Today’s hottest consumer brands learned early on that providing an exceptional customer experience held the keys to unlocking enduring success. This is especially true for Direct to Consumer (DTC) brands like Glossier, Away, Ring, ThirdLove and UNTUCKit. These hot companies understand that modern consumers are tired of being treated like a number and yearn for a high-touch, personalized customer journey, from start to finish. These learnings quickly disrupted the retail industry and set the stage for further disruption of a wide range of other industries.
In particular, more financial services companies are taking a page out of the DTC playbook and incorporating personalization into their strategies. In fact, one study found that 89% of consumers choose their financial services providers based on how well they incorporate personalized experiences. This has a direct link to increased revenue and customer loyalty. Even a 1-point improvement in Forrester’s CX Index score can yield $19 billion more assets under management for the average multichannel brokerage. Personalization can also yield better internal engagement, with businesses that prioritize CX seeing an average 20% increase in employee engagement.
This shift to personalized customer experiences is critical in an industry that is all about trust. According to Accenture, 52% of U.S. clients switched providers because of a negative customer service experience. Financial brands – not always known for their highest quality customer service – know that they must place greater emphasis on meeting the unique needs of customers at every stage of their journey. And luckily, they can use the success of the DTC model as a guide.
Just like DTC retailers re-imagined the customer experience, delivering high quality goods directly to consumers and building in important touch points along the way, financial services companies must re-think old-school practices to deliver the personalized advice and services today’s customers demand. Here are some helpful ways that financial companies can increase their customer service assets:
Elevate technology to create a seamless CX: DTC brands did a great job of embracing advanced technology and modern CRM tools to measure and improve their customers’ experiences. Today’s financial brands need this same type of technology make-over; they need to rely on unified CRM platforms and AI-powered technologies, such as virtual assistants and chatbots, to create a personalized, yet frictionless experience.
Increase visibility: Making sure your technology can keep track of all customer interactions is vital, especially true for highly regulated industries. For financial brands, ensuring full visibility into their customers’ experiences provides a detailed picture of what their financial needs, vulnerabilities and challenges are, and what they require from their provider to meet these goals. The right customer service platform can integrate the full spectrum of customer data, allowing financial brands and their customer service arm to address any issues before they become a real problem.
Make the experience omnichannel: It’s not enough to just meet customers on their preferred channel. Some prefer phone and email, while others prefer chat or social media. Customer service representatives need to be able to switch between channels during a conversation without losing context. Financial brands that provide agents with these tools, and further enhance the experience through things like automation, machine learning and sentiment analysis, will be well-positioned to address the issue at hand and strengthen client relationships for the long haul.
Be empathetic: Empathy-driven customer service has long differentiated the DTC brand winners from the losers. For example, during last year’s California wildfires, UNTUCKit knew that they were not going to be able to deliver many orders in time. Rather than wait for customers to reach out with questions about shipment delays, the company proactively sent an empathetic email to all of its customers in selected California zip codes. This level of empathetic service is key. In fact, Kustomer data found that customers place the most value on customer service agents delivering empathetic service and an astounding 96% of consumers will leave brands after a high effort customer service experience. Financial services brands have an important opportunity to infuse empathy to build more authentic connections with customers.
Build trust: The financial industry relies on trust perhaps more than any other industry. As stewards of consumers’ savings and potentially their future nest egg, financial firms must ensure clients feel safe and secure. Throughout the pandemic, consumers looked to their banks for stability, safety and security. By embracing a customer-centric mindset, financial institutions are able to drive home their commitment to meeting the full spectrum of client needs, addressing their pain points and providing personalized solutions to clients’ issues, big and small.
Use data wisely: Collecting and harnessing the right data is an essential jumping off point for financial brands. These brands have access to an enormous pool of data that can be leveraged to provide valuable insights for creating more personalized interactions. At the same time, ensuring the safety and security of sensitive financial data is mission critical to maintaining and building customer trust. Interestingly, Accenture found that 73% of clients are willing to share their personal data with financial institutions, so long as that information is put toward experience improvements. If today’s financial brands can utilize data and insights to deliver a stellar customer experience, that would be a win-win for the provider and customer alike.
Just like the biggest DTC brands, the players in the financial industry are realizing that high caliber customer experiences can be a real game changer. Embracing digital transformation, fueled by advanced technology and data, in combination with the human touch, will help financial brands emerge as trusted advisors that truly put the needs of their customers first.