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5 ways digital transformation in financial services drives better customer experience

11 minutes

Outstanding customer experience has become imperative for financial services. A whopping 85% of financial services professionals believe that responding to customer expectations faster is a must for business success. Moreover, good customer service is the most highly valued attribute in the banking sector by consumers, according to a survey by Forrester Research.


Increasingly, customer experience is moving to the digital realm, and digital transformation becomes a prerequisite for outstanding customer service.


It makes sense that when industry professionals were asked about their top strategic priorities for 2021, improving the customer experience came in second only to focusing on digital transformation.


Despite the pronounced importance of digital customer experience,  a recent Digital Banking Report, Improving the Customer Experience, found that only 37% of organizations having a formal customer experience plan in place. 


This apparent disparity between what executives are planning and digital reality creates a situation where customers are often left disappointed with the digital service they receive. 


To make matters worse, today's consumers judge their banking experiences not only compared to those delivered by other players in the sector (both traditional and digital-first banks) but also to services offered by tech giants like Google and Amazon.


Looking at the major customer experience trends for 2021, it is clear that the pandemic has accelerated existing trends and impacted customer expectations. A combination of digital, economic, and social changes we have seen in the past 12 months has changed customer expectations.  The one thing is clear: The importance of positive customer experiences has never been greater. 


5 attributes of outstanding digital customer experience

The good news is that by improving customer experience, the organization is likely to boost customer satisfaction, increase sales, expand customer relationships, increase retention, and positively impact the bottom line.


One reason for the apparent disparity between the ambitious digital transformation plans and the digital reality is that customer experience objectives in financial services often overly focused on internal benefits, failing to look outward. This includes focusing on cost-cutting and internal efficiency rather than prioritizing customer benefits like simplicity, ease, and responsiveness.


Many financial services organizations fail to grasp the essence of customer experience, failing to prioritize improvements in how they engage and interact with their customers. 


To meet the modern consumer's expectations, financial service organizations must adjust how they approach digital customer experience, shifting it from a fringe effort into a central strategic imperative. 

Multi-channel is the new normal

Today's consumers no longer distinguish between digital and offline engagement. They interact with financial institutions through multiple touchpoints throughout their digital customer journey. 


These touchpoints may change over time based on where a customer is and what else they may be doing. No matter the channel, the customer expects a consistent brand experience and the same availability of services: online, mobile, in-person, via call center, or even using a video channel or zoom calls. 


It doesn't matter what channel the consumer interacts with you at a particular point in time - they will expect a consistent brand experience delivered in real-time. Financial services organizations, such as banks and credit unions, must adapt to this expectation of the digital customer journey's uniformity.


Personalization is key to digital experience in 2021

Just knowing your customer is no longer enough. Customers expect brands not to hoard their data but to use it wisely. 


The expectation is that customers will receive a personalized and improved experience in exchange for giving the brand their personal information.  Think Amazon's recommendation engine or Netflix's intelligent viewing algorithm but for financial service products. If this exchange is not honored, customers will notice.


This new expectation for hyper-personalized experience requires a significant transformation of current internal processes that are still lagging on delivering real-time adjustments to the customer journey. 


Financial service organizations must find ways to utilize the information from past interactions and find ways to bring together internal and external insights to customize the customer's experience in real-time. 


Tracking past customer behavior is a good start. Still, proactive personalization requires a capability to optimize the customer's journey based on customer behavior in real-time and external data from the market. 


This can only be achieved by ensuring that the information from back-end legacy systems cohesively collaborates with front-end systems.


Digital journeys with eSignatures are the expectation

Digital transformation solutions require digitizing the entire customer experience, bringing remote servicing and accessibility to customers on all available channels.


Digitizing only a part of your processes (for example, having digital quoting or onboarding products) is no longer enough. Customers expect a digital, seamless journey that encompasses their entire interaction with your brand.


In financial services, in particular, the disparity between customer expectations and the reality is especially apparent when it comes to paperwork. Financial institutions require collecting customer data, attachments, and signatures to drive core business processes, including account openings, KYC, policy renewals, claims, personal detail updates, and more.


The paperwork issue hasn't truly been tackled yet, and the contrast between the digital expectations and the reality of paperwork is especially stark. In many organizations, customers are still expected to fill in paper forms, clunky PDFs, or deal with subpar and dated customer portals.


When it comes to delivering outstanding experiences - consistency is key.

Financial service organizations must enhance the customer journey so that every touchpoint with the customer delivers a consistent, frictionless, and personalized customer experience. Transforming paperwork into digital journeys with eSignatures is an excellent place to start.

Validate data at the point of entry to ensure data integrity

The quality of data entering your internal systems directly correlates to the quality of customer service an organization can deliver. 


Digital analytics can help organizations spot new trends and identify new customer behavior patterns. It also helps optimize customer-facing processes to deliver higher levels of satisfaction that boost the bottom line.


The more detailed and accurate the data, the more effective the optimization process.


For this reason, customer data from sales, marketing, and service teams should be collected in digital-native format, validated at the point of entry and logged automatically, and shared in real-time for a unified view of customers across all departments.


Analyze and optimize, then repeat

The key is not to hoard customer information but to utilize the insights you collect to continuously demonstrate to the customer that you are anticipating their needs.


One of the biggest challenges facing financial services is effectively utilizing data analytics and technology to achieve a complete customer view.


The complex IT infrastructure of most banking and financial businesses makes achieving a 360-degree view a significant challenge. The inflexible legacy systems are often a major obstacle when it comes to creating an automated and engaging customer experience. Many core systems were built long before such concepts as CX even existed, and therefore it is difficult to interface those systems with modern tools and technologies.


According to Accenture, the complexity of the current state of legacy environments is the most significant barrier to banks' ability to drive digital transformation.


A digital customer journey platform that integrates with existing legacy systems can be truly transformational, connecting rigid but reliable legacy systems to modern digital services. 


Digital transformation boosts customer experience

The impact of a negative experience can be devastating. According to PWC, one-third of consumers will walk away from a brand they love after a single negative experience. 


Your customers have countless options at their fingertips. If your organization’s digital experience doesn't immediately appeal to them, they will switch to another option at lightning speed. According to recent research, 29% of mobile users will switch to another app or website if they fail to find what they are looking for within three seconds. 


Anything but top-notch experience costs you, customers, directly impacting the bottom line. 


Simply going digital is no longer enough. You need to offer the best-of-breed experience or risk losing customers. With so many digital products and services available in the financial sector, consumers don't have patience for out-of-date digital portals fraught with friction and bad UX.


Using a digital experience platform to boost CX in financial services

87% of financial services firms view digital transformation as a significant strategic challenge. Maintaining top-notch digital portals requires substantial resources that many organizations lack.


In the financial services industry, digital journey platforms enable organizations to:


  • Accelerate transformation by leveraging platform technologies
  • Adding agility to legacy systems with a layer of agile, customer-centric applications built for customer experience
  • Improve customer experience and deliver best-in-breed digital experiences without lengthy development
  • Digital journey builders can empower employees to serve the customer better and build agility into all your processes and workflows.


Utilizing a digital journey builder to transform the digital customer experience helps organizations quickly launch outstanding customer-facing applications. 


It is impossible to achieve all digital transformation goals or overhaul your entire digital customer experience overnight. The best strategy is to identify the right tools, such as digital journey builders and platforms, that will help you get there faster, delivering the kind of experience your customers expect.

Tal Daskal

Tal Daskal is the CEO and co-founder at EasySend. Tal is an expert on all things digital transformation in banking and insurance and is a passionate advocate for the paradigm shift towards no-code application development in the financial sector.