March 31, 2016

Meeting the CX challenges in the financial sector

Erik Nyré

Head of CEM Consulting, Tieto

James Baker-Duly

International Sales, Credit Solutions and Services, Tieto

Find out our takeaways from the recent customer experience management conference, 20:20 Customer Experience: Financial Services Nordics event in Copenhagen.

Today, all sectors need to make improving their customer experience a top priority. Consumers have higher expectations than ever from the companies they do business with and the pressure is on to perform.

This is particularly true in the financial services sector. Whether it's banking or insurance, there are several key challenges that will have to be met for firms to be successful.

To find out more about the key trends and issues in this industry, we attended the recent 20:20 Customer Experience: Financial Services Nordics event in Copenhagen. Organised by Marketforce, the conference was an opportunity for leaders in the sector to get together and discuss what must be done in order to take customer experience to the next level.

The key challenges for financial services

One of the biggest questions facing the financial services (FS) sector at the moment is how they can better engage with customers. This is something many firms are struggling with, as the market is changing rapidly. The entrance of a range of smaller players such as technology providers is changing the landscape and creating huge disruption that larger, more established FS companies need to react to.

This is a particular problem for traditionally low-transaction companies such as insurance firms, who are now thinking about how they can engage with customers more often and in a more compelling way. With so much competition, customer experience is seen as a key way for forward-thinking organisations to stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impact on consumers.

Main trends to focus on

Questions about how to achieve this were high on the agenda at the 20:20 conference, and what struck us is that a lot of companies are now ready to embrace digital disruption in order to meet these goals.

Many firms are now looking to make use of emerging channels to keep in touch with their customers, and there were several innovative examples of these on show from the speakers. A survey run at the event found Internet of Things and social media innovations are among the developments set to have a major impact on customer experience in the next five years.

Greater automation and use of technology was also expected. The majority of survey respondents said the importance of face-to-face interactions will decline in the coming years, while most professionals expect to make extensive use of computer generated recommendations for providing guidance to customers within two years.

However, despite this, it was also highlighted that it's important not to lose sight of more traditional, 'analogue' channels when focusing on new innovations.

For instance, one speaker spoke about the 'autonomous customer paradox' that many firms are now currently seeing. In other words, while many consumers now spend a lot of their time engaged with digital channels, they still expect physical, human interactions to be available when needed, and most customers will not want to lose this option.

Improving understanding of customers was another key trend spoken about at the conference. Firms are now using a huge number of metrics to learn about consumers and offer them more personalised services - from fairly simple steps such as the greater use of satisfaction surveys to the use of telematics in the insurance sector to reward safe drivers with lower premiums.

One speaker noted their organisation has around 160 million interactions with its customers every quarter. This means there are a lot of opportunities for companies to draw insights - though companies will have to be careful how they use this potentially sensitive data.

Still work to be done

However, there is still a long way to go for the FS sector to make the digital transformation a success. What we noticed at the event was no firm has really yet been able to demonstrate a 'perfect' solution for embracing these trends and boosting their customer experience.

Overall, there's still a great deal of uncertainty about the direction FS organisations should be taking. While businesses know they must embrace digital solutions, they still need some help to point them in the right direction. Many firms, for instance, are studying what other industries have achieved for inspiration.

This had led to a greater focus on areas such as mobile and omnichannel as FS firms look to react to the shifting demands of consumers, taking the lead from services such as Netflix, where users can pick up where they left off, regardless of what device they are using.

However, it was evident from a lot of the discussions at the 20:20 that there is still a lot of work to do in order to develop effective omnichannel solutions, where customers are able to seamlessly move between different channels. So far, very few companies have mastered this.

Still, it was really positive to see innovation being made such a priority at the conference.

Taking the lead from smaller, more agile players, many firms are now looking to implemen solutions such as innovation labs to develop new ideas and improve the offerings they present to customers. This has already led to some great results, and we can expect to see it being made more of a priority in the years to come.

Read more about Customer Experience Management and Fincancial Services

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