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Do you hear what they’re saying?


How are we doing? This question lies at the foundation of any organization’s quest for continuous improvement. For banks and credit unions, the answer encompasses more than financial statements.

In consumer-centric organizations, feedback is critical to sustaining and deepening relationships and contributing to long-term profitability. It sounds simplistic and should go without saying, but to better serve their customers, financial institutions need to understand them on a fundamental level. Unfortunately, this is where many banks and credit unions fall short. The successful financial institution dissects and analyzes its customer experience on an ongoing basis, then acts based on that intelligence.

Financial institutions that focus on delivering an excellent customer experience have a real opportunity to differentiate themselves from the pack. Research shows those companies that excel at customer experience are those that understand and monitor the “voice of the customer” (VoC), then integrate that feedback into their processes and offerings. Those companies grow anywhere from 4 to 8 percent faster than their competition, according to CMS Wire.

Consider these statistics:

  • When customers feel like you understand them, their perceived value of your company increases. VoC programs lead to 55 percent higher customer retention rates.
  • Customer service organizations have the power to drive positive brand sentiment. For example, 77 percent of consumers view brands more favorably when brands seek out and apply customer feedback, according to a Microsoft report.
  • Efforts to improve the customer experience have far-reaching effects on the entire organization—companies with initiatives to improve customer experience also see employee engagement increase by 20 percent on average, McKinsey & Company has found.

A true voice of the customer strategy is a multifaceted process focused on understanding the customer experience via actionable data and analysis across multiple channels and touchpoints, both online and offline.

Keep these three important points in mind if your financial institution desires a comprehensive customer survey experience.

Consider all customer experience touchpoints

First comes the design and deployment of surveys using a variety of methodologies. The focus should be on gathering, measuring and interpreting customer experience feedback at every touchpoint, from new account openings in the branch to the call center and online channels. By collecting consumer feedback, upselling and cross-selling success rates can improve by 15 to 20 percent, according to Gartner research.

Ensure you’re gathering the right data

Surveys are just the start. One of the keys to creating a successful customer experience program lies in the data accumulated from everything that has happened up to this point in the customer’s journey. The data gathered needs to include real-time knowledge across significant consumer satisfaction metrics that can be applied directly to specific areas that affect the customer experience. Measuring net promoter score may only scratch the surface of what your financial institution would like to learn.

Figure out in advance how you’ll analyze the data

There exists a thin line between a comprehensive service that yields insightful consumer understanding and one with reams of data but few insights that directly affect bottom-line performance. Sixty-five percent of companies say improving their data analysis is very important to delivering a better customer experience, so once the data is collected, then what? Who will mine the data for actionable insights? If there is not a data scientist on staff, should we consider outsourcing the work?

In today’s consumer-focused world, dissecting and analyzing the customer experience can provide key insights that financial institutions can use to ensure they are truly putting customers first. Ninety percent of global executives who use data analytics report that they improved their ability to deliver a great customer experience. This data-driven, customer-centric approach paves the way for multiple benefits including:

  • Improved satisfaction
  • Greater loyalty and retention
  • Better performance

It’s never been more important to invest in relationships. The most effective way of doing that is by putting the customer first, anticipating their needs and seamlessly delivering on expectations—wherever they are in the customer journey and through their preferred channels.

Carrie Stapp is senior vice president of product management for Harland Clarke.

Get insights on how to leverage and analyze the treasure troves of data your financial institution collects in “Harnessing big data to personalize banking,” a BAI Executive Report.