Understanding consumer intent is the path to customer loyalty
To provide that experience, stop thinking of customer experience in terms of channels, stop thinking of it in terms of self-service and assisted service, and start thinking of it holistically. What is the customer trying to do? Only when companies do this can they truly offer greater convenience, attract new customers, deepen relationships and, in turn, strengthen customer loyalty.
Risk, challenge, opportunity
With so many new fintech options available to consumers, institutions that fail to keep up to the evolving landscape risk losing customers to those that do take steps to advance banking business outcomes.
For the industry, the challenge is largely one of failing to measure channel development the way their customers do. As many as 80% of banking executives feel they’ve made huge strides in improving their customer experience, while 72% of banking customers say they have noticed no improvement. Only 28% of customers feel they’ve noticed any improvement, a stark contrast to banking executive perceptions.
The opportunity for institutions to address the needs of customers and thereby advance business outcomes is tremendous. Recall that as many as 72% of banking customers are essentially up for grabs, or will be in the near future.
Self-service: the first, best key
Institutions that deliver exceptional self-service, particularly via the customer engagement cloud, will be the ones positioned to take advantage of the coming exponential increase in digital banking transaction volume while addressing concurrent transaction complexity. Technologies do exist to manage that complexity and at the same time lower costs, drive revenues and deepen relationships with customers.
With many banking institutions expecting decreased physical branch activity, the key is to deliver intent-driven engagement with customers through their preferred channel via their device of choice. This goes well beyond updating site FAQs – customers must be empowered to engage with institutions in a way that anticipates their intent, provides a similar holistic experience regardless of channel, and delivers the right moments ranging from acquisition and onboarding to basic banking services.
Self-service speed and convenience with a seamless experience are key to engaging new customers and retaining existing ones in the face of growing threats.
From channel-centric engagement to intent-driven engagement
Today, and more so in the immediate future, digital engagement must be on the consumer’s terms, not merely the company’s. Engaging with consumers on the channel of their choice will become essential in attracting and retaining customers in the future.
According to IDC’s 2014 Retail Insights, estimates show that engaging consumers with a consistent cross-channel experience results in 15%-30% higher customer spending than yesterday’s channel-centric experience. New intent-driven approaches are consistently advancing banking business outcomes.
Unfortunately, customer loyalty can be fragile. It is known that this loyalty is damaged whenever customers experience any sort of disconnect while moving between channels. In the worst case, customers are required to re-enter basic information when changing channels, but even being required to log in again, or to wait for information to populate the new channel, has a similar effect.
Customers want the ability to self-serve their banking needs via a mobile app, or initiate live chat support when needed, without having to re-explain or re-enter data. They want to be able to click the “Help” button while using the online bill-pay page, and have contextual help pop up immediately, with an unobtrusive option to engage live support.
Providing that contextual help through AI chatbots is a baseline. Facebook Messenger Chat and Apple Business Chat, along with various CX options, will be required features within the omnichannel, in the eyes of customers. Remember that we are now in the age of Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and others. Leading companies are beginning to re-imagine IVR as AI-powered speech, drawing on the same natural language processing engine and business logic as their text-based counterparts.
Such abilities will provide the customer a continuous, holistic approach far greater than merely optioning multiple discrete channels.
Intent-driven digital marketing leads to conversion improvement
Delivering marketing offers that are both relevant and appropriately timed is the key to conversion with a customer base that increasingly demands a seamless engagement cloud. For example, ads that provide intent-driven engagement have been shown to be significantly more effective than generic ads. Knowing the customer’s foremost current intent enables this radically increased conversion, and provides even greater click-through rates, which lead to future conversion. An Accenture survey reveals that 67% of US banking customers believe that sharing their personal data should result in delivery of personalised product and services advice.
A virtual agent that engages customers seamlessly and holistically, based on current intent, is proven to deliver and achieve new purchase paths. It must provide the single correct answer to a specific question or need, and provide a timely, relevant marketing engagement at the right moment. Factors such as these, which are not available within a multi-channel approach, are the reason an intent-driven approach increases customer spending so significantly.
Tomorrow’s approach, today
To retain existing customers, advance business outcomes, and attract new customers in the face of growing customer dissatisfaction, marketplace evolution, and alternative fintech applications, financial institutions will have to give these customers and prospects a reason not to run into the waiting arms of competitors.
To remain competitive, institutions should evaluate their ability to do the following:
- Deliver exceptional customer service across all channels, taking advantage of the growth – in both volume and complexity – of digital banking transactions.
- Provide relevant self-service support throughout the customer’s engagement, including mobile devices, to reduce wait times and support department expense.
- Create a consistent cross-channel experience for consumers that is effortless, regardless of a customer’s preferred channel or device of choice.
- Improve conversion and advance banking business outcomes by delivering marketing offers that are both relevant and appropriately timed, leveraging the right moments.
- Attract new customers through material improvements to customer experience, ahead of the wave of consumers who will flee (and are already fleeing) those institutions that fail to meet these challenges.
- Make it personal by understanding customer intent to deliver highly targeted, relevant marketing offers that are much more likely to result in a sale.
Today’s increasingly digital customer base puts growing pressures on institutions. The number of customers who are unimpressed by their bank’s efforts in delivering a new model of convenience exposes an enormous opportunity for banks and credit unions to focus on the customer experience as a point of key differentiation.
Greater competitiveness, customer loyalty and revenues are the advantages to those institutions who deliver convenience via sophisticated services in conjunction with an omnichannel approach. Those who don’t will risk driving their customers into the arms of those who do.
Enabling customers to seamlessly, holistically engage the services cloud – regardless of their preferred device or channel, at the right time, in the right context — is the path to maximising the current opportunity.
By Scott Horn, CMO, 7