Oct 02, 2020

Financial Services' CX Wakeup Call


Financial Services Gets a CX Wakeup Call

In May of 2020, Dimensional Research conducted a study entitled Customers are Less Happy than "Companies Think—An international Survey of Business and Customers." The firm interviewed leaders from multiple industries, including financial services, but the chief takeaway from the study across all industries was clear. The quality of customer service that financial service companies believe they’re delivering falls short of the service customers say they’re getting.

We turned the Dimensional Research study into a report: The CX Reality Check—Research, Revelations, and the Route Forward.

The Good, the Bad … and the Way Forward

Many of the surveyed executives felt their human and automated agents worked together seamlessly. But 9 out of 10 surveyed customers disagreed. And while 89 percent of financial services executives believed their automated systems can understand what customers want, only half of customers felt the same.

In fact, customers expressed their frustration with automated service and an overwhelming preference for human voice and chat agents. The failure of these automated customer services is most telling when you consider this—nearly 1 in 3 companies lose customers as a direct result of poor customer support.

The news, however, isn’t all bad. Despite these shortcomings, customer service continues to evolve and improve. Technology is leading the charge, with voice and digital channels beginning to align and automated solutions becoming more pervasive.

Like their counterparts in other industries, financial services executives acknowledge that businesses harnessing the power of AI to deliver a consistent experience across all service channels are the businesses that will thrive. And as more financial services organizations embrace these new innovations, they’re realizing greater success with solutions such as AI, automation, and visual sharing.

3 Key Findings

In the broader picture, the Dimensional Research study determined that financial services businesses, as well as those in every other industry, must find a way to meet rising customer expectations or risk losing those customers. Looking at the study’s results more closely, however, reveals three key findings.

1. Business Perception of Customer Services Isn’t Reality

Much to their own surprise, businesses aren’t delivering the experiences they think they’re delivering. Sixty-five percent of financial services companies, for example, feel their support channels deliver consistent customer experiences. The numbers tell a different story.

Unlike traditional support channels, automated channels fail to solve customer issues in roughly 50 percent of cases. In addition, when switching from one support channel to another, 89 percent of customers said they were asked to repeat information they already provided. Finally, just 54 percent of customers felt that automated systems understood their needs. So, while businesses believe their channels are performing well, customers feel otherwise.

2. Customer Behaviors are Changing—Fast

Customers are embracing technology, and there’s no going back. Businesses have little choice but to keep pace. As we touched on earlier, nearly 1 in 3 businesses have lost customers in the past six months because the support they deliver isn’t cutting it. Meanwhile, 68 percent of customers report that COVID-19 has already changed the way they interact with the businesses. So, change is inevitable, and it’s happening rapidly.

The good news is, 96 percent of businesses said technology has motivated them to rethink their customer support strategies.

3. New Technologies Improve Experiences

New technologies are coming to the rescue, and many businesses are jumping on board. 97 percent of financial services companies expect to implement new technology-enabled customer support capabilities over the next two years, and 81 percent have plans to integrate their voice and digital channels.

As adoption continues, experiences will likely improve. Even customers have faith in that. 93 percent of them, for instance, believe sharing visual information will improve support and product experiences.

Want to Change the Conversation?

So, with all this information at hand, what can a financial services business like yours do to stay ahead of the curve? Here are eight recommendations.

  1. Determine the customer’s intent. By identifying intent, your CX system can direct the query to the agent, automated or human, best able to handle that request.
  2. Meet customers where they prefer. Enable your systems to facilitate conversations with a consistent feel across all channels, including SMS, web, messaging, and the phone.
  3. Help AI and humans collaborate. To make customer interactions efficient and affordable, you need to interweave human agents with conversational AI.
  4. Provide seamless handoffs. Continuity is absolutely essential, so when it’s time to transfer customers from a virtual agent to a human agent, make the handoff effortless and efficient.
  5. Optimize your service costs. Combining AI with human agents resolves issues in the most cost-effective manner. Humans can field the tricky tasks while AI improves productivity.
  6. Tighten your security. It’s imperative that CX solutions incorporate robust security features for authentication and authorization of customer information and transactions.
  7. Define a long-term vision. Think about what you want conversational AI and customer experiences to be like in 3-5 years and find technology that supports that vision.
  8. Ask for expert help. To improve efficiency, seek advice from industry analysts and other objective parties who can help you assess vendors and their CX solutions.
  9. Consider asynchronous messaging. Enabling a single, continuous conversation across all channels advances your services and satisfy your customers.

The Bottom Line

It’s time for all financial services organizations to reassess how well your customer support is actually performing, which could prevent poor service from doing irreparable harm to both your customer relationships and your balance sheet. If the question is how you remain successful in this increasingly competitive marketplace, the answer, without a doubt, is modern support technologies such as AI, automation, and visual sharing.

For all the facts, figures, and findings, download the CX Reality Check.

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