A decade ago, businesses competed primarily on two things: product and price. Brands that couldn’t partake in this race to the bottom by undercutting their competitors were forced to be innovative trend setters who continually set new benchmarks every year.
For financial services companies, this generally meant that providers who could deliver the lowest fees and charges generally came out on top…and stayed on top.
However in recent years, a new competitive landscape has emerged and taken almost every industry by storm – including the financial services sector.
New research tells us that more than two-thirds of companies now compete primarily on customer experience (measuring how customers feel as they interact with your business at all stages of the sales cycle).
Businesses that prioritise delivering an exceptional customer experience can achieve astounding results. Positive reviews and organic word of mouth are now the most powerful (and cost effective) ways to drive revenue, while bad reviews can sink even the most established businesses. A whopping 93% of all consumers say online reviews influence their purchasing decisions!
We work with credit unions and mutual banks who have traditionally had face to face customer services as their key point of difference, and are seeking to translate this to an equally differentiating and powerful digital experience. Otherwise, they risk losing the battle to organisations that double down and deliver on CX.
Let’s take a look at some of the key strategies we see market leaders adopting, and how it’s setting them apart in the minds of consumers…
Long established financial institutions have found it difficult to overhaul decades of existing processes in favour of a digital approach.
Whether this is because it was not prioritised or simply too challenging, the gap has been a welcome opportunity for fast-moving competitors who have embraced a digital-first strategy and can offer:
- more engagement at a faster speed
- self-service via any touchpoint
- intuitive online experiences, such as mobile banking
- the ability to connect anywhere, anytime
Another benefit of the digital-first strategy is leveraging support from external experts to reduce the need to retain expensive professionals in house. This also allows these companies to save on time-consuming manual work by fully leveraging technology and their managed services agreements to handle IT operations for them. Internal IT teams can then be redeployed to strategic tasks that deliver rich and customised experiences, rather than being slowed down by IT operations and capability challenges.
Of all the benefits of a digital-first strategy though, perhaps the biggest is data. Now one of the most valuable assets on the planet, data provides the insights needed to deliver on the next key strategy used by forward-thinking brands: personalised experiences.
Data enables the building of thorough customer profiles that can be used to deliver personalised experiences – which are key to creating trust and brand loyalty.
However, this requires far more than sending out emails using a customer’s first name. Today, customers expect brands to know what they want even before they want it. For example, consider how leading brands such as Netflix and Amazon have been operating for years. By leveraging data, they’re able to suggest what a customer may enjoy watching next, or want to buy next, based on previous choices.
Legacy tools such as spreadsheets or ageing proprietary software make it near impossible to achieve this kind of customer intimacy. There is simply too much duplication, no clear history, and a lack of holistic view to effectively compile the necessary data to create a holistic picture of a customer’s behaviour – let alone their wants or needs.
The collection and use of data is also an area that troubles many financial services providers, due to the nature of their engagements with customers. These companies handle a lot of personally identifiable information which, if breached, could have catastrophic consequences (including for the company’s reputation).
Solving these challenges requires powerful yet secure systems – and this is the third key strategy we see forward-thinking financial services brands employing.
Leveraging technology to secure customer data while delivering personalised experiences
Cloud technology empowers leaders in the financial services sector to make confident advances on their journey to improving customer experience and intimacy.
Particularly where an organisation deploys a hybrid solution that maximises the benefits of private and public cloud infrastructure, the results can be remarkable.
For example, at Harbour IT we work extensively with financial services firms to design and deploy highly resilient, agile and secure cloud architecture that empowers them to deliver rich digital first and data driven experiences at scale, anywhere and at any time.
Organisations can then leverage this data to deepen the customer relationship, while guaranteeing customers that their data is safe and secure which promotes trust and brand loyalty.
Importantly, it also ensures compliance with the array of regulations that apply to financial services companies. This includes security features that enable employees to work securely from anywhere, while empowering them to deliver the level of customer service they aspire to.
Our own Cloud Metro, in combination with Azure, delivers a high performing hybrid cloud environment that you can manage through our intuitive Cloud Management Platform; allowing workloads and applications to sit in the right environment to meet data, business performance, and protection requirements.
To learn more about how to leverage cloud to drive a better customer experience in your business, please contact us.