Financial institutions have invested a ton of money into new technologies over the past few years. Chatbots, interactive teller machines (ITMs), digital banking improvements, AI, and machine learning have all been brought into the fold to help give banks a competitive edge.
But there’s a downside to accelerating technology so quickly. Customer experience and customer trust have both dipped since digital entered the spotlight.
It seems some financial institutions have lost sight of the key to attracting and retaining customers: easy access to real people for financial advice. In fact, research has shown that FIs who have more facetime with their customers report better satisfaction scores, retention rates, and a more positive growth outlook.
We surveyed more than 270 financial institutions and uncovered four key trends that industry leaders are using to create better connections between staff and customers—and ultimately fuel long-term growth.
1. More connections mean better outcomes
Digital experiences help streamline a number of customer activities, but there are still some circumstances under which customers prefer to connect with an advisor directly such as opening a new account, learning more about a new product, applying for a loan, or getting financial advice.
That’s why many FIs are starting to think about their branches as “advice centers” where customers can connect for personalized financial advice. And these one-on-one connections pay off not only for the customer, but for FIs too.
Our research has shown those that host at least 125 appointments per month are more likely to report best-in-class satisfaction scores and high satisfaction with their retention rates. Plus, they’re more optimistic that they’ll grow assets in the year ahead. Making it clear that ensuring your team is available to meet with clientele, whether in person or online, has positive effects on client satisfaction and institutional performance.
2. Virtual connections are here to stay
While virtual meetings peaked during the pandemic, they’ve proven to remain a preferred mode of connection for many customers today. Nearly half of consumers plan to keep talking to their financial advisors over video, with 36% saying they prefer it over meeting in person.
FIs that have adjusted their service delivery model to make room for virtual meetings are seeing big benefits. These banks and credit unions are more likely to report best-in-class customer satisfaction and retention scores. They’ve reported big productivity gains too. Advisors who can deliver remote services have been shown to handle more appointments, more efficiently since they do not need to travel between locations to serve customers. Plus, they’re less likely to deal with no-shows since customers can attend from anywhere.
All in all, offering an alternative way to meet leads to a more positive growth outlook for the year ahead, giving those who offer virtual meetings a competitive advantage in a crowded market.
3. Better insights lead to better experiences
Time and time again, hybrid experiences outperform digital-only or physical-only experiences because they give customers the flexibility to do things the way that works best for them.
Even so, without the right information at hand, it can be challenging to know how your customers prefer to connect. Some may prefer to meet with your team in-branch for a loan application, but prefer to open a new account online. This is where tracking comes in. Leading FIs are closely tracking a mix of metrics related to customer experience, staff performance, and overall revenue outcomes. They’re also using these insights to understand performance across staff and channels to find the most efficient ways to deliver a great experience.
FIs who are very satisfied with their ability to track analytics are more likely to have best-in-class customer satisfaction scores, proving better insights lead to better experiences. They’re also more likely to be very satisfied with their staff’s overall efficiency and capacity to handle appointments since they have better insights into performance.
4. Staff experience is as important as customer experience
After an interaction, customers are more likely to remember how they felt more often than the actual outcomes achieved. In other words, the one-on-one time they spend with your staff is critical to long-term loyalty.
It’s a two-way street; if staff aren’t prepared for customer conversations, it can result in wasted time, unnecessary follow-ups, and a poor overall experience. If they know who is visiting them and what they need help with, they can prepare options to discuss and necessary paperwork before the customer arrives. Leading FIs are not only looking for ways to reduce friction for their customers; they’re also looking to reduce friction for their staff.
Improving employee efficiency and capacity is a must. FIs who are very satisfied with these metrics were more likely to report best-in-class customer satisfaction scores. They’re also more likely to have a more optimistic growth outlook for the year ahead, and higher share of wallet.
Leaders should make it clear that productive employees can have a big impact on the bottom line. They should also clearly define what high efficiency and capacity look like so that employees have a concrete goal to work towards.
Regardless of the channel, connecting needs to be seamless
Today, there are more ways to connect than ever. Whether a customer is reaching out digitally, calling a contact center, or walking into the branch, FIs will have to think through how these experiences can be connected and frictionless to help customers find the fastest way to have their questions answered.
Through our research we found that top-performing FIs share a few things in common:
- More face time with customers
- Smooth experiences, both on and offline
- Many options for customers to get in touch
- A pulse on customer preferences
- Efficient staff who can handle the needs of their customers
When customers and staff can connect seamlessly, everyone wins. Revenue increases, as does retention and wallet share.
To learn more about how FI leaders are creating better connections, read Benchmark Report: Using 1:1 Connections To Unlock Growth for Financial Institution