Online Retail Banking Customer Experience: The Road Ahead

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Online customer experience is set to become bigger and better
Banks have come a long way from brick and
mortar structures to the realms of the Internet.
So what’s next in their journey?

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Online Retail Banking Customer Experience: The Road Ahead

  1. 1. Online Retail Banking Customer Experience: The Road AheadUniversal Banking Solution System Integration Consulting Business Process Outsourcing
  2. 2. Customer experience is a key differentiator other channel whose importance cannot bein banking understated, and that is the branch.In recent years, customer experience has In a recent global study of retail banking,caught the imagination of banking, as it reinvents respondents ranked the branch and the Internetitself from a utility business to one that is based as the most important channels. Over the years,on service and enduring relationships. This is a banks have tried to move customers away fromfar cry from the banking scenario of 15 to 20 the branch towards a number of self-serviceyears ago, when the branch was the only channels, even offering them incentives to doavailable channel and pricing, the sole plank of so. Despite these attempts, the branch remainsdifferentiation. With products, prices and even the channel of choice for a significant proportionchannels becoming uniform, the only way that of customers. There are several reasons forone bank can differentiate itself from the this, not the least of which is psychologicalothers while trying to woo customers and retain comfort. The physical environs of the branchthem is by offering superior and innovative and the availability of staff and advisors inspireservice – which forms the backbone of positive trust and confidence in banking customers.customer experience. When they walk into a branch, they are sure of finding someone to attend to their queries; theyThere are several definitions of customer take service for granted. This feeling ofexperience, and as many dimensions. Academic, reassurance is so important to them that theyconsulting and business organizations including don’t mind taking the trouble of visiting thebanks have evolved frameworks to formalize branch or waiting in line to be served.the process of improving customer experience.Line managers tasked with implementing the Not surprisingly, another recent study showedsame have added their insights, gathered over that customer engagement in retail banking – ayears of experience. The objective of this paper major determinant of quality of experience – wasis not to revisit or add to those excellent driven more by emotional, rather than functionalframeworks, but rather to explore where the factors. At the top of this list was customers’banking industry is headed in its attempt to need to be valued, followed by their perceptionenhance customer experience. of the engagement level of bank employees. Simply put, customers wanted bank employeesCustomers value the human element of the to show them that they valued their business,branch experience and when required, go the extra mile to fulfill their expectations.Internet banking has been around for quitesome time now and there is no doubt that it Another analysis said that retail bankinghas made banking a lot more efficient and brands must be emotionally aligned with theirsimple. Adoption of internet banking continues customers to win them over. This means thatto grow day by day. Research shows that the banks must try to understand their customers’number of transactions happening through the needs better by asking relevant questions,internet is expected to cross 33 billion by 2012. listening carefully and offering a sympathetic earThe number of online transactions is growing to genuine problems.at a rate of nearly 13%, much higher than thatfor any other channel. By 2013, banks expect Moving from the subject of drivers to barriers,nearly 20% of sales to be made through this past studies have repeatedly indicated thatchannel. Banking through the internet is definitely concern regarding security is one of the biggestmore affordable and there is a segment of obstacles to Internet banking adoption. Whilecustomers who prefer the convenience and easy this has certainly come down in recent yearsaccessibility that it offers. Personal financial with security systems becoming more robust,management tools have empowered customers the fact remains that people – even Internetand taught them to handle their finances banking users – are not at ease sharing sensitivethemselves. While all this is true, there is one financial information over a website, and Online Retail Banking Customer Experience: The Road Ahead
  3. 3. therefore restrict their activity to basic transactions. There are many ways that banks can improveAnother reason why customers don’t do more online customer experiencethrough Internet banking is that most banks don’toffer advisory services over this channel, further Owing to the progress in information andlimiting its role. On the other hand, the branch communication technology, it is now possible tohas always been the go-to option for customers bridge the gap between the branch experienceseeking to make a key financial decision and that provided online, easily. Banks can bringrequiring advisory input, such as availing a interactivity to their online channel by setting upmortgage or planning an investment portfolio. a video, audio or text chat facility to support Internet banking; they can also put expertThese facts explain why, despite the convenience financial advisors within the reach of customers,and accessibility of Internet banking and other anywhere, anytime, and thereby increase theironline channels, many customers still prefer confidence in the channel. Banks can applythe branch as a channel for banking. And so, analytics and set rules to provide contextualit would seem that replicating the branch help to customers who are facing difficulty withexperience through other channels such as the product applications and also proactively offerInternet, is a good strategy that would go a long chat services to customers who are likely toway in providing positive customer experience. abandon the product applications. Co-browsing,The good news is that banks can, with some where the customer can share his screen witheffort, replicate the branch experience – which a bank representative is one step further inhas been successful so far, and continues to interactivity and goes a long way in providingsustain – in other channels, including the Internet. quick help to customers. Blogs and online communities are becoming increasingly commonBringing the branch banking experience to on most banking sites. These enable customersother channels to interact with each other and share their opinion and concerns.But how is it possible to infuse the humanelement into channels that are self-service by That’s not all. Banks can leverage social mediadefinition? Also, how can banks recreate the to make Internet banking and other onlineexperience of banking in the physical world, channels even more interactive and personal.in the virtual one? And where should they Some have already started out on this path bystart, given that customer experience has so assigning an identifiable person to representmany dimensions? their institution on popular social networking sites, participate in various banking-relatedLet us clarify. When we talk of replicating a discussions, resolve queries and gather feedbackbranch-like experience, what we’re really firsthand. In a recent survey conducted amongfocusing on, is its one key principle, which is, that executives from top retail banks in EMEA, onlya customer facing a problem must not be left to 37% of the respondents said that they did notcope on his own. There are no dead-ends in have any presence in the social media.branch interaction to leave a customer feelinglost and helpless. Help is but a window away. It There are several examples of innovative stepsmust be the same online. taken by banks to encourage customers to move to the online channel and to improve the onlineThe ready availability of support, preferably in customer experience. A leading bank hasthe form of human assistance, is common to launched an ‘Assisted Internet Service’ whereinevery customer’s definition of good experience, the bank first asks the customers what activitywhereas most other elements are personal they want to carry out in the branch and offerspreferences, unique to the individual. Obviously, the help of trained staff to assist them to carry itIt is futile for banks to try to deliver the perfect out through internet banking instead. Manyexperience to each and every customer. Instead, banks incorporate scenario based video demosthey must aim to create an experience that will of products in their banking pages to make itbe received favorably by the most number. easily comprehensible for customers. Even the Online Retail Banking Customer Experience: The Road Ahead
  4. 4. process of applying for products has been made Advances in online gaming and virtual realitya lot simpler by intelligent systems which pull have opened up unimaginable possibilities for otherout the customers’ data, prefill application forms sectors seeking to create a more impactful andand provide instant quotes to customers. There lifelike experience outside the physicalare also banks which provide personal web world. From where banks stand today, it’s not aportals which allow the customers to access big leap to a future in which the entire branch isaccount information and to get queries answered replicated in the virtual realm to create theby sales and service personnel via a personal ultimate customer experience. This means thatweb portal. some day, not too far away, a customer should be able to log in to his bank’s portal to enter aA point to note is that it isn’t enough to create virtual environment replete with tellers, salesmemorable ‘islands of experience’ on different people, managers and advisors, just like in achannels. Today, a significant proportion of physical branch, ‘walk though’ its halls, ask forcustomers bank over multiple channels, at times assistance and complete a transaction, withouteven use more than one channel to fulfill a single missing out on any of the advantages of thetransaction; it is quite frustrating for them to ‘real thing’. Maybe this is where online bankingencounter different service levels, lead times, customer experience is headed.processes, choice or complexity on each. Hence,banks must pursue a unified multi-channel Reference:strategy to ensure that customers enjoy auniform and seamless experience across all 1. The 2011 World Retail Banking Reporttouch points. 2. Enhancing the Customer Experience andBut while recreating the branch experience Engagement in Retail Bankingonline by adding interactivity and social media 3. Improving Customer Satisfaction In Retailelements is a good start, is it enough? Or is there Bankingan ultimate customer experience, beyond this,which we can envision? 4. Next-Generation Digital Financial ServicesOnline customer experience is set to become Authorbigger and better Sudha Annie SaigalBanks have come a long way from brick and Senior Associate Consultant – Finaclemortar structures to the realms of the Internet. Infosys LimitedSo what’s next in their journey? Online Retail Banking Customer Experience: The Road Ahead

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