Financial Sector Customer Experience – the state of the Nation

Posted by thecxadmin on 08/03/2016

eursoThe customer has suffered badly in the bank’s scramble to drastically cut expenses during the recession. They despair at terms of contract that they can’t understand and bristle at slow handling of complaints. This, along with legislation changes and accusations to the industry, has shaken customer confidence. Banks are themselves in the process of getting to grips with the tightened regulatory reins which continually pull them back.

They are only now coming up for air and making efforts to engage with customers. Most banks have recently engaged dedicated Customer Experience personnel responsible for driving and ensuring consistency of experiences across every touchpoint. But many find this a hugely challenging feat especially as banks along with so many other industries are on a major learning curve when it comes to ‘what is customer experience’ and ‘how do we provide great experiences for our customers’. To a certain extent it’s a case of learning on the job.

They must become experts in omni channel seamless Customer Experience (CX) and according to the CXi National Customer Experience Survey 2015 they are very far from achieving this. However, as the pain of negative customer feedback and customer loss takes effect we expect to see dramatic internal changes, designed to make interaction far more straightforward.


Globally, the financial services sector has made great strides with their CX offering. They differentiate themselves by connecting and delighting their customers with great service. In fact, the financial services sector has delivered the world’s best CX performers. The below chart demonstrates that financial services in Ireland are trailing behind their UK counterparts and are way behind American peers.

Let’s take a look at how the Irish financial sector compared with the top UK and USA performers in the 2015 CX surveys.
As shown here there is much room for progress for our financial services. This is especially true for the large banks. These results signal a call to action, a requirement for a fundamental change in direction. Ultimately, this requires a business model that consistently puts the customer at the heart of all activities and decisions. Banks are often focused on accounting practices, and for the customer voice to be effective, customer experience data should be examined alongside financial metrics within the business.

By contrast the Credit Unions and Rabo Direct stand out within the sector. They are highly rated by the Irish public and larger banks can learn from them. Credit Unions hands on approach and their dedication to be of real help to members is much appreciated by those who might otherwise be turned away from large banks looking for a return on investment. Rabo Direct is lauded for a passionate and personal customer first approach to customer care which is evident in everything they do, from their tone of voice to their rejection of IVR. A real person answers the phone every time a customer calls.


Obstacle for most banks include a range of internal, cultural and structural challenges which need to be overcome if they are to be successful. Irish financial institutions perform especially poorly when it comes to empathising with customers. In an industry where online or machine touchpoints are increasingly the norm, making every human interaction positively impactful is very important. This is an area where there is great scope for improvement and clued in banks who make this a reality will win customers. On a more fundamental level, Irish banks can join their American counterparts in empowering staff to fix problems there and then; currently in Ireland this is seldom the case. Offering additional complementary services would go one step further in making customers feel valued and cared for.


Consider that a bank ranks 2nd in the UK top 100 league table. First Direct make it easy for customers to do what they need to do through 24 hour online engagement. They employ people who want to serve the customer and care about doing a good job; they train them intensely; and then empowers them to handle and resolve any issues brought to them by a customer. USAA Federal Savings Bank is the 5th largest in the US and the world’s top performing customer experience brand in any sector. They provide many additional services to make customer’s lives easier and not just when it comes to banking! Among many personalised, digital innovations, they offer a unique car finder app with discounts from various dealers and also an app for initiating motor insurance claims. In the case of an accident, you can use your phone to take photos of the scene, dictate what you think happened and the phone is paged for the relevant GPS and weather conditions.


On a positive note, Irish Financial Institutions will find it easier to climb the league table more rapidly than any other sector. Internationally, the financial sector is one of the fastest improving with banks differentiating via CX offerings rather than competing on value or new product offerings. The fact that the financial sector has delivered the world’s best CX performers bodes well for Irish financial institutions.