Omni-channel Key to Valued Customer Experiences in Financial Services

Forrester’s 2018 Customer Experience Index (CX Index) clearly indicates that companies are struggling to create valuable connections with customers. The inability to create emotional attachment and delivering better customer experiences is a struggle that can create real financial risk for companies, even despite a strong economic climate.

In the financial services industry, a critical component to ensuring better customer experiences is clearly understanding expectations and the unique drivers that impact your brand. The rapid shifts in consumer behaviors and expectations presents real challenge for financial services providers to reexamine the customer experiences they deliver.

Accenture conducted a study in 2017 of nearly 33,000 banking, insurance and investment advisory services customers. What emerged was clear insight about the role of digital interaction and how customers expect to engage with financial providers. The study indicates that providers who deliver on this expectation while maintaining traditional values of trust and service will be best positioned to thrive. 

Delivering an Omni-channel Experience

Retail and hospitality brands have excelled in delivering highly-valued experiences through Omni-channel strategies and have shaped consumers perception and expectations of brands with whom they engage. The financial services industry, whether it’s banking, life insurance or retirement services, is no exception. Consumers have grown to expect their financial providers to offer a level of effortless service similar to that of companies like Amazon, including greater value for their money. They insist on convenient, user-friendly Omni-channel experiences, with each touchpoint consistent and complementary, whether they choose to connect via a smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer.
While multichannel communications is about distribution of information through multiple, independent channels, Omni-channel goes further by supporting an individual’s preferred means of communicating through an integrated, seamless experience across multiple channels and devices. This interconnectivity enables financial services brands to tailor their offerings to the individual and demonstrates a high level of empathy.

Benefits to the Brand

The advantage to financial services brands who make a customer-centric Omni-channel communications a priority is significant.
Studies show that companies with strong Omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain, on average, 89% of their customers, compared to less than 33% for companies with weak Omni-channel engagement. They also see a 9.5% year-over-year increases in annual revenue. 
Aside from the assurance of providing a valuable customer experience, they also realize top-line growth and reduce cost of operations.
For example, financial institutions can save millions when communications to plan participants, from enrollment kits to 401k statements to confirmation notices and letters, which are traditionally printed and mailed, are distributed electronically. Omni-channel solutions also enable organizations to leverage participant preferences to reduce costs. Insight into an individual’s wants and needs allows providers to reduce dependency on service and support resources. Proactive reminders and notifications, delivered based on an individual's preferences, can reduce the number of issues they encounter, and the resources required to service such issues. 

How to Get There From Here

Financial services providers can’t expect to shift from single or multi-channel communications to Omni-channel in short order. Delivering a valuable Omni-channel experience must begin with a clear understanding of the customer journey and how best to fulfill to an individual’s preferences. Without this clarity, organizations risk misplaced resources and a customer experience that fails to satisfy.
"Though brands are catching on to the fact that high quality customer experience (CX) correlates with business growth, it's alarming that progress on improving CX has stalled for the third year in a row," Forrester Chief Research and Product Officer Cliff Condon said. "It proves that many companies don't fully understand what matters most to their customers, but to achieve CX success, they must discover and focus on those drivers first.
The Accenture study mentioned above revealed some very clear directives to the financial services industry:

  1. Accept that Customers are In Control. Gone are the days when financial services providers controlled the customer relationship. While brand loyalty continues to decline rapidly, especially among the digitally active younger generations, financial providers must demonstrate their commitment to delivering exceptional service. This new value proposition must include providing customers with the increased control they demand and doing so cost effectively in order to satisfy shareholders’ desire for healthy returns.
  2. Create New Opportunities with Data. It’s reported that by 2020 there will be 20 times more usable data than today. Financial services providers must capitalize on the growing trend of consumers’ increased willingness to share their personal data. Access to data is critical to ensuring more personalized customer interactions that add value, reinforce relationships, and reveal timely opportunities for cross-selling. 
  3. Consider Your Platform Approach. Customers spend an increased amount of time on digital platforms, such as those provided by Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple). Financial services providers should take advantage of digital innovation by reaching these customers where they are and when relevant life events present buying opportunities.

Creating an effective and valued Omni-channel customer experience requires that financial services organizations address some significant challenges head on. But by embracing the commitment required to clearly understand the customer journey, giving consumers options and incorporating a human touch that shows empathy will position these organizations for success.

O’Neil Digital Solutions offer a complete Omni-channel solutions for the financial services industry, enabling creation, management and delivery of personalized documents, anywhere your audience wants to receive them — via mobile, web, email or print. For more information, visit us at www.oneildigitalsolutions.com.

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