survey, examining ways to meet these shifting customer expectations from banks.

1. Serve up more proactive, hands-on insights 

Banking executives said in a recent Salesforce survey that customer inquiries are visible to agents in other internal business areas 79% of the time. Although visibility is important, agents need critical context and actionable insights. These are often too complicated to surface because that data most likely lives in disparate systems. 

Consider the example of a customer making several calls to a contact center regarding their service request. The best-case scenario: a service agent not only sees that a customer called several times but also knows the details of those calls and the outcomes on their main desktop. 

This helps the agent to have an intelligent conversation with the customer by providing next steps or a status update — without digging for that information. 

The key difference is not only using data to enable those intelligent conversations but providing agents with the knowledge they need to see a couple steps ahead, offering proactive advice. Using your data more effectively like this helps you address the changing customer expectations in banking for more personalization and seamless experiences.

2. Talk with customers on their terms 

Service has never been more relevant for organizations. With customer expectations from banks rising, looking through a customer’s lens becomes critical to finding ways to improve that experience. 

Understanding what your customers want — and how they want to interact with your bank — takes time and includes learning from past interactions and experiences. 

For true “end-to-end” customer service, banks must make sure it’s easy for customers to get questions answered. This could mean a self-service function like a chatbot, or equipping agents to give personalized advice over the phone or in the branch. 

To make customer service work best for your customers, take a look at your current processes to see if there are ways to make it more intuitive. Making the most of your data, technology, and AI can help you not only enhance and personalize a customer’s experience but also save costs and achieve efficiency. 

Improving your technology also allows you to take advantage of automation and rules engines that provide personalized service that aligns with the changing customer expectations in banking — even in self-service portals. Providing that added layer of live data and personalization leads to efficient transactions, which is what customers deserve and, in many cases, demand. 

3. Broaden the way you collect customer feedback 

In a 2022 Salesforce survey, 72% of senior financial services executives reported that their customers were mostly or extremely satisfied (according to their own customer satisfaction surveys). But those survey responses may be deceiving, because they’re often largely influenced by a recent interaction.

When we asked customers their opinion, they believed there was some work to do related to customer service and satisfaction.

In most cases, customers answering these surveys respond with a specific interaction in mind that was either very positive or negative. Customers with an indifferent experience are missed many times.   

A customer’s true satisfaction with their bank is based on many interactions, not just one. With the shift in customer expectations from banks, it’s important to make decisions based on a wider range of data. To help you gain a clearer picture, broaden the questions in your customer satisfaction survey to pick up the overall experience. 

Consider adding other metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Effort Score (CES). Also, customer interviews and your own customer usage data can provide beneficial insights. All of this data will allow you to better triangulate where customers want you to improve their experience. 

Listen to customer expectations from banks

The banking world has always revolved around highly-personal aspects of customer lives. From mortgages for first homes to emergency savings funds, most people deal with their banks on a weekly — if not daily — basis. Changing customer expectations in banking require a shift in thinking from banks. 

As you look for ways to make your customer interactions easier and more seamless, banks that have agile technology that allows agents to clearly address a customer’s short-term and long-term needs will have an advantage.

Are you meeting expectations?

Our latest survey pulls back the curtain on what financial services executives think about their customer service offerings.

This article was written in partnership with David Deitch, director at Slalom.

Kelly Horn Senior Director of Solution & Strategy, Banking

Kelly’s extensive business and IT experience in the financial services industry fuels her passion to drive change and innovation for the customer and employee. While her ability to think both strategically and creatively allows her to play a critical role in enterprise-wide planning and roadmap discussions.

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