Previously, I discussed why financial services firms should focus on digital transformation. This blog will analyze the aspects of the customer experience.
The customer experience (CX) is not the same as customer service. Customer service is just one aspect of CX. It refers to the component that provides direct interaction with the customer in the handling of inquiries, transactions, or problem resolution.
CX in the broader context is the interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. It encompasses all points of customer and company contact. This includes mobile website apps, social media, in-person, text, phone, product acquisition, and service, marketing, and support. Customer experience truly begins long before a customer relationship is established. A company’s brand is defined by the experience provided and is a factor in attracting prospective customers.
In this digital age, customers expect to conduct business 24/7 through any platform of their choosing. They want the full product and service information, the ability to initiate and cancel transactions, and comprehensive support, all without delay. Platforms must be seamlessly interconnected, so information entered on one channel can immediately be accessed on others. Further, the platforms must all provide as consistent an interface possible, limited only by the technology and the devices used. The information must be provided in real-time. Order information, tracking, or resolution status from the prior day is no longer acceptable.
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Providing an optimal experience means not having customers wait to address their questions or issues. Contact centers must be re-engineered so customers can engage through voice, text, email. Even social media platforms, with consistency and continuity throughout.
Providing Optimal Customer Experience
Providing optimal customer experience (CX) is perhaps most complex in the financial services industry. Given the financial sophistication of the customer base, coupled with the range of products and services, each with its own intricacies, information requirements, and risk profiles, makes the challenge that much more complicated.
Bringing the CX to a customer level in financial services necessitates a deep understanding. There needs to be an understanding of a client’s holdings/balance sheet, risk profile, and personal situation. The personal situation can include income, tax situation, age/years to retirement, marital status/spousal portfolio, and children’s educational situation. Not only is it crucial to provide current information regarding products and services, clients expect personalized guidance as to alternate investment options targeting those most appropriate and likely to meet their financial objectives. These “next best actions” must also consider market conditions, interest rates, tax code changes, and portfolio theory.
There are firms already utilizing AI and predictive analytics to determine the ideal asset class allocations at a client-specific level. These heuristic engines strive to minimize a variety of risk factors while maximizing returns. Although not a guarantee of future performance, they provide back-testing of a recommended portfolio allocation as a means of supporting AI decisions and serve as a predictor, given a slate of market constraints.
In building lifetime relationships through a superior CX, a firm positions itself to retain customers through their changing needs or a firm’s own repositioning, as it enters new market segments or as the industry evolves. The firm’s brand, as defined by its CX, will transcend any specific product or service.
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