Banks face barriers to growth, like market instabilities that increase their operating costs and decrease their profits. Meanwhile, the quality of their service can be compromised, directly impacting their customers' experience. This last concept is essential for people: why choose one bank over another? Which products or services do I prefer to acquire from this financial institution and another? What is the value that each one offers me?
In this article, we will understand why working on the customer experience allows us to have operational resilience, improve the public's perception of our business, increase productivity and improve the efficiency of banks. All this through a better understanding of our customers and our internal processes.
- Processes and customer experience
- How can banks benefit from process management?
- What are the main challenges in this industry?
- Where to start?
- What benefits can banks expect?
- Use cases
Processes and customer experience
Process management is a way of structuring the organization according to the needs and objectives of internal and external customers. Thanks to this, the definition of strategies, the measurement of goals, and the analysis of the organization become simple tasks that favor the improvement and control of the business.
Consequently, an improvement in the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of services is achieved, offering a better customer experience, which translates into an increase in sales, retention, and brand reputation.
How can banks benefit from process management?
The banking industry can benefit from this by reducing obstacles that negatively affect users, such as response times and poor communication; this will improve customer satisfaction and create greater security and trust.
To this end, banks must thoroughly understand their customers, operations, and the market. Fortunately, today there are methodologies and tools focused on these objectives.
What are the main challenges in this industry?
Competition and globalization have a significant effect on people, generating high expectations. We have all had good and bad experiences with a product or service and ordinary and extraordinary experiences. For this reason, we know why we prefer one brand over another, and the same thing happens to us when looking for a financial institution. So what are the barriers that can prevent banks from delivering that memorable experience?
A typical pattern in this sector is the tendency to protect traditional services. There are undoubtedly products that will not disappear; however, how they are offered can change how the customer perceives their value. Controlled technology infrastructure along the value chain can be one of the biggest pains. It is not just about delivering a product but also about how we inform, distribute, generate and manage it.
Empathizing with our customers
Knowledge about the reality and context surrounding our customers is indispensable. Consumption patterns vary according to time, location, age, gender, and even people's education. New generations, for example, have an innate understanding of technology and high expectations of digital experiences. If our banking systems are compatible with today's technological tools, it will be easier for us to live up to these expectations.
Defining customized processes
Another major challenge is the lack of standardization of processes and a large number of manual tasks. While this is common in all industries, managing sensitive customer information and how we solve their problems or improve their quality of life significantly impacts how customers perceive their banks.
If we do not have defined sequences of activities in a visual and easy-to-understand format, we cannot identify weak points, it is more difficult to automate, and we will not be able to guarantee the effectiveness of a transition to the digital world. In addition, we will certainly not have control over time-consuming processes, bottleneck tasks, and limited service options.
For this reason, it is important to understand the customer journey and how you should build the processes to help them complete their tasks.
On the other hand, the experience and efforts of other banks pose a threat to those who fail to understand the market and adapt to change. Additionally, the emergence of technology trends such as Fintech, which provide products or services such as digital payments, personal finance management, consulting and marketing platforms, credit granting, foreign exchange, and lending, to name a few; is also a reason to question the way we deliver value to our customers.
The value proposition is that differentiator that makes a customer prefer one company over another. There are different types of value propositions, from innovation, performance improvement, and customization, to branding, accessibility, and convenience. Defining our value proposition under a customer-centric methodology can help us design better products and services by considering the frustrations and benefits expected by those who seek it.
>>Why generate a digital value proposition?<<
We can better define our business model with a specified value proposition in a visual format that is easy to understand and communicate. A business model is an organizational structure that ensures the value proposition is technically feasible, economically viable, and desirable to customers. So it helps us to identify the key channels, processes, and resources that will benefit the customer experience. So, defining a suitable business model can help us combat rising capital costs, falling interest rates, or declining return on equity while ensuring that customers receive the products and services they require at the right time and through the right channel.
Where to start?
According to an article published in May 2022 by DataProt, during the six months before its publication, 79% of smartphone owners in the United States used their devices to make purchases. I have heard people from the new generation say that banking websites "are for dinosaurs." Many prefer to avoid email and choose media like WhatsApp or social networks like Instagram and TikTok to view content.
Soon, these generations will have to open student bank accounts, and some will start working; this is what we mean by understanding our customers; a better knowledge of how they learn, what their motivation is, their current situation, and their goals, gives a north for the definition of action plans, redesign of physical and digital channels, continuous process improvement projects and improvement of products and services. So, what are the first steps to follow?
Knowing our customers
To define a strategy, we must first give it a focus. Suppose we want to focus our operations on improving efficiency, reducing costs, and increasing the bank's reputation. In that case, we first need to understand what we do that generates value for the customer and what does not.
We recommend profiling consumer types through methodologies such as Personas, which are semi-fictional representations of ideal customers. In a visual format, this tool allows us to have a series of assumptions of the demographic and psychographic elements that identify them, in addition to introducing attitudinal components that enable us to generate empathy.
Investing resources to carry out constant research allows us to keep up to date with their demands and detect changes in demographic patterns; this makes it easier to segment customers and study them to personalize services and products.
Understanding the Customer Journey
Each type of customer has its own needs. A student is not looking to acquire an account to open a business, and a worker is not necessarily looking for an investor account. By understanding the customer types, we can design acquisition processes tailored to each; this identifies the moments of truth, i.e., the most important touchpoints, with which we can know where the most value is generated and personalize the experience.
In addition, this serves as a map of the work teams, tools, and means necessary to meet the objectives of each customer at each stage of their Journey, making opportunities for improvement visible.
>>Welcome aboard: Customer Journey (CX)<<
Improve and automate processes
Identifying bottlenecks is more difficult if we are not clear about the flow of information and work. Standardization means having a step-by-step guide to the tasks we need to do to meet an objective. If we do not have a process diagram and have not defined the sequence, we cannot understand where the errors that cause reprocesses and backlogs come from.
By having a defined process, we can measure productivity and efficiency, identifying the weak points that need to be improved. By analyzing them, we can propose solutions that order activities, eliminate unnecessary tasks, reassign personnel according to workloads and capabilities, and, most importantly, we can generate automation.
If a disorderly process is automated, the disorder will be automated, so it is essential first to define, measure and analyze the processes to improve them. With this, the best tools and platforms can be identified to develop integrated information systems that automate processes. Finally, metrics and indicators are established to give us control. This way, we can streamline operations, offering faster, simpler, and error-free services that will improve customer perception of our quality.
Some examples of what can be automated in banks are as follows:
- Investment management
- Bank transfers
- Cash operations
- Small business loans (SME)
- Mortgage loans
- Commercial loans
- Consumer loans
- Credit administration
- Contact Center
- Accounts Payable
- Financial planning and analysis
- Compliance and risk management
I am providing you this link to explore what has been working in the industry regarding the automation of banking processes.
What benefits can banks expect?
When undertaking a customer experience improvement, digital transformation, and continuous improvement project, there are impacts on business strategy, management, and operations. Let's group some benefits into these categories.
- Risks can be identified so management plans can be defined and negative impacts on the bank can be reduced.
- It begins to measure and monitor the performance of processes, facilitating decision-making that brings the bank closer to meeting its goals.
- Improves the understanding and implementation of products and services.
- Gives a better overview to generate effective and profitable business strategies.
- Improve the relationship with clients, increasing the likelihood that they will want to purchase additional products or services with their trusted bank, which could be understood as winning clients to the market.
- Staff requirements are assessed and managed, with roles and responsibilities correctly defined. In our experience, even though there are people designated to fulfill specific functions, the assignment is sometimes unclear, which delays problem-solving.
- Organizational culture is better managed by developing a philosophy of continuous improvement, creating information gathering and analysis processes that use the voice of the customer (internal and external) to identify blind pain points that affect the experience.
- Unnecessary documents, delays, human error, duplicated tasks, inefficient information flows, and ambiguity of functions are eliminated.
- Improved understanding of processes, eliminating legacy processes that involve more work and do not add value, reducing cycle times, which impacts costs, increases productivity, and improves resource efficiency.
- It automates. It is humanly impossible to manage several tasks simultaneously, even less so during peak business hours, so it is easier to scale processes. In addition, this makes it possible to generate documentation instantly according to what is required, preparing the bank for audits and reducing the risk of non-compliance.
- Increases service availability.
- Improves the recognition of the bank and increases the perception of quality.
- Improves internal and external customer experience.
- Allows the bank to adapt to changes, learn from them, and grow while facing obstacles.
- Facilitates staff training, reduces the learning curve, and improves overall business knowledge.
To better detail what can be done in a bank, some success stories on the Internet document the impacts of developing experience improvement projects.
An example is the study Emerald Insight published regarding inefficiencies in credit departments. Through process definition and mapping, they identified the sources of backlogs that took eight to nine days to complete applications, account creation, and card issuance. Thanks to redesigning their processes, they reduced the cycle time by half, taking advantage of the available resource and reallocating it, obtaining, as a consequence, an improvement in customer satisfaction regarding these services.
On the other hand, Fiserv published an article showing the case of Howard Bank. This business wanted to increase the contact time with customers during the account opening process, for which they first had to clean up their processes. By defining, analyzing, and improving them, the staff had more time to talk to customers, understand their needs in detail, and improve their services. Howard Bank reduced account opening time to one hour and twenty minutes by reducing manual work and automation; this improved their productivity and allowed for easy training of new staff. Another consequence was the ability to go deeper into the technological tools that employees were using, so they could take better advantage of them by engaging customers more.
AI Multiple also published an article with 55 success stories applied in various industries. A specific example is VTB Bank in Russia, where a project to improve loan processes achieved results such as reducing processing time by 30%, increasing the number of accounts handled on time from 68% to 98%, uncovering employee training needs, quadrupling the efficiency of processing time and improving customer satisfaction.
Customer experience is a factor that makes a difference in competitive advantage. Banks need to understand better the needs of each type of consumer to strategize, innovate and grow. However, they also need to study their internal health, clean up processes and reduce all the obstacles that divert attention from strategic business objectives. Designing better processes and systems and using your resources and tools can generate savings, service quality, and customer satisfaction. All this increases your operational resilience and ensures future sustainability.