Financial industry executives are becoming increasingly aware of the role a quality customer experience has on their bottom line. Gone are the days when customer service could almost be treated as an afterthought. More competition and less loyalty mean financial institutions have to work harder to retain customers, and that means providing a quality experience, one more tailored to individual needs.
But before services can be tailored, financial institutions need to know what those needs and preferences are, Ed Burek explained. Mr. Burek is the director of SiteSpect, a company that works with digital businesses to create a customer experience that improves revenues, reduces costs and mitigates risk.
Those three factors are important and need to be clearly measure so the client can determine their return on investment. That means the client has to conduct detailed testing of their website and mobile capabilities if it truly wishes to optimize the omnichannel customer experience. SiteSpect assists by delivering more relevant, interesting and personalized content across all channels, optimizing all functionalities including new feature releases, search algorithms, pricing and shipping, process flows and site redesigns, and generating actionable insights into customer behaviors and patterns in real time.
Mr. Burek said SiteSpect can provide valuable services to banks who are trying be the disrupters instead of the disrupted.
“Banks have become more comfortable with technology over the last 15 years. We allow them to be disrupters with a high degree of risk mitigation.”
One thing most banks haven’t gotten right is ensuring everyone is on the same technological page, Mr. Burek said. While every CEO says they are growth oriented and want to disrupt rather than be disrupted themselves, those responsible for its implementation do not always buy in. Some are married their own philosophies and solutions, while others are trying to keep a muddled system of patches together. That is why being able to quantify the effects of both acting and failing to act can have on a company’s revenues are so important, Mr. Burek said.
Going digital, while a necessary step for all financial institutions, is also risky, as the bank simply does not open a canned solution and flick the switch. They have to understand their customer preferences and needs, and that is best done through testing, Mr. Burek said.
As an institution develops a digital strategy, it can be broken down into components. SiteSpect can test the impact of one move on the customer experience Mr. Burek said, while likening it to a controlled burn. Instead of unleashing an innovation into the marketplace, the institution can know in advance how it is received and what its impacts are on different segments. Take the good parts and move on while scrapping the bad ones.
That answers a problem banks have long faced, namely how to test the impact of iterations, Mr. Burek said. But that is the way the industry is headed in the age of innovation. Silicon Valley companies were born in an environment of idea, act, test, iterate and repeat. Technology is developing so fast that by the time someone thinks they have developed the perfect product or service it may already be obsolete.
Interactive voice response technology provides a timely example, Mr. Burek said. Customers contact a bank’s call center for many different reasons, with each being able to be tested and refined to provide an optimal experience. The nature of each query type, its frequency, and the impact of different responses can be measured and continually refined, as can the interaction between call center staff and the technology itself.
That helps eliminate the effect of personal bias, which, after fear of change is the biggest problem banks must deal with, Mr. Burek said. It may be a dominant personality pushing their preference, or it may be different departments operating in silos that compete against each other instead of complementing them.
“There’ll be different versions of the truth for each silo,” Mr.Burek said.
SiteSpect helps banks consider the customer journey across all points, Mr. Burek said. Many companies offer solutions that do the same thing, but only for a single section of the customer experience. Each has a different system and view of the customer relationship. As good as some may be they can still be in conflict with each other.
Testing across the system can help a company prioritize where to concentrate their investment, Mr. Burek explained. The mainframe may be working fine, so the challenge becomes how to build the customer experience on top of it, for example. As more customers choose a mobile experience testing can reveal the best processes so the right outcomes can be provided.
“We allow companies to disrupt themselves with a safety net,” Mr. Burek said. “We consistently marry outcomes and expectations while constantly measuring those.
“If it’s not consistent, by the time something goes wrong you’ll be asking what happened.”