A New Normal: Implications for Bank Customer Experience Measurement Post Pandemic – Three Types of Customer Experiences

Part 1: Three Types of Customer Experiences CX Managers Must Understand

COVID-19 Crisis Accelerating Change

The transformation began decades ago.  Like a catalyst in a chemical reaction, the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the transformation away from in-person channels.   Recognizing paradigm shifts in the moment is often difficult, however – a long coming paradigm shift appears to be upon us.

Shifts away from one thing require a shift toward another.  A shift away from an in-person first approach is toward a digital first approach with increasing integrated layers of engagement and expertise. 

Digital First with Integrated Layers of Engagement & Expertise

Digital apps allow for a near continuous engagement with customers.  Apps now sit in customer’s pockets and are available to the customer on demand when and where they need them.  This communication actually works both ways with the customer providing information to the bank, and the bank informing the customer.  Managers of the customer experience can now deliver contextually relevant information directly to the customer.  Automated advice and expertise is in its infancy, and shows promise.  Chat bots and other preprogrammed help and advice can start the process of delivering help and expertise when requested.

Contact centers are the next logical layer of this integrated customer experience.  Contact centers are an excellent channel to deliver general customer service and advice, as well as expert advice for more sophisticated financial needs.  Kinesis has clients with Series 7 representatives and wealth managers providing expert financial advice via video conference.

The role of the branch obviously includes providing expert advice.  Branches will continue to become smaller, more flexible, less monolithic and, tailored to the location and market.  Small community centers will focus on community outreach, while larger flagship branches sit at the center of an integrated hub and spoke model – a model that includes digital and contact centers.

Three Types of Experiences

Every time a customer interacts with a bank, regardless of channel, they learn something about the bank, and adjust their behavior based on what they learn.  This is the core component of customer experience management – to teach customers to behave in profitable ways.  It is incumbent on managers of the customer experience to understand the different types of customer experiences, and their implications for managing the customer experience in this manner.  Customer experiences come in a variety of forms; however there are three types of experiences customer experience managers should be alert to.  These three are: planned, stabilizing, and critical experiences.


Planned interactions are intended to increase customer profitability by engaging customers in meaningful conversations in an integrated omni-channel environment. These interactions can be triggered by changes in the customers’ purchasing patterns, account usage, financial situation, family profile, etc. CRM analytics combined with Big Data are becoming quite effective at recognizing such opportunities and prompting action.  Customer experience managers should have a process to record and analyze the quality of execution of planned interactions, with the objective of evaluating their performance.

The key to an effective strategy for planned interactions is appropriateness. Triggered requests for increased spending must be made in the context of the customer’s needs and with their permission; otherwise the requests will come off as clumsy, annoying, and not customer centric. By aligning information about execution quality (cause) and customer actions (effect), customer experience managers can build a more effective and appropriate approach to planned interactions.

In future posts, we will look at planned experiences and consider their implications in light of this shift toward a digital first approach.


Stabilizing interactions promote customer retention, particularly in the early stages of the relationship.

New customers are at the highest risk of defection.  Long-term customers know what to expect from their bank, and due to self-selection, their expectations tend to be aligned with their experience.  New customers are more likely to experience disappointment, and thus more likely to defect. Turnover by new customers is particularly unprofitable because many defections occur prior to the break-even point of customer acquisition costs, resulting in a net loss on the customer. Thus, experiences that stabilize the customer relationship early ensure a higher proportion of customers will reach positive profitability.

The keys to an effective stabilizing strategy are education, consistency, and competence. Education influences expectation and helps customers develop realistic expectations.  It goes beyond simply informing customers about the products and services offered.  It systematically informs new customers how to use the bank’s services more effectively and efficiently: how to obtain assistance, how to complain, and what to expect as the relationship progresses. For an integrated digital first business model to work, customers need to learn how to use self-administered channels and know how, and when, to access the deeper layers offering more engagement and expertise.

In future posts, we will look at stabilizing experiences and consider their implications in light of this shift toward a digital first approach.


Critical interactions are events that lead to memorable customer experiences.  While most customer experiences are routine, from time to time a situation arises that is out of the ordinary: a complaint, a question, a special request, a chance for an employee to go the extra mile.  Today, many of these critical experiences occur amidst the underlying stresses of the COVID-19 crisis.  The outcomes of these critical incidents can be either positive or negative, depending upon the way the bank responds to them; however, they are seldom neutral. The longer a customer remains with a financial institution, the greater the likelihood that one or more critical experiences will occur – particularly in a time of crisis, like the pandemic.

Because they are memorable and unusual, critical interactions tend to have a powerful effect on the customer relationship. We often think of these as “moments of truth” where the institution has an opportunity to solidify the relationship earning a loyal customer, or risking the customer’s defection.  Positive outcomes lead to “customer delight” and word-of-mouth endorsements, while negative outcomes lead to customer defections, diminished share of wallet and unfavorable word-of-mouth.

The key to an effective critical interaction strategy is opportunity. Systems and processes must be in a position to react to these critical moments of truth. An effective customer experience strategy should include systems for recording critical interactions, analyzing trends and patterns, and feeding that information back to management.  This can be particularly challenging in an integrated Omni-channel environment.  Holistic customer profiles need to be available across channels, and employees must be trained to recognize critical opportunities and empowered to respond to them in such a way that they will lead to positive outcomes and desired customer behaviors.

In future posts, we will look at critical experiences and consider their implications in light of this shift toward a digital first approach.

In the next post we will explore planned interactions, and tools to monitor them through this accelerating change in distribution model.

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About Eric Larse

Eric Larse is co-founder of Seattle-based Kinesis CEM, LLC, which helps clients plan and execute their customer experience strategies through the intelligent use of customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping, linked with training and incentive programs. Visit Kinesis at: www.kinesis-cem.com

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