Read the vital signs: What the healthcare industry can teach banks about customer service

Think about the best doctor you’ve ever had. What set them apart?

Did they greet you like an old friend? Did they have your full history of records ready for reference? Did they make you feel heard and help you spot potential issues before they turned into real problems?

Taking a page from the physician’s playbook can provide some helpful lessons that you can use to enhance customer service, and ultimately fuel growth by keeping your customers coming back, visit after visit. Here are a few concepts to ponder:

1: Don’t ditch your data

In banking as in healthcare, data is critical. That’s why primary care physicians rely on diagnostic tools—especially a patient’s annual blood test—to provide effective care and deliver value. 

Banks have their own version, a “banking blood test”: the credit report. Though it’s easy to overlook, a credit report represents a wealth of customer information to augment the data that already exists in the core. Typically, banks use a credit report to approve a new product for a customer, then file it away to gather dust with the processed application. That’s a missed opportunity. Think of it instead as a diagnostic aid for your customer’s financial health, illuminating areas where a customer is exposed and where the bank can “prescribe” products to improve the customer’s financial health.

Beyond diagnostics, the credit report also reveals other interesting nuggets — such as a recently opened auto loan indicating a new car — that can be used to personalize conversations and deepen relationships.

For banks, better utilizing the insights within credit reports can pose a puzzling challenge. As third-party data, these reports are not often integrated with the other customer information, data sources, or insights at the bank, making it a difficult task for either software or humans to link problems with solutions. With a comprehensive CRM platform engineered specifically for financial services, institutions can centralize information — regardless of origin — from across all sources and systems, enabling any team member to use the insights gained from the banking blood test to help a customer get out of debt faster or refinance a mortgage.

2: Provide seamless service

Just as a one-time blood test represents only one small part of an ongoing doctor-patient relationship, a meaningful banking relationship must go beyond the occasional check-ins and address a customer’s overall financial health, seeking to more deeply understand the holistic picture of a person’s needs and wants.

Let’s think again about an analogous situation in the doctor’s office: Physicians are constantly gaining additional patient information over time by asking questions and conducting more assessments on subsequent visits. The patient sees a seamless experience — their growing cache of health information stays in an electronic medical record (EMR) that any of their healthcare providers with the proper permissions can access. That seamless experience extends to the in-person relationship — your doctor knows your name and history and picks up the conversation where it left off, no matter how many patients he or she saw that day before sitting down with you. Leveraging technology in this manner not only paves the way for frictionless doctor-patient interactions, but it also enables a physician to grow his or her practice without compromising care. 

Unlike in medicine, information on bank customers is not typically centralized. So how can bank employees better serve them, with the same level of personalized care? That’s where effective relationship management becomes vital. 

The financial equivalent of an EMR system may well be the customer relationship management (CRM) platform. An effective CRM, complete with automation functionality, enables any bank team member to “know” any customer at a glance and see a current and holistic view of that customer’s financial health — empowering that employee to diagnose and treat that customer with the best service possible.

With this “view-and-do” capability, banks expedite and enhance customer interactions without compromising quality, enabling team members to support more customers in a given day. Imagine what you could achieve if you could increase the customer-to-employee ratio without having to add additional staff.

3: Shift from “sickcare” to healthcare

According to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Health Care Outlook, the healthcare industry is making a deliberate shift from “sick” care to “health” care, supported by a focus on well-being, prevention and early intervention. The banking industry has a prime opportunity to follow suit — and many institutions are already well on their way, pairing data with human insights to turn employees into financial wellness coaches. 

A CRM with automation capabilities buoys banks’ abilities to proactively help all customers with their financial health. With all customer info aggregated, accessible and actionable from one place, these systems give bank team members the ability to know the financial well-being of each customer. Data-science-based insights could suggest customized product recommendations that may help customers avoid financial pitfalls in the future. And by gathering info from the “banking blood test,” institutions can spot issues early on and intervene on a customer’s behalf, bringing an item to his or her attention. For example, if the CRM flags that an interest rate on a credit card spiked because of information pulled from the credit report, the bank could offer to transfer the customer’s balance to a lower-interest personal line of credit.

Bring it all together

Though healthcare and banking may seem vastly different at first glance, these people-focused industries must both find new ways to adapt to changing consumer expectations, invest in digital innovation and adjust to workforce transformation. Whether it’s a tonsil check or a credit check, proactive measures can improve customers’ wellbeing while simultaneously building the bottom line. Now that’s a healthy prognosis.

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Joe Salesky is the CEO of CRMNEXT, a leading CRM solution provider custom-built for financial services. A seasoned leader in digital transformation and financial services, Joe has been granted 21 patents for technology broadly used by consumers and large enterprises, including mobile banking and the original patent for web conferencing. He can be reached at [email protected]