Financial services companies are spending significant amounts of their budgets on CX. According to a Microsoft Dynamics 365 survey of insurers, banks and other financial services firms, 86% assign 25% or more of their overall budget to customer experience, where nearly half (45%) assign 50% or more. Among the 46% of companies in the study who expect their organizations’ CX budgets to increase somewhat or substantially in the next year, 59% will invest in leveraging customer data for real-time personalization at the branch level.

Despite the financial commitment, many argue that the actual results are only so-so. With that in mind, here are three successes and three failures from 2021.

3 Financial Services CX Success Stories

1. Financial Education Access: The Union Bank provides customers and prospects with access to its “financial university,” which includes a full suite of financial articles, coaching sessions and financial calculators. “We’re able to not only share some great advice for them [customer] to be thinking about; we’re also increasing their financial literacy,” said Dian Franks, marketing director. “We feel it’s important for us to be there for our communities as well. When our community is financially stable, then the community thrives. We want to be helping someone through possibly a difficult time or difficult decision, in the end that’s what we want to be remembered for — not our free checking accounts.”

2. Automated Loan Originations: Customers today can apply for mortgages, personal loans and credit cards without ever meeting with a loan officer. Financial documents can be uploaded and signed electronically. Traditionally, many financial analog processes like paperwork and branch visits to process business loans, according to Derek Corcoran, Chief Strategy Officer at Numerated. This amounted to poor customer experiences and, at worst, lost business for the banks. “Over the past five years, and especially over the past 18 months, these banks have been forced to adapt,” Corcoran said. “Today, there are hundreds of banks that offer business lending and account origination processes that are digital-first, which has provided a tremendous customer experience boost to borrowers.”

Corcoran pointed to Eastern Bank, which offers fully automated, end-to-end loan originations. This means that a borrower doesn’t need to speak with a banker unless that person wants to — there’s no prerequisite branch visit or other unnecessary steps.

3. Mobile Payments: Consumers became more receptive to mobile payments, with 65% of respondents saying they would use a mobile app to make a bill payment, according to a Broadridge study. The study also found that nearly one-third (32%) of consumers made an online bill payment in the last year and 22% created an online account.

The report pointed out that 40 million of the 66 million customers of Bank of America, one of the nation’s largest banks, are now using digital channels. A quarter of these new digital customers are Baby Boomers. “We’re seeing a particular push in the financial services industry to win customers with design thinking that benefits the customer first — such as Rocket Mortgage and Apple Card, said Matt Swain, Managing Director at Broadridge. “Each of these offerings challenged industry norms, Rocket Mortgage with its streamlining of the loan approval process and Apple Card with its digital-first card experience to support its Apple Wallet strategy.”

Related Article: Finserv: 2 Tips for Balancing Fraud and Customer Experience

Learning Opportunities

3 Financial Services CX Failures

1. Omnichannel Experiences: While financial services companies have successfully moved many interactions to the digital channels, they still fall short in providing good omnichannel CX. A recent study by Next Caller found that just over one-third (34%) of consumers say their experiences when calling their bank are “just OK,” while an additional 14% say it is “slow and frustrating.” Furthermore, more than 30% of surveyed consumers report that they would switch banks after just 1-2 poor customer service experiences. Forty percent of consumers surveyed said that customer experience was an influential factor in choosing their financial institution.

Millennials were even more frustrated with financial institution CX, according to the study. Millennials were almost twice as likely (41%) than Gen X (23%) and Baby Boomers (24%) to say that “a better digital/mobile experience” was influential in them choosing their banks.

According to Next Caller, financial institutions that are providing an exceptional customer service experience are delivering on the following:

  • Personalized call experiences
  • Quickly meeting customers’ expectations

2. Inadequate Self-Service: Self-service capabilities offered by many financial institutions do not efficiently resolve the customer or member’s inquiries, said Sidra Berman, Engageware chief marketing officer. For instance, an institution may offer digital-first, self-service technology, like a chatbot, but fail to make use of it in a manner that guides a consumer through all the steps necessary to find a resolution without the need for human interaction. This can be a product of inconsistency in information, difficulty locating needed information and conflicting answers from different channels. “To truly improve digital customer experience, banks and credit unions must focus on tactics that optimize self-service channels and look at their customer self-service through the eyes of the consumer,” Berman said.

3. Disjointed Front, Back Ends: Financial services have invested heavily in building digital capabilities, and they continue to put significant effort into operationalizing their digital initiatives through automation and building digital front ends, said Ashish Deshmukh, Newgen Software head of banking and financial services. But the front ends — mobile, web and social interfaces are disjointed from the back end.

"They add multiple touchpoints and applications that do not talk to each other, leading to broken customer experiences,” Deshmukh said. “Additionally, some banks enable digital by adding multiple systems for different products such as lending and deposits. While both the channels are digital, the customers’ experience is broken and inconsistent when they want to opt for both products. Moreover, cross-selling becomes difficult with siloed applications targeting different products. Banks should aim at a single unified platform to deliver a consistent and unified experience to their customers.”