Unifying the Customer Experience: The Key to Customer Service Success in Banking

Customer doing online banking on her phone

It’s no secret that the global pandemic accelerated digital transformation in almost every industry—and banking was no exception. Eric Head, VP of Experience Leadership at Verint explores new opportunities to provide excellent customer service.

As branches shut down due to COVID-19 regulations, customers turned to digital channels to conduct their business. Changing behaviors meant banks had to adapt quickly to meet new customer service needs.

Now, as we head into this next stage with an eye toward recovery, it’s clear that the patterns customers adopted during the height of the crisis won’t go away anytime soon. McKinsey reports that 75% of people who used digital channels for the first time during the pandemic indicated they will continue to use them when things return to “normal.”

Even before this past year, customers were increasingly choosing digital channels to start their customer journey. This trend is good news for banks. Digital channels offer improved convenience and security for consumers while cutting costs and boosting efficiency for banks. Many banks have been encouraging customers to go online for more than a decade.

There’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take advantage of increased digital traffic, provide excellent customer service in other channels, and unify omnichannel insights to improve bottom-line business results.

Digital First, But Omnichannel Still Rules

Due in large part to the pandemic, closed branches, and social distancing guidelines, our research shows customers tried digital before turning to agent-led support channels in 2021. These shifts in behavior represent huge potential savings when self-service works effectively.

Consider this: of people who reached out to a contact center, 73% had tried a digital channel first, according to the Verint Experience Index (VXI): Banking report published earlier this year. That translates into $1.6 million in potential savings for organizations when customers can self-service on digital channels instead of turning to the high-cost contact center.

However, not all customers will opt for digital first, so it’s important to meet them where they want to interact with you. The contact center still plays a crucial role in the customer experience strategy, but there’s an opportunity to break down silos across the contact center and digital teams.

Customer journeys are increasingly complex. According to the Verint report, bank customers use an average of 4.1 different channels in a single month. The picture becomes even more complex when drilling down into generational cohorts. Baby Boomers are consistent and comfortable with the desktop website, according to the report. However, Generation X and Millennials move effortlessly across all channels, from website, mobile app, branch, ATM, drive-thru, and everything in between. While Baby Boomers use an average of 2.3 channels per month, Generation X and Millennials use 5.3 and 5.1 channels, respectively.

Banks need to optimize the customer experience across the full journey because customers will use multiple touchpoints according to task, generation, and preference. Although customers are choosing digital first at an accelerated rate and prefer self-service and social channels, they still expect informed, relevant, and authentic interactions—including human interaction—when they want it.

That means banks can’t think “digital only.” Companies need to provide a consistent experience anywhere customers engage.

Unify Omnichannel Insights for Better Results

Most banks know by now that providing an excellent customer experience is a business imperative. Extensive research shows that highly satisfied customers are more likely to use digital channels, recommend the company, remain loyal, and buy additional products and services. When compared with less satisfied customers, highly satisfied customers are 121% more likely to sign up for additional services and 107% more likely to recommend the company, according to the Verint research.

Most banks, therefore, have some way to assess the customer experience in each channel. But banks often remain siloed, with separate and distinct business units that don’t know what the other is doing.

Consider the following scenarios:

  • Customers start pre-approvals for loan applications online and are directed to a local branch to complete the process. Customers use the website to provide feedback on the overall journey, so the digital team knows that loan applicants often end up calling the contact center when the local loan officer isn’t able to help them. What if the digital leader had a quick and easy way to share these insights with her colleagues in branches and the contact center to better empower branch employees, coach agents on this topic, and improve customer experiences?
  • Jordan is a contact center agent who scores very well on metrics like average call time and first-call resolution. But how is she making customers feel? Are customers more or less likely to recommend the bank after an interaction with her? Are they more or less likely to open a new account? Traditional contact center metrics don’t provide a holistic view of agent performance that takes the customer into account. In other words, traditional metrics don’t provide a balanced scorecard to evaluate and coach agents.
  • The mortgage and checking account teams both have important initiatives underway. They want to get customer feedback to help inform these projects. But customers who have both mortgages and checking accounts get multiple, poorly timed surveys that collide to create a frustrating experience.
  • The contact center knows that a huge volume of calls come in because there is a lack of clarity on the “apply for a mortgage page.” The diagnosis and solution for this problem lives in three silos: mortgage, digital, and contact center. Imagine how quickly this could be corrected and how many more customers could self-service if all three were integrated and everyone had access to each other’s data?

The only solution to these common challenges is a holistic approach to customer experience, unified across silos and business units. A wide-angle, macro view is mandatory to see and resolve problem areas. That may sound intimidating, but a unified and business-wide approach to customer experience actually simplifies and amplifies efforts.

 The Future of Banking: Omnichannel and Integrated

How can banks prepare for constantly evolving customer expectations to ensure the customer experience continues to deliver? A unified customer experience management program allows organizations to garner deep insights into the customer experience to determine potential hang-ups in the customer journey.

Banks should prepare for continued high volumes in the contact center channels, and capture and measure insights from customers through interaction experience solutions like post-chat or post-call IVR surveys. Insights here allow you to listen, analyze, then act by capturing customer feedback immediately after an experience, enabling real-time alerting to issues and speeding time to resolution, allowing you to close the loop. It’s also important to move beyond just having survey data in your customer experience program.  Mining unstructured text input from social media channels or call recordings from agent/consumer interactions can also provide a much richer set of data to help diagnose issues that are driving lower KPI scores.  And finally, tools like digital behavior analytics enable organizations at the aggregate level to visualize what customers experience in digital channels to identify issues—and opportunities—and then act quickly.

Simply put, while all customer channels are important to the overall strategy, digital and contact center need to be the two anchor points. With an always-on listening program—and a platform that can synthesize all the disparate customer experience data sources—the contact center and digital teams now have good intel to share with each other. Organizations can tie contact center post-call or chat data and digital experience data together to uncover omnichannel customer experience trends for deeper analysis and action. It’s about getting the right data to the right person at the right time to make better decisions that drive improvements and efficiencies for both the customer and the bank.

About the Author

Eric Head, VP of Experience Leadership at VerintEric Head is VP of Experience Leadership at Verint. With close to 20 years in the customer experience (CX) space, Eric has worked with clients across several industries to establish their measurement programs and improve the experiences they deliver. He has been instrumental in building Verint’s Experience Management program and client base and is a frequent speaker on CX best practices.

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