Monica Hovespian
Monica Hovsepian Feb 20, 2019

Pulling an Uber: Can banks deliver a similar customer experience?

Velcro, Kleenex and Jell-O: Many brands have become so much a part of people’s lives that they are now used as universal references for all products in that category—or sometimes verbs, as is the case with Google.

But can you imagine anyone using Citi or CapitalOne in the same way as “I Googled it” to describe a financial transaction process, such as paying their mortgage? Even the most respected financial services brands have yet to achieve that level of recognition.

One of the latest brands to gain “household verb” status is the ride-sharing service Uber. Its customer experience has helped it reach the point where you simply “Uber” home. Uber totally disrupted the taxi hire business by delivering an excellent omnichannel experience. You can quickly find the nearest driver, know who they are, how quickly they’ll arrive—even the make, model and color of the car so you can spot it driving up.

In its “Reimagining the future of banking” white paper, BAI finds that financial services leaders hope to emulate this type of experience at their companies.

Uber provides a smooth, seamless experience people love. So much so that people who have stopped using the service will still use “Uber” as a verb when they simply rideshare (even in a Lyft). Contrast this with many financial services organizations that struggle to deliver a consistent omnichannel experience–especially when customers want to open accounts online.

In the white paper, BAI president and CEO Debbie Bianucci says: “Banks have made progress with omnichannel, but it’s still a source of pain for many customers … It’s not easy for banks to provide this seamless omnichannel customer experience with all their siloed legacy systems.”

How Netflix made customers the star

Millennials were the most vocal, according to the BAI 2019 Outlook, about inconsistent omnichannel experience–and limited opportunities to open first or new accounts online–from their banks. However, the trend straddles all sectors. In fact, PwC has coined the term “omnidigital” to describe people without a preference who simply select the right channel at that moment.

But the price of getting customer experience wrong is very troubling. According to Forrester, losing a single point on its customer experience index (CX Index) can cost a traditional bank $124 million.

The rewards are equally impressive. A one point gain can make an online bank as much as $30 million. Traditional banks must focus on how their inability to deliver that consistent omnichannel experience drives customers away. The BAI 2019 Outlook finds that two of three new online bank accounts are opened at online-only banks.

Netflix offers another useful customer experience comparison. The streaming service built its business on seamless cross-channel content delivery. Netflix increasingly personalizes its content to the individual tastes of each customer—making them feel valued as they access their content anywhere from any device.

Today’s banking customers demand a similar experience. The BAI 2019 Outlook found that bankers understand this challenge and are turning their investments towards this goal. When asked, bankers placed technology integration and platforms (72 percent) as the top priority, with customer digital experience (59 percent) a close second. These results suggest financial services companies are trying to make customer data available and use it to shape and deliver the experience customers want.

Driven by artificial intelligence, Enterprise Information Management (EIM) software is pivotal to help banks streamline the omnichannel experience by connecting all customer touchpoints with the bank. For example, Customer Experience Management solutions give firms a better way to manage their customer experience by creating personalized, empathetic two-way communications. Banks can treat customers as known individuals regardless of channel, building a healthy, trust-based relationship.

Personal not personalized, trust over tech

The danger in all customer experience talk is that we concentrate on the wrong “t”—because trust, much more than technology, unlocks excellent customer service. When Forrester asked U.S. banking customers which emotions fostered loyalty, the top three were feeling appreciated, confident and valued. The analysts found that 64 percent of customers who feel valued stay with their bank; 78 percent plan to spend more with the bank and 90 percent would recommend their bank to others.

Creating an environment where customers feel valued isn’t about delivering AI-defined personalized offers when they’re online: It’s about understanding them as a person. The bank that pulls all customer data together in a meaningful manner—so that it understands each customer’s place in their financial lifecycle—can best tailor products and services to their needs. And they will succeed.

Banks must be able to deploy data immediately to allow a more informed, intelligent conversation with the customer—whether via the branch, contact center or online.  It’s about the “phygital” experience (physical plus digital): the entire seamless, connected omnichannel that spans everything from branch to mobile app.

Customers seek this type of personal service—and there’s some great news. In its global survey of more than 30,000 banking customers, Accenture found that banks had to move beyond a digital-first approach and redefine their business model to encompass the best of both digital innovation and traditional values. Customers view financial services as more than just a series of transactions. They look to their bank to provide the value-added advice and consultancy they need.

The emphasis must center on delivering a smooth, tailored service. EIM software driven by AI is one way to arm your staff with the information to better serve customers across channels and create trusted relationships.

Overall, the goal is this: boosting your ability to know your customer and make them feel valued. You may not become a verb a-la Uber just yet. But there’s nothing wrong with settling for adjectives such as caring, seamless and successful.

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Monica Hovsepian is the global industry strategist for financial services at OpenText.

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