Understanding customer experience during the digital transition

Digital and technological advancements have enhanced the banking experience, but the key to future-proofing it will be in keeping consumer trust


Despite the transition to serving customers digitally during the pandemic not being without its challenges, the banking industry has changed and some of what are being considered ‘new normal’ consumer behaviours and expectations are likely here to stay. However, some of the digital solutions and communications tools deployed as part of this evolution to digital experiences are falling short of providing a seamless experience for customers, resulting in an erosion of trust.

The current cost of living crisis presents opportunities for traditional banks to reimagine the banking model of a ‘one size fits all’ approach and find new ways to perfect it. Fintech brands such as Moneybox and Tink are already taking a fresh approach to some of the tactics deployed by traditional players. Recently Tink and Snoop announced they are teaming up to help UK customers navigate the cost of living crisis through offering its customers money management services.

It’s not too late for financial institutions to reimagine the experience they give customers. Embracing new technologies, developing a better understanding of customer needs and placing a greater emphasis on educating them, will result in trust and greater loyalty.

Setting the right tone
The importance of offering appropriate channels of communication that work for your customers across demographics, thinking styles and usage patterns, is vital for a positive relationship instilled with confidence. Relying on the historical ‘one size fits all’ approach can risk customer longevity. For example, some customers prefer traditional telephone banking because of the human-centric nature of being directly linked to another person in real time. Many banks have invested in upgrading their call centre models, as well as automated messaging services such as chatbots and online FAQs. However, in some cases, we have seen this have an adverse effect, with banks losing human-centricity and being unable to operate consistently across touch points, particularly when it comes to more complicated financial needs.

Banks looking to provide a superior customer experience would do well to follow in the footsteps of First Direct, who have transformed their telephone banking service. Offering a tailored and quick service means customers get reassurance they are speaking to a professional with the capabilities to respond to all manner of financial needs. If the process to reach help is uncomplicated and obstacle-free, customers won’t look to bank elsewhere. To solidify trust and ensure that information is clear, banks could consider recapping the information shared online or discussed over the phone via app, email or text.

Security above all
Around 36 million UK citizens were targeted by scams in 2021, which makes security a big consideration for customers needing to feel high levels of trust in a bank’s approach. Designing security into the digital offering is a great way to make people feel at ease when managing their money online. Examples of enhancement include more progressive disclosure, clear and accessible advice, and sharing educational resources resulting in customers feeling like they are being looked after and proactively protected by their bank.

Customers will, in turn, become wiser about online security threats and learn how their bank operates, instilling greater confidence when moving beyond surface level transactions into more complex financial transactions. Banks need to be clear in their communication with customers, including the exact types of communication they can expect to receive, and how. A simple and definitive ‘we will only contact you via text’ can go a long way to building trust, and decreasing confusion or misunderstanding.

Branch out
Many people still value visiting bricks and mortar branches and receiving an in-person experience despite some shaping products and services around ‘digital-first.’ With many branches having slimmed down their services offered in-store or closed entirely, rethinking how branches operate will be key.

Designing security into the digital offering is a great way to make people feel at ease when managing their money online

Lloyds Bank runs a mobile branch service to help eliminate any disruption to the local community caused by local branches closing. Running on a fortnightly timetable, the mobile branches allow customers to pay bills, deposit cash and cheques, and order foreign currency, among other financial tasks. Understanding what customers still need from an in-person experience, and then reorganising services accordingly is a way of establishing trust and long-term relationships.

Banks should consider turning the branches they do have into financial hubs; central to bringing communities together and providing support and education through seminars or classes. Partnerships with other centres or hubs that act as pillars of the community would also increase loyalty and engagement with banks, while providing extra support.

While financial institutions have responded as best they can digitally to accommodate the ever-changing landscape, digital does not always mean what’s best for the customer. The need now is for banks to move beyond pure digitisation into looking to supplement efficient and automated systems with a greater degree of customer centricity and personalisation.

A complete analysis of how customers interact with the services provided and the cultural context can lead to banks operating proactively, to future-proof tomorrow’s banking experience. By raising the experience bar, they will not only gain trust from customers but ultimately benefit their business too through happier relationships, better supported customers and a chance to build a lifelong relationship.