What happens when you deliver poor customer experiences and get complaints? You might ignore your customers — or worse, blame them — and lose them for life. Or you might fix their problems and earn their loyalty. What you and your employees will do depends on your customer culture. In a global survey by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, 56 percent of companies described themselves as customer centric. Only 12 percent of their customers agreed.
The financial services industry continues to face a number of challenges when it comes to the development of improved customer experience and services. Gone are the days of the ‘bank/insurance company/credit card/investment firm for life’; switching providers can be completed at the click of a button, as consumers Google their way to a better deal.
Financial institutions have traditionally been “product driven” environments – selling both the existing and new product lines has remained at the heart of their offering to the public. However, it is much harder to differentiate on rates and products these days; instead, service now holds the key to standing out in a crowded marketplace. As such, financial institutions have to think carefully about the customer experience in a way they have never had to before.
The initial solutions have been focused on building out and improving the IT infrastructure – but financial institutions are having a number of issues with that route with well-publicised blow-ups that have had far-reaching implications including government scrutiny.
Some of the additional problems are self-inflicted due to missteps and news reports of suspicious industry activities; employees who are not prepared, trained or authorised to provide what would be considered flexible solutions to specific customer difficulties; some of the problems have developed due to the lag in the development of business & customer strategy processes; and emerging technologies can allow for better customer-centric strategies are not implemented fast enough (if at all.)
Some of the challenges for financial institutions are how to:
- Create simple structures to frame complex advice
- Use digital services to optimise information delivery
- Integrate multiple streams of information in ways that signal to users where to look
- Create collaborative environments online
In truly customer-centric companies, all individuals (regardless of their roles) base their decisions and actions on the belief that what’s best for the customer is best for the business. New evidence shows how a strong customer culture drives future business performance and supports market strategies.
New research, based on a recent quantitative study across more than 150 businesses, spanning various industries and functions, identifies seven cultural factors that drive customer satisfaction, revenue and profit growth, innovation, and new product success.
These are important predictors of future results and early indicators of risks and opportunities related to retaining customers and acquiring new ones. This research on highly customer-centric businesses like Amazon, Virgin and salesforce.com tell us that these factors are disciplines that, if practised and embedded, create superior value for customers and sustainable growth in value for stockholders. They can be measured and benchmarked for any organization:
If you take the example of the clambering for the need of social media within the context of the relationship between financial services institutions and their customers and the basic structures that seem to be missing:
Younger people (aged 18-24) in particular, want businesses to engage with them over social channels, with 41 percent indicating they want companies to provide customer support via social media. In addition, 39 percent reported that they would like companies to listen and respond through social channels.
This is just one example of many on how financial services companies must evolve to meet the changing needs of their customers.