Where Financial Services Companies Are Succeeding—and Struggling—At Customer Experience
Written by Margie Huntley
Change happens daily, even hourly, within the financial services industry. Newer technology overtakes a predecessor, electronic payments continue trying to edge out paper, mistakes still happen, questions still arise, and the greater majority of companies are working at thin staffing margins as there is more and more automation.
In terms of customer experience (CX) and the effects of these changes, there are good and bad results as it pertains to true service assistance. We live in a time when everything is running in fast motion, and that leads to customers expecting immediate answers. It has also led companies to compete in the area of response times, and that has led to unrealistic expectations. We live in a very 'Varuca – I want it now' culture.
It has been said multiple times before that what sets a company apart from its competitors is excellent service. Over the last thirty years in the financial service industry, we have gone from 100% individualized service to nearly 100% self-service. Today’s percentage that does not rely upon self-service still expects an extremely quick response. And let’s be honest—we all want to talk to an actual human being when we can’t get what we need from self-service. Email, immediate messaging, chat functions, bots, and the like have replaced telephone calls, but telephone menus have replaced human beings, too. It has led individuals to use every avenue trying to reach any individual in an organization from which they need help to get the maximum speed to resolution.
The effect on CX sees multiple individuals working on the same issue at the same time, which is inefficient at best. Adding to the issue of lighter staffing, one can see where this compounds into significant challenges and time constraints. CX teams receive phone calls, emails, service tickets, and chats simultaneously, and it’s quite difficult to respond without effective service models in place. Those companies without effective service models can soon see failure, client attrition, and CX exhaustion.
This is where setting reasonable and fair expectations must be addressed. Service Level Agreements allow for much of that, however in such cases where self-service isn’t feasible, it is more the human response back to the client that sets the tone. Those requesting assistance want to know their issue has been received, and that it is being worked on. The CX representative has to provide confirmation of that, along with the correct expectation of how long the solution will take, with multiple touch points in the interim to provide status updates.
Appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs), measured against industry standard (and for the savviest of companies, better than industry standard) are put into place to ensure that the level of staffing is equal to the KPIs established. This is a delicate balance, especially in the financial services industry, due to peak volume times. Rolling historical statistics must be studied and relied upon to indicate increases and/or decreases in volumes across CX platforms. This also allows internal management of CX teams to ensure that internal expectations are just as clearly set and met.
Preparation and training are also key. Everyone has heard, or been part of, the horror stories coming out of financial services company mergers and system conversions, where not everything goes as planned. That is when CX teams are at their most vulnerable and must also be the most buoyed up by their company. This again falls to expectations; there must be an expectation of solid and on-going training to keep up with change, most times done in split sessions. With that must come solid and centralized documentation. When the CX orchestra is driven to perform at a faster pace, centralization allows for one location of information, helping to ensure that everyone is reading from the same sheet of music.
Customer experience is one of the most difficult roles within a company. Representatives can interact with the nicest and the nastiest customers within minutes of each other and must know that they have the knowledge and backing to provide the best experience possible to their customers, diffuse difficult situations, enhance client retention, and set the standard by which their company runs.
As CheckAlt continues to grow and build its partnerships, it is very important that we constantly evaluate levels of need and service. We are looking to add experienced support team members who are fully dedicated to the success of our clients, and ensure that we strike the right balance. Click here to see all job openings at CheckAlt, including with our CX team.