By Chris Sparling, CX Strategy Director, Reputation
Ipsos recently released its 2022 ranking of the best and worst retail banks for customer service. The results highlight the continued competitive nature of the financial services industry, as fintech start-ups attract the customer share of traditional banks across all service areas. So far in 2022 there were over 850,000 banks account switches across the UK – thanks in part to challenger banks like Starling and Monzo offering more customer-focused solutions than traditional banks previously did.
With incumbents having had little competition so far, although the improvement in customer service was significant, progress in this area has been slower due to an approach developed in the pre-digital era. In contrast, delivering the high level of customer service that consumers expect has been built into the challengers’ digital infrastructures by design.
Because of their investment in customer service and the resulting customer experience, challenger banks have higher referral rates, higher share of wallet, and are in a better position to try and sell products and services to their customers. clients. Although their success rate with the latter remains limited – as traditional banks have the advantage of hundreds of years of experience in providing mortgages, wealth management and other services, offering their customers a peace of mind that their challenger counterparts cannot match. At least for now.
Outrun the competition
Over the past few years, statistics have repeatedly branded the financial services sector as the least trustworthy sector in the UK. Data breaches and changing customer needs mean loyalty remains low. Rather than sticking with their financial service providers by choice, customers stayed put because of the inconvenience of transferring mortgages and other similar services. By providing top-notch customer service, banks and other financial service providers can greatly improve customer retention.
While consumer perception is critical to success, changes in the way people interact with banks and the financial services industry, and the technology available to do so, have changed the landscape, with the rise of reviews in line giving customers the evidence and encouragement needed to change suppliers.
Banks and financial services are also using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate responses to frequently asked queries while relying on human customer service agents to handle more complex questions. And even then, today’s artificial intelligence capabilities can help call operators by providing call scripts and prompts to help interpret a caller’s emotional state and provide a response. appropriate to the situation.
Visibility and learning from customer reviews and surveys
Reputation management in finance increasingly relies on customer reviews rather than simple word of mouth. But it’s also important for banks, especially traditional banks, not to overlook their presence on Google My Business listings – the most important factor in improving visibility.
Despite the increase in the number of traditional banks closing their physical stores, there are still instances where in-person interactions are required. The first step to improving your local rankings is to make sure your information is up-to-date, which makes it easier for customers to find you. Business listings with a high volume of timely reviews, especially if those reviews are positive, enjoy higher visibility on Google. By showing that you value customer feedback, the likelihood of others using your service increases.
Facebook, with its monthly active users climbing to 2.8 billion, is becoming a powerhouse on this front and has gradually created more tools to help businesses increase their visibility and ability to respond to reviews.
We often hear about banks getting into trouble because they didn’t react quickly to looming trouble. Thus, to stay abreast of current and upcoming trends, social media monitoring should be a crucial practice for any bank’s strategy.
All businesses, including those operating outside the financial services industry, would benefit from a broad listening strategy when it comes to gathering feedback. Leveraging social media listening tools to monitor and identify trends, track customer sentiment, and mitigate potential crises ultimately improves customer service and instills trust. Here, having an effectively managed online review program ultimately leads to increased customer trust.
As part of this, encouraging customers to rate your branches and respond to surveys is essential, because a great customer experience starts with listening to feedback. In turn, responding to those comments also shows that you care about what your customers have to say, which makes your brand more human.
More recently, the proposed expansion of UK banking centers highlights an example of the kind of action that taking customer feedback on board can drive. Many large banks have reduced their branch networks as customers shifted from traditional teller services to online services and mobile banking. As the impact of the cost of living crisis becomes more apparent, hubs are being set up to ensure the right services are provided in the right places, especially in communities with limited access to cash and banking services . At these centres, customers of any bank with physical branches can access their accounts, deposit cash and checks and withdraw money at any time – with representatives from major banks on site once a week to deal with more delicate requests.
With most people relying on the internet to find out where to save and invest their capital, tracking reviews, collecting feedback, and analyzing data to understand customer experience and uncover patterns is more important than ever. Here, banks need to consider a healthy mix of responses across different sites and departments. This information is key to gaining insights that allow different branches and teams to learn from each other and make improvements.
Extend the customer experience in the digital world
Digital transformation, accelerated by the pandemic, has made the adoption of digital channels and touchpoints even more imperative. Now, delivering a digital-first experience is an expectation for all users, regardless of generation, and banks, especially traditional banks, are striving to be more responsive online. The more customer feedback data you collect, the more you can increase your review volume to improve your ratings.
By using the tools available to bring public and private feedback together in one place, it’s easier to gain actionable insights into the full view of your customer experience, showing where there is room for improvement. Staying flexible and constantly looking for ways to improve current and new technologies is a key part of giving the customer what they need and staying competitive.
With new trends and regulatory measures continually emerging within the financial services industry, ensuring the delivery of the best customer experience possible is important to maintaining customer loyalty. By listening to customers, being responsive and making smart investments in technology, banks can ensure exceptional customer service, which helps retain and attract customers.
Reputation management is not an area where banks and financial services companies can afford to be complacent. And it will be those who embrace the tools and use the available knowledge that will separate the leaders from the laggards.