Customer experience is a constant priority within all areas of the financial services industry, but with the introduction of regulations like Consumer Duty, more demand for transparency from customers and an ever-growing focus on digital experiences, the area is undergoing significant transformation. Natalie Fuller, Head of Customer Marketing and Communications at Cashplus Bank, offers her insights and perspectives on how customer experience is changing and what financial services companies need to focus on to ensure satisfaction and trust moving forward.
Consumer Duty: Creating Higher Expectations
One of the most significant changes in recent years is the impact of Consumer Duty. This regulation, introduced in July 2023, demands that all financial institutions deliver good outcomes for retail customers, raising the bar when it comes to customer experience.
“There was a huge step forward in raising the bar for what is actually expected in customer experience for financial services,” highlights Natalie. “It’s not enough to design a journey where you are delivering or saying you are delivering good outcomes, it’s actually what you are doing to be able to validate and show and demonstrate that.”
This shift requires institutions to embed good customer experiences into their entire business, from company processes, culture and understanding what good customer outcomes really look like, to ensuring every employee understands their role in achieving positive outcomes and identifying potential harm for escalation.
“When you’re doing that at scale, that’s quite a complex task, and so I think that’s definitely a big focus for customer experience at the moment,” adds Natalie.
The introduction of Consumer Duty is something that excites Natalie, with the prospective to continually put the customer at the heart of everything.
“I think it’s a really positive thing and something that’s quite exciting,” enthuses Natalie. “Especially when it creates a framework to help people understand how to think about creating a good experience that you can push out across the business.”
Vulnerability and Financial Literacy: Addressing Complexities
Outside of this recent regulation, Natalie believes another crucial area that requires focus is vulnerability.
“It’s such a broad and complex topic and with the cost-of-living crisis coming through, and with Consumer Duty, we really need to think about how we ensure that our journeys are designed so that vulnerable customers are also getting good outcomes,” stresses Natalie. “This needs to be front of mind for everyone.
“When it’s such a complex topic, it’s part of the cultural and education aspect as well, so that people within each of their respective roles actually know how they can help vulnerable customers, and the different aspects of vulnerability as well.”
Financial literacy also plays a critical role in the customer journey. With the average reading age in the UK at nine-years-old and almost three quarters of the adult population falling below the financial literacy benchmark, banks need to create clear, transparent journeys that guide customers towards informed decisions.
“I think this is an area where financial services really need to be focussing on how they can support their customer base,” offers Natalie. “How are you actually setting up your customers for success by creating journeys that have good, positive friction, are clear and transparent and actually are supporting them in making decisions that help them create good outcomes for themselves.”
Digital Experiences: Balancing Human Touch and Technology
As digital services become increasingly prominent, balancing them with the human touch remains crucial. Natalie highlights the importance of designing journeys that integrate human support at key moments where customers need it most. This could involve offering phone or branch assistance for complex issues while streamlining routine tasks through digital channels.
“As we move more and more towards digital experience, and the human touch becomes sort of less ingrained in the day-to-day – especially in banking where you’ve got branch closures – the digital challenges are becoming more and more prominent,” explains Natalie.
Personalisation: Understanding and Serving Individual Needs
Looking ahead, Natalie sees personalisation as a major trend in customer experience. By leveraging data effectively, banks can gain a deeper understanding of individual customer needs and tailor experiences accordingly. This personalised approach becomes even more relevant when catering to the specific requirements of vulnerable individuals.
“It’s not new, but I think looking at how you can understand your customer better and create more personalised experiences, I think it’s something that is quite exciting,” says Natalie. “When you think about vulnerability and things like that, how are we actually able to create and craft better experiences based on an individual customer’s needs? It is something that I’m really looking forward to doing.”
Customer Experience: The Importance of Understanding
As opportunities to create positive customer experiences and customer journeys expand, understanding and learning in this area is important for everyone in the financial services industry.
At Banking Transformation Summit 2024, taking place in London on the 19th and 20th of June alongside Wealth Management Transformation Summit 2024, Natalie will delve deeper into this topic, addressing these complexities and how institutions can take a holistic approach, offering valuable insights and discussions on navigating the evolving customer experience landscape.
“I think customer connections are so important, and obviously from a cultural perspective: when people are working at a customer-centric organisation, it really empowers people and makes people feel good about the work that they’re doing, which is important,” highlights Natalie. “I think also from a commercial perspective, the more customer-centric your organisation is going to be, the more competitive you’re able to be, and so it’s something that everyone needs to know how to do.”
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