Customer experience - the new game changer for financial servicesKT Prasad
The technology that a financial services firm chooses for an improved customer interaction should offer scalability, the ability to seamlessly integrate with legacy systems, and offer a user-friendly platform for easy interaction.
How often have you been asked ‘what’s your customer experience strategy?’ Or have you stopped to think how long it took for you to notice the emergence of the ‘experience economy’? As a financial services organisation, you are not exempt from a strategic focus on customer experience (CX). Rather, there’s been a noticeable renewed commitment to CX worldwide.
In India, this domain has always captured a prominent place among world players because of its ever-expanding market coupled with rapid growth. The combined efforts of the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has fueled India’s growth in the financial services sector, making it an attractive market to invest for both local and foreign financial organisations.
Now let’s talk numbers. According to India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), as many as 42 asset management companies are operating in the country, making the asset management sector in India one of the fastest growing of its kind in the world. In December 2017, the number of mutual fund portfolios stood at 66.5 million, accounting for assets of a whopping $331.42 billion. And the numbers continue to surge while I write.
With growth comes challenges, and the financial services sector is not immune to its share of trials. Amid increasing competition, stringent regulations and constantly evolving technological advancements, the sector is working round the clock to sell their products and services, but more importantly, keep the customer happy. Precisely why according to a Deloitte study, 62 percent of companies view customer experience delivered by contact centres as a competitive differentiator.
The tech-savvy consumer is for keeps
Let’s say financial enterprises have been using technology for over two decades now. We aren’t talking of legacy systems any longer. Instead, we are discussing technological solutions that can transform customer experience and how they do so.
Looking back at the manner in which the financial enterprises' sector has functioned over the years, customer experience, more often than not, took a backseat at the altar of a cost-effective business. The evolution of technology, combined with tech-savvy customers, has simplified business considerably. Keeping the customer at the epicentre of business decisions today creates a win-win situation.
Let’s not forget either that customers are digital savvy, thanks to smart devices and technology penetration. The need of the hour is for financial services companies to keep innovating for an augmented customer experience. In other words, the need to build customer loyalty now is needed more than ever.
Wooing and winning customers
Now that we are looking at a faceless selling process, most financial services organisations have to rely heavily on technology to deliver an amplified customer experience.
Take India, for instance, where digital initiatives in financial services have received the government’s nod. It is little surprise then that the sector is turning to artificial intelligence, IoT, machine learning, big data and data analytics to achieve their customer satisfaction goals.
Picture an instance where customers research and order online from a financial services company. Their decision to continue business transactions with the same organisation for all future needs depends primarily on their experience, and on the convenience that comes with it. For example, who would have thought there would be a time when physical wallets could be replaced with digital wallets? Thanks to hassle-free payment gateways, brands like The Mobile Wallet have completely disrupted the financial space for the most mundane daily transactions.
The power to revolutionise the customer experience
The Indian financial services domain, in particular, has always been a fast enabler of technology. And as technologies evolve at lightning speed, the sector is getting more aggressive in adapting to newer technologies that facilitate better customer experience.
For instance, artificial intelligence is being used to streamline processes and enable better management of financial forecasting. Financial enterprises have also set up AI-based chatbots to answer customer queries about product information and services in less than a second.
Many organisations have also deployed IoT to assist them with issues such as fraud detection and to facilitate improved customer experience. They are also looking at robotics to perform complex and time-consuming backend processes.
In addition, predictive analytics is used to get near real-time feedback on customer experience and mood. Studies have revealed that many insurance companies are looking at blockchain technology to secure data and simplify the onboarding process, ensuring a good kickoff to the association.
Another ace up the tech sleeve is omnichannel. Financial services organisations are beginning to see the value of consistent omnichannel communication in ensuring customer loyalty, enhancing their experience and, eventually, retention. It’s a given that a simple customer service engagement platform can achieve more business value when compared to a 15-minute phone conversation with a customer care executive, but the challenge lies in the consistency of communication.
With customers looking at the quick resolution of their concerns and an instant response to queries, omnichannel uses big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to sieve through multiple layers of data in an effort to derive actionable insights on customers. Omnichannel also provides a panoramic view of the customer journey to gauge the quality of an interaction and to then determine what customers value most.
For instance, HDFC Securities, an online trading platform for stocks, IPOs and mutual funds, has deployed an omnichannel chat program to manage its customer acquisition and growth plans. Statistics reveal chat as a favoured medium of interaction, resulting in a phenomenal increase in the volume of their business as well as enhancing the efficiency of their agents. HDFC Securities is now trying to leverage this solution to enable customers to directly chat with their relationship managers anytime.
In the near future
Technology, in any form, has the power to redefine customer experience, both for the agent managing the interaction, and the customer. Be it insurance, mutual funds or investment options, technology eases the process of selling and risk analysis for financial services organisations.
Let’s take a look at an insurance company. As clients communicate through various connected devices, wearable and sensors, it will help an insurance agent to identify and manage client risks and approach them with more personalised services and quotes. The shift to a customer-centric approach from a conventional product-centric approach requires not just deploying innovative technologies, but changes to the very core of the business model.
Allowing customers to play a pivotal role is synonymous with letting them decide how, when and where they need customer support. It requires aligning every entity and strategy in the organisation towards offering an improved customer experience. This also calls for a considerable effort in altering the culture of the organisation and training employees to match the value that needs to be delivered.
With customers interacting through multiple channels such as social media, chat, email, phone etc., organisations must sit up to data security and storage needs, the threats they attract and apt solutions. The technology that a financial services firm chooses for an improved customer interaction should offer scalability, the ability to seamlessly integrate with legacy systems, and offer a user-friendly platform for easy interaction. Such a solution will mitigate operational complexity, help deliver unparalleled customer experience, and increase customer loyalty and employee satisfaction in the long run.
Every positive disruption in technology comes at a cost with some complexity thrown in for good measure. In a dynamic business landscape like the one we are living in today, financial services organisations have little choice but to embrace these disruptions and play their cards well.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)