Companies across sectors and industries pay lip service to designing their services and experiences around customers. They know it’s the key differentiating themselves from their competition in the market. This in turn leads to better margins, greater customer retention, higher average spend per customer, and a further reduction in cost to serve and total cost of ownership. But few meet this objective, particularly in the banking sector. Viewing services through the lens of customers shows experiences often fall well short of their expectations.

That’s what Datacom found after a large-scale research programme on customer experience (CX) conducted in 2021. Our analysts investigated customer experiences of various organisations first-hand across different industries. These findings were validated by customer interviews in which we observed participants navigating the available channels. From this research, we scored each company based on experience complexity, how well it met expectations, customer effort to obtain a resolution, and the customer’s overall sentiment of the company.

CX failure: building systems to suit the organisation

We observed that most financial institutions across all tiers fall short of meeting basic customer expectations. The expectations from customers were simple:

  • Complete actions as promised in a timely manner
  • Minimal effort to complete simplified transactions, and a financial institution that takes ownership to resolve difficulties on behalf of their customers promptly and efficiently
  • Provide simple online banking experiences within limited red tape
  • Provide transparency regarding application outcomes, decisions, fees, and timelines, including openness to actions promised and the progress of these
  • Allow them to feel like a valued customer regardless of the enquiry.

Getting just these basics right could create a powerful point of difference. The catch? Companies must be brave enough to innovate the way they measure customer experience success.

While making an honest attempt at centring the customer, most executives still focus on measures most relevant to the company, not the consumer. These include ones that reduce the cost to serve or shift demand altogether. The risk of this approach is that while costs are reduced or efficiency increases for the company, they don’t necessarily translate to improved CX — and in some cases can erode it. For example, when shifting customers left to digital channels when only considering the cost to serve can come at the expense of customer experiences — it may remove cost by removing things like human interaction, speed, or bespoke solutions. Instead, shift focus to resolving enquiries in full, proactively getting ahead of these, and removing frustration from the journey. This can still perform to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, but also create customer delight.

Consider failure demand that is contact with customers caused by a failure to do something right. Traditional measurements may push companies to improve the wrong elements to better manage this demand. For example, customers want their issues solved now, and in one contact. So, focusing on handling times rather than time to resolve, or service levels rather than time to answer, may not move the needle towards delivering better customer service.

Streamlined service in other sectors raises customer expectations

Problems facing financial institutes are compounded by the streamlined experiences customers are getting from businesses outside of the industry. They ask, “Why can’t my bank give me the same flexibility, efficiency, and transparency as I enjoy from providers like Uber and Netflix?” Their bank holds intimate details about their lives, so, arguably, should be able to deliver an even more tailored service. This huge potential throws the experience customers do get into sharp relief.

Start with customer-centric metrics to get an edge

No one bank is currently leading in this space — act now to win customer hearts and minds and gain a competitive edge. But how? Investing in digital solutions will be part of it, but most important is to design experiences around what people need. That starts with shifting what you measure. Choose metrics that centre on customer delight, not speed, efficiency, or cost savings. While these additional benefits to the company will often come as a side effect of truly customer-centric experience design, this can only come from solutions that factor in customer feedback and resolve their common pain points.

Chloe has been part of the professional services team within Datacom since 2012, with prior experience in financial services. She has over 10 years' experience in contact centres across frontline leadership and support services roles in government, financial services, and insurance.

Related industries
Financial services
Related solutions
Customer experience