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Measure the Customer Experience in an Integrated Cross Channel Environment

Success in retail banking requires meeting customers with the correct channel for the customer’s waypoint in that journey. 

A waypoint is a point of reference when navigating a journey. 

Not all waypoints are equal.  Customers prefer different channels based on the waypoint in their customer journey.  As a result, different channels have assumed different roles in the customer journey.  The challenge for customer experience managers is to provide an integrated customer experience across all waypoints.

Kinesis’ research has identified specific roles for each integrated channel in the customer journey:

ChannelPreferred Role
Mobile– Transaction Tool
Web– Primary Role: Research Tool
– Secondary Role: Sales & Transfers
Contact Center– Help Center
– Source of Advice
Branch– Sales Center
– Source of Advice

The mobile channel is seen by customers as a transaction tool; the website’s role is broader, as a research, transaction and sales channel; contact centers are primarily a help center; and the branch is primarily a sales and advice channel.

This post offers a framework to measure individual channels in a way that will provide both channel specific direction in managing the experience, as well as benchmarking each channel against each other using consistent measurements.

Two CX Risks: Exposure and Moments of Truth

In designing a customer experience measurement program, it is instructive to think of the omni-channel experience in terms of two risks: exposure and moments of truth.

Exposure Risk

Exposure risk is the frequency of customer interactions within each channel.  Poor experiences in channels with high frequencies are replicated across more customers resulting in exposing more customers to poor experiences.  Mobile apps are the most frequently used channel.  According to our research, customers use mobile banking apps 24 times more frequently than visiting a branch.  Mobile banking has most exposure risk.   Websites are used by banking customers 16 times more frequently than a branch; followed contact centers, used 2.3 times more frequently than branches.

Moments of Truth

Moments of truth are critical experiences with more individual importance.  Poor experiences in a moment of truth interaction lead to negative customer emotions, with similarly negative impacts on customer profitability and word of mouth. 

Routine transactions, like transfers or deposits, represent low moment of truth risk, problem resolution or account opening are significant moments of truth. 

Exposure & Moment of Truth Risk by Channel

Different channels represent exposure and moment of truth risk is different ways.

The mobile channel’s role is primarily a transaction tool.  According to our research the mobile channel is the preferred channel for both transfers (58%) and deposits (53%).  It, therefore, has the highest exposure risk and lowest moment of truth risk.

The website is a mixed channel between research, transactions and opening accounts.  A plurality of customers (40%) consider the website their preferred channel to get information, followed by transfers (33%) and opening accounts (31%).  As a result, the web channel has a mix of exposure and moment of truth risk.

The contact center is primarily viewed as a channel for problem resolution (51%), followed by an advice and information source (27% and 23%, respectively).  It represents low exposure risk and elevated moment of truth risk.

Finally, the branch is the primary a source for advice and account opening (53% and 51%, respectively).  With infrequent use and high impact customer experiences, the branch has very low exposure risk, and significant moment of truth risk.

Understanding Exposure and Moments of Truth Risk to Inform CX Measurement

This concept of risk, along exposure and moments of truth, provides an excellent framework for informing customer experience measurement.

Digital channels with high exposure risk should be tested thoroughly with usability, focus groups, ethnography and other qualitative research to ensure features meet customer needs and are programmed correctly.  Once programmed and tested, they need to be monitored with ongoing audits.

Channels with higher moment of truth risk are best monitored with post-transaction surveys, mystery shopping and the occasional focus group.

Exposure RiskMoments of Truth
Design Focus Groups
Usability Tests
Ongoing Audits
Post Transaction Surveys
Mystery Shopping
Focus Groups

Integrated CX Measurement Design

When measuring the customer experience across multiple channels in an integrated manner, we recommend gathering both consistent measures across all channels, as well as measures specific to each channel.  Each channel has their own specific needs; however, consistent measures across all channels provide context and a point of comparison.

Consistent Measures

Cross-channel consistency is key to the customer experience.  Inconsistent experiences confuse and frustrate customers, and risk erosion of the brand value.

The consistent cross-channel measures Kinesis prefers to use are measures of the brand personality and efficacy of the customer experience.

Brand PersonalityEfficacy of the Experience
Brand Adjectives
Brand Statements
Purchase Intent
Likelihood of Referral
Customer Advocacy

Brand Personality:  To measure brand personality, Kinesis asks clients to list five adjectives that describes their brand personality.  Then we simply ask customers if each adjective described the customer experience.  We also ask clients to give us five statements that describe their desired brand, and measure the experience with an agreement scale.  For example, a client may desire their brand to be described by the statements: We are committed to the community.  We would then ask respondents the extent to which they are in agreement with the statement: We are committed to the community.  These measures of brand adjectives and brand statements provide managers of the customer experience a clear benchmark from which to evaluate how each channel reflects the desired brand personality.

Efficacy of the Experience:  Ultimately, the goal of the customer experience is to produce the intended result – results like loyalty, increased wallet share, or lower transaction costs.  Kinesis has had success using three measures to evaluate the efficacy of the customer experience:

  • Purchase Intent: Purchase intent is an excellent measure of efficacy of the experience.  To measure purchase intent we ask respondents how the experience influenced their intention to either open an account or maintain an existing relationship with the financial institution.
  • Likelihood of Referral:  The use of measures of likelihood of referral, like NPS, as a proxy for customer loyalty is almost universally accepted, and as a result, is often an excellent measure of efficacy of the experience.
  • Customer Advocacy:  Beyond likelihood of referral, agreement with the statement, My bank cares about me, not just the bottom line, is an excellent predictor of customer loyalty.

Channel Specific Attributes

In addition to consistent cross-channel measurements, it is important to focus on channel specific customer experience attributes.  While consistent measures across channels provide a benchmark to brand objectives, measuring specific service attributes provides actionable information about how to improve the customer experience in each specific channel.

In designing channel specific research features, ask yourself what specific service attributes or behaviors do you expect from each channel.  The answer to these questions will depend on the channel and your brand objectives.  In general, they typically roll up to the following broad dimensions of the customer experience:

Specific Channel Dimensions

Digital ChannelsPersonal Channels
Appeal
Identity
Navigation
Content/ Presentation
Value
Trust
Reliability
Responsiveness
Empathy
Competence
Tangibles

For digital channels, the best specific attributes to measure are ones associated with appeal, identity, navigation, content/ presentation, value, trust.  For personal channels, such as contact centers and branches, we find the best attributes are associated with dimensions of reliability, responsiveness, empathy, competence, and tangibles.

Not all waypoints in the customer journey are equal.  Customer experience researchers need to consider the role of each channel in the customer journey and design measurement tools with both channel specific observations, as well consistent measures across all channels.

Inform Customer Experience Management by Understanding What Customers Value

Introduction

The migration away from the branch channel that started decades ago has accelerated in recent years – aided by the confluence of the pandemic and technical advances.  Banks now operate in an age where it is possible to deliver a seamless integrated digital first retail banking delivery model.  Such a digital first business model needs to accomplish two objectives in the digital space: it must foster trust and deliver personalization.

Kinēsis’ research into issues of trust and personalization, suggests there is much work financial institutions need to do to achieve the objective of fostering trust and delivering personalization.  Nearly as many customers do not trust their primary financial institution as those who do.  Meanwhile digital channels exhibit a weaker relationship between trust and satisfaction compared to non-digital channels.

Customer perceptions of trust and satisfaction with their primary financial institution vary greatly based on what they value in the relationship with a financial institution. Importantly, for managers of the customer experience, what customers value in a relationship with a financial institution also reflects channel preference and selection.

Understanding customer segments should inform channel management.

Customer Segments

In our research, Kinēsis segmented survey respondents into four groups based on their answers to a battery of questions regarding which retail financial services are most important to them.  This segmentation grouped respondents into four attitudinal segments which we describe as follows:


Show Me The Money
These customers seek financial value from financial institutions.  They are significantly more likely than other respondents to feel value for money and competitive rates and fees are most important when doing business with a financial service provider.

Serve Me
These customers value personalized service from their financial service providers.  They tend to feel the most important attributes of a financial service provider are personalized service with polite and knowledgeable staff, providing quick and efficient service and fast resolution to any issues.

Products Please
Customers who grouped into this segment are were more likely to value a broad range of products, loyalty programs, ethical and sustainable business practices, recommendations and an appealing brand.

Don’t’ Make Me Wait
These customers value efficiency.  Almost exclusively they respond quick and efficient service and fast resolution to any issues are most important to them.

Let’s explore how customer attitudes and values can reflect themselves in trust, satisfaction and behavior.

Trust in Financial Institution

Customers who value products and services have stronger trust in their primary financial institution, while those who value efficiency display weaker trust.

Trust in Financial Institution

When asked the extent to which they agreed with the following statement, “My primary financial institution looks after my long-term financial wellbeing.”  Customers who value products and services professed the strongest agreement with this statement, and were significantly more likely to agree with this statement compared to customers who value efficiency.

Satisfaction with Financial Institution by Channel

Customers who value products tend to be more satisfied, while customers who seek financial value tend to be less satisfied.

Satisfaction with Financial Institution by Channel for Customer Segments

In general, automated channels appear to have higher satisfaction compared to personal channels.  Customers expressed the highest satisfaction for mobile apps and the lowest satisfaction for contact centers.

Preferred Channel to Open Account

Customers who want quality products and services are significantly more likely to want to use a mobile app to open an account, as opposed to visit a branch.

Preferred Channel to Open Account

About half of the respondents preferred to open an account at a branch, about one-third would prefer to use the website, while only one in ten would prefer a mobile app to open an account.  The customer segment most likely to find appeal in using the mobile app are those who value products and services.

Preferred Channel for Problem Resolution

The contact center is the preferred channel to resolve a problem, followed by the branch.

Preferred channel for problem resolution.

Customers who want quality products and services are significantly more likely to want to use a mobile app to resolve a problem, as opposed to visit a branch.

Preferred Channel for Information

When asked how they prefer to get information, a plurality of customers prefer to use the website, followed by the contact center. 

Preferred Channel for Information

Customers who seek service quality are significantly more likely than financial value seekers to want to visit a branch to get information.

Preferred Channel for Advice

It is clear most customers still prefer the branch when seeking advice.  Seeking advice is a type of transaction we refer to as a moment of truth, with high importance on the relationship with the customer, and it’s clear a little hand holding is appreciated across all segments.

Preferred Channel for Advice

Customers who seek service quality are significantly less likely than others to want to visit a website to seek financial advice.

Preferred Channel for Funds Transfer

The majority of customers prefer mobile apps to websites for funds transfers.

Preferred Channel for Funds Transfer

Customers who seek quality products or services are significantly more likely to prefer mobile apps to transfer funds, compared to those who seek service or efficiency.

Conclusion

When segmenting customers by what they value in a financial institution, differences begin to appear between customer segments in both measures of trust, satisfaction and behavior.

Customers who value products and services tend to trust and be more satisfied with their primary financial institution.  This most likely reflects the transition from a branch centric model to a digital first model.  Customers who are product oriented are less likely to require personal attention.  Not surprisingly, these customers are also more likely to use a mobile app to complete a variety of transactions.

Preference for financial value and efficiency do not appear to have significant behavioral differences, however, attitudinally, they display different feeling of trust and satisfaction.   Customers who value efficiency display weak trust in their primary financial institution; while those who seek financial value are generally less satisfied with their primary financial institution.

Customers who value service quality are most likely to be left behind in a switch from a branch distribution channel to a digital first deli very model.  These customers represent 25% of all bank customers. They are less likely to use a website and app and more likely to visit a branch.

As the industry transitions to a digital first delivery model, managers of the customer experience will need to pay close attention to the customers who value personalized service and human interaction in the customer journey to foster both trust and satisfaction.

Integrated Digital First CX Model:  Implications for CX Researchers

In previous posts to this five-part series on building an integrated digital-first service model we discussed

An integrated delivery channel requires an integration of research methodologies to measure the customer experience.  Researchers should think in terms of exposure and moments of truth as they monitor each waypoint in the customer experience.

Understanding Exposure & Moments of Truth Risks

Digital waypoints with high exposure risk should be tested thoroughly with usability, focus groups, ethnography and other qualitative research to ensure features meet customer needs and are programmed correctly.  Once programmed and tested, they need to be monitored with ongoing audits.

Waypoints with higher moment of truth risk are best monitored with post-transaction surveys, mystery shopping and the occasional focus group.

Exposure RiskMoments of Truth
Design Focus Groups
Usability Tests
Ongoing Audits
Post Transaction Surveys
Mystery Shopping
Focus Groups

Integrated Channel CX Measurement

When measuring the customer experience across multiple channels in an integrated manner, it is important to both gather consistent measures across all channels, as well as measures specific to each channel.  Each channel has their own specific needs; however, consistent measures across all channels provide context and a point of comparison.

Here is what an integrated omni-channel research plan may look like:

Kinēsis recommends measuring each channel against a set of consistent brand attribute measurements.  Brands have personality, and it is incumbent on CX researchers to evaluate each channel against the overall desired brand personality objectives.  A channel disconnected from the institution’s brand objectives can do a lot of damage to the institution’s perceived image.

Kinēsis uses brand adjectives and agreement statements to measure customer impressions of the brand.  Ask yourself, what 5 or 6 adjectives you would like customers to describe your institution.  Then simply take these adjectives and ask customers if the adjectives describe the customer experience.

Next, ask yourself, what statements you would like the customer to describe their perception of the brand as a result of any interaction.  Statements such as:

•     We are easy to do business with.

•     We are knowledgeable.

•     We are interested in members as people, and concerned for their individual needs.

•     We are committed to the community.

These statements can be incorporated into the research by asking customers the extent they agree with each of the statements.

Again, brands have personality.  Brand adjectives and agreement statements are an excellent way to tie disparate research across multiple channels together with consistent measures of perceptions of the brand personality as a result of the experience.

Channel Specific Dimensions

Different channels have different service attributes; therefore, it is important to provide each channel manager with specific research relevant to their channel.  Digital channels, for example, may require measures around: appeal, identity, navigation, content, value and trust.  Non-digital managers may require measures such as: reliability, responsiveness, competence, empathy and the physical environment.

Efficacy of the Experience

Regardless of channel, all research should contain consistent measures of the efficacy of the experience.  The efficacy of the experience is the institution’s ultimate objective of every customer experience.  Ask yourself, how do we want the customer to feel or think as a result of the interaction?

Some examples of efficacy measurements include:

•     Purchase Intent/ Return Intent:  Kinēsis has a long history using this dependent variable, using purchase intent.

•     Likelihood of Referral:  Likelihood of referral measures (like Net Promoter Score) are generally accepted as a reliable proxy measure for customer loyalty.

•     Member/ Customer Advocacy:  The extent to which the financial institution is an advocate for the customer is best measured by using an agreement scale to measure the agreement with the following statement, “This bank cares about me, not just the bottom line.”  Agreement with this statement is also an excellent proxy measurement for loyalty.

Integrated Digital First CX Model:  Implications for CX Managers

In previous posts to this five-part series on building an integrated digital-first service model we discussed:

A waypoint is a point of reference when navigating a journey.  Not only do the customer journeys take place across a multiple channels, but they take place across multiple transactions or waypoints. 

An integrated digital channel strategy must be founded on understanding how specific channels match up to specific waypoints in the customer journey.  In the first installment of these series there is a discussion of this issue.  The understanding that different transactions match different channels is the whole point of an integrated strategy.

Currently, not every digital channel is a match for every customer need.  Digital channels with higher a frequency of visits are increasingly the day-to-day face of the institution.  The exposure risk of these channels is high, and managers of the customer experience must make sure digital channels are well programmed and tested to manage this exposure risk.  Currently, however, customers prefer to match digital channels for low moment of truth interactions such as transfers, deposits, and researching information.  In terms of satisfaction, these digital channels outperform the non-digital; however, they play on a very different playing field.  Customers interact with branches and contact centers much less frequently, and assign lower satisfaction ratings to these channels. But when they do use these channels, it is much more important.  Customers match these non-digital channels to high moment-of-truth interactions such as seeking advice, problem resolution, and opening an account. 

Advances in artificial intelligence will no doubt close some of the moment of truth gaps between digital and non-digital channels, but for now, there still is a role for branches and contact centers.  Closing these gaps between digital and non-digital channels will require attention to both personalization and trust.  Again, people want banks to care about their needs and have the ability to meet their needs and solve their problems.

What do customers want from a bank?

Overall, customers value efficiency and personalized service from their primary financial institution.  As we’ve seen, the most appealing service attributes to customers are:

•     Online and mobile services

•     Quick and efficient service

•     Fast resolution of any issues

•     Ability to manage my accounts in ways that suit me

•     Polite and knowledgeable staff

It is important to note, this list includes both digital and personal channels.  Customers value an integrated approach.

ROI Potential of Digital Banking Attributes

Investments in timely information, financial value, and cyber security assistance have the most potential for return on investment.  The digital banking attributes with the highest potential for ROI in terms of appeal to customers and increasing their trust are:

•     Alerts about upcoming direct debits

•     Alerts about upcoming overdrafts

•     Offers and perks from places shopped often

•     Cyber security assistance

Further, investments in personalized information have the highest potential for fostering customer trust.  Customers do not find the following attributes particularly appealing relative to other attributes; however, they do offer high ROI potential in terms of increasing customer trust:

•     Analytics/dashboards

•     Budget information

•     Savings tips

•     Balance updates

Ultimately, success or failure of any integrated digital first strategy will require banks to achieve something that has eluded them so far – that is to scale personalization.

Video Banking

Video banking seems an obvious solution to scale personalization.  However, while the potential of their adoption of this channel, in the age of Zoom, is delayed.  According to our research only 4% of bank customers have used video banking.  However, of those consumers who have used video banking, all of them trust their primary financial institution, and felt it looked after their financial wellbeing.  This suggests video banking could be well received, and deepen the overall relationship with the customers.

/Next, we will consider the implications of a digital first integrated environment for CX researchers.

Integrated Digital First CX Model:  What do Customers Want from Digital Channels?

In previous posts to this five-part series on building an integrated digital-first service model we discussed matching different waypoints of the customer journey to the channels best suited for the specific waypoint.

Beyond the overall CX at the institution level, we also researched CX attributes specific to the digital channel.  In an effort to identify digital features to prioritize in digital channel design, Kinēsis investigated both the appeal and trust of various digital banking attributes.

Timely information, cyber security, and financial value are the most appealing digital banking features.

Digital Attribute Appeal

The following chart displayed the relative appeal of digital service attributes on a 5-point scale:

Timely information about overdraft and upcoming direct debits alerts received two of the top three appeal rankings (4.2 and 4.0, respectively).  Assistance with cyber security threats, and offers and perks from places shopped often round out the top four. 

The next tier of five attributes, with average appeal ratings of 3.3 to 3.0, contain themes of information and personalized advice:

•     Personal financial reports and analytics/ Dashboards

•     Savings tips based on my spending patterns

•     Balance updates until my next payday

•     Tips to act more sustainably based on my behavior

•     Budget information based on spending

Chatbots and gamification (making the app more fun with elements of game playing, such as badges, points, etc), round out the bottom two attributes.

Digital Attributes & Trust

To add context to the digital attribute appeal ranking, we asked consumers if each of the attributes would increase their trust in the financial service provider.

Mirroring the appeal rankings, cyber security and timely information have the highest likelihood of increasing trust in the financial institution.

Cyber security assistance and alerts about overdrafts and upcoming direct debits increased trust for just about 19 out of 20 customers. 

Only about 4 in 10 customers felt chatbots or gamification would increase their trust in the financial institution.

In order to provide CX managers context to make informed decisions about which digital attributes to prioritize, the trust and appeal rankings of each attribute are plotted on the quadrant chart below.  Each of the quadrants below labeled (Q1 – Q4) are defined by the average appeal and trust rankings. Those in quadrant 1 (Q1) have higher than average appeal and trust, while those in Q4 have lower than average appeal and trust.

Investments in timely information, financial value and cyber security assistance have the most potential for return on investment.

With higher than average trust and appeal ratings, alerts about upcoming direct debits and overdrafts, offers and perks from places shopped often and cyber security assistance are the four digital attributes positioned to yield the highest return on investment in terms of appeal and trust.

Personal financial information such as analytics/dashboards, budget information, savings tips, and balance updates have below average appeal, however higher than average trust implications, and therefore should be prioritized next.

Tips to act sustainably, chatbots and making the app more fun with gamification have both below average appeal and they do not appear to have strong associations with trust of the institution, and therefore should be prioritized last.

Next, we will consider the implications of this research for CX managers.

Integrated Digital First CX Model:  Customer Preferences for Financial Service Provider

In a previous post to this five-part series on building an integrated digital-first service model we discussed matching different waypoints of the customer journey to the channels best suited for the specific waypoint.

In an effort to help CX managers make informed decisions regarding their overall service mix, Kinēsis asked consumers to rate an assortment of financial service CX attributes with respect to their importance, as well as the relationship between the importance of these attributes and the customers’ trust that the financial institution looked after their financial wellbeing.

Efficiency and personalized service are the most important dimensions of the customer experience.

Attribute Importance

The following chart displayed the frequency customers stated each attribute was important to them when doing business with a financial service provider.  To force respondents to consider only attributes which were important to them, they were only allowed to select up to five attributes.

Again, efficiency and personalized service are the most important dimensions of the customer experience.  The most frequently cited service attributes surround themes of efficiency (online and mobile services, quick and efficient service, fast resolution to any issues) and personalized service (polite and knowledgeable staff, and ability to manage accounts in ways that suit me), followed by polite and knowledgeable staff, the ability to manage accounts in ways that suit the customer, and competitive rates and fees.

Attribute Value & Trust in Institution

The least frequently cited attributes surrounded products and the brand (customer loyalty programs, broad range of quality products, recommendations of appropriate products & services and appealing brand).

Beyond the appeal of each attribute, Kinēsis investigated their relationship to trust in the financial institution.

While brand appeal, recommendations of appropriate products & services and a broad range of quality products were cited with the least frequency in terms of their importance, customers who cited these attributes as important were more likely to trust their primary financial institution.  While customers are not as likely to include these three attributes in their list of top-5 important attributes, brand appeal, recommendations of appropriate products & services and a broad range of quality products do appear to have a positive relationship to trust in the institution. 

Next, to inform decisions about digital delivery, we will investigate customer preferences specific digital banking features.  What do customers what from the digital channel?

Customer Waypoints & Channel Preferences in and Integrated Digital CX Delivery Model

What started decades ago as a migration away from the branch channel has accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic – aided by technological advances that were not available just a few years ago.  This confluence of the pandemic and technical advances is culminating in an age where it is possible to deliver a seamless integrated digital first retail banking delivery model.  Such an integrated delivery model is based on the understanding that customers have different needs at different moments in their customer journey.  This delivery model matches channels strategically to these different needs at the correct moment for the customer.

Customer Journey Waypoints

A waypoint is a point of reference when navigating a journey.  Not only do the customer journeys take place across a multiple channels, but they take place across multiple transactions or waypoints as well.  To investigate how customers navigate digital and personal channels, Kinēsis researched customer channel preferences for six different customer journey waypoints: opening an account, problem resolution, seeking advice, getting information, making a deposit, and transferring funds.

Two CX Risks: Exposure & Moments of Truth

Business is often a process of balancing risks.  The customer experience is no different.  Managers of an integrated delivery model should be aware of the two primary risks they face: exposure and moments of truth.  Exposure risk is the sheer frequency of customer encounters in the channel.  Poor experiences in a high exposure channels spread this poor experience across more customers.  Moments of truth are critical experiences with more individual importance of the waypoint.  Poor experiences in a moment of truth interaction lead to negative customer emotions, with similarly negative impacts on customer profitability and word of mouth.

Waypoints and Channel Preferences

The foundation of an integrated digital first CX model is based on matching the best suited channels based on the needs of both the customer and the institution.  Customer channel choice is not uniform.  Rather, customers select channels they deem appropriate based on the waypoint of the customer journey they find themselves.  For customers conducting a transfer or deposit, mobile apps are the most popular channel (preferred by 58% and 53% of the customers, respectively).  Customers seeking information have a broader range of preferred channels, but a plurality (40%) prefers to seek information via the website.  The contact center’s preferred role is problem resolution (51%); while the branch is preferred to both seek advice and open an account.

The following table illustrates these different channel preferences for different waypoints in the journey, as well as overlaying channel use, satisfaction and the moment of truth potential for each waypoint:

Frequency of Customer Preferences by Waypoint

The above table illustrates the current state of the integrated digital first business model.  The digital channels, with the most exposure risk, are the primary customer choice for waypoints which represent low moment of truth risk. 

•     Automated transactions such as transfers and deposits are preferred with an app. 

•     The website serves as both an information center, and to a lesser extent transactional center. 

•     The contact center’s primary role is problem resolution, and as a result carries significant risk in terms of moments of truth. 

•     The branch is where customers come to seek advice as well as initiate or deepen a banking relationship by opening an account.

Again, managers of the customer experience should be cognizant of both their risk in terms of exposure and moments of truth.  With an average of nearly one visit every other day, poorly executed mobile experiences represent significant exposure risk, yet the nature of these transactions represent low moment of truth risk.  Fortunately, 88% of customers are satisfied with their financial institution’s app, with a near super majority of customers describing themselves as very satisfied.  The branch and contact center have the opposite risk profile.  With, respectively, an average of just 7 and 17 visits annually, they do not represent a significant exposure risk.  However, both the contact center and the branch represent significant risk with respect to encountering moments of truth.  While digital channels are the daily face of the institution, when faced with a moment of truth, customers appear to prefer a see a real face, or hear a comforting voice.  Customers interact with branches and contact centers much less frequently – but when they do – it is important.  In this light, the relative dissatisfaction with these channels (average satisfaction 4.2 and 4.0, respectively) relative to apps and websites (average satisfaction 4.5 and 4.4, respectively) is cause for concern.  The computers appear to be out performing the people – but they perform on an easier playing field.

The current environment with pandemic-related disruptions has pushed most customers into accelerating digital adoption.  However, there is an element of trust missing with digital delivery.  As most customers shy away from digital channels when their need advances up the moment of truth scale.  Trust will be key in deepening digital relationships.

Conclusion

Momentum toward digital banking has been building for decades as emergent technologies, aided by the pandemic, increase the utility and use of digital channels.  This confluence of the pandemic and technical advances is culminating in an age where it is possible to deliver a seamless digital first integrated retail banking business model. 

Such an integrated delivery model is based on the understanding that customers have different needs at different moments of their customer journey.  This delivery model matches channels strategically to these different needs at the correct moment for the customer.

Neither size nor a focus on technology provides an advantage in terms of the overall customer experience.  The evidence strongly suggests, being closer to the customer, and matching different waypoints of the customer journey to the channels best suited for the specific waypoint is the best CX model:

•     Automated transactions are preferred with an app. 

•     The website is best positioned as an information center, and to a lesser extent transactional center. 

•     Problem resolution in customers’ minds is the contact center’s primary role.

•     Customers visit a branch to seek advice or open an account.

In future installments of this five-part series, we will:

A New Normal: Implications for Bank Customer Experience Measurement Post Pandemic – Planned Interactions

Part 2: Research Tools to Monitor Planned Interactions through the Customer Lifecycle

As we explored in an earlier post, Three Types of Customer Experiences CX Managers Must Understand, there are three types of customer interactions: Planned, Stabilizing, and Critical.

Planned interactions are intended to increase customer profitability through the customer lifecycle by engaging customers with relevant planned interactions and content in an integrated omni-channel environment.  Planned interactions will continue to grow in importance as the financial service industry shifts to an integrated digital first model.

These planned interactions are frequently triggered by changes in account usage, financial situation, family profile, etc.  CRM analytics combined with Big Data are becoming quite effective at recognizing such opportunities and prompting action toward planned interactions.  Customer experience managers should have a process to record and analyze the quality of execution of planned interactions with the objective of evaluating their effectiveness – regardless of the channel.

The key to an effective strategy for planned interactions is relevance. Triggered requests for increased engagement must be made in the context of the customer’s needs and with their permission; otherwise, the requests will come off as clumsy and annoying, and give the impression the bank is not really interested in the customer’s individual needs.  By aligning information about execution quality (cause) and customer impressions (effect), customer experience managers can build a more effective and relevant approach to planned interactions.

Research Plan for Planned Interactions

The first step in designing a research plan to test the efficacy of these planned interactions is to define the campaign.  Ask yourself, what customer interactions are planned through these layers of integrated channels.  Mapping the process will define your research objectives, allowing an informed judgment of what to measure and how to measure it.

For example, after acquisition and onboarding, assume a bank has a campaign to trigger planned interactions based on triggers from past engagement.  These planned interactions are segmented into the following phases of the customer lifecycle: engagement, growth, and retention.

Engagement Phase

Often it is instructive to think of customer experience research in terms of the bank-customer interface, employing different research tools to study the customer experience from both sides of this interface.

In our example above, management may measure the effectiveness of planned experiences in the engagement phase with the following research tools:

Customer Side Brand Side
Post-Event Surveys
 
These post-experience surveys are event-driven, where a transaction or service interaction determines if the customer is selected for a survey.  They can be performed across all channels, digital, contact center and in-person.  As the name implies, the purpose of this type of survey is to measure experience with a specific customer experience.
Employee Surveys

Ultimately, employees are at the center of the integrated customer experience model.
 
Employee surveys often measure employee satisfaction and engagement. However, there is far more value to be gleaned from employees.  We employ them to understand what is going on at the customer-employee interface by leveraging employees as a valuable and inexpensive resource of customer experience information.
 
They not only provide intelligence into the customer experience, but also evaluate the level of support within the organization, and identify perceptual gaps between management and frontline personnel.
Overall Satisfaction Surveys
 
Overall satisfaction surveys measure customer satisfaction among the general population of customers, regardless of whether or not they recently conducted a transaction.  They give managers valuable insight into overall satisfaction, engagement, image and positioning across the entire customer base, not just active customers.
Digital Delivery Channel Shopping
 
Be it a website or mobile app, digital mystery shopping allows managers of these channels to test ease of use, navigation and the overall customer experience of these digital channels.
  Transactional Mystery Shopping
 
Mystery shopping is about alignment.  It is an excellent tool to align the customer experience to the brand. Best-in-class mystery shopping answers the question: is our customer experience consistent with our brand objectives?  Historically, mystery shopping has been in the in-person channel, however we are seeing increasing mystery shopping to contact center agents.

Growth Phase

In the growth phase, we measure the effectiveness of planned experiences on both sides of the customer interface with the following research tools:

Customer Side Brand Side
Awareness Surveys
 
Awareness of the brand, its products and services, is central to planned service interactions.  Managers need to know how awareness and attitudes change as a result of these planned experiences.
Cross-Sell  Mystery Shopping
 
In these unique mystery shops, mystery shoppers are seeded into the lead/referral process.  The sales behaviors and their effectiveness are then evaluated in an outbound sales interaction.
 
These shops work very well in planned sales interactions within the contact center environment. 
Wallet Share Surveys
 
These surveys are used to evaluate customer engagement with and loyalty to the institution.  Specifically, they determine if customers consider the institution their primary provider of financial services, and identify potential road blocks to wallet share growth.
 

Retention Phase

Finally, planned experiences within the retention phase of the customer lifecycle may be monitored with the following tools:

Customer Side Brand Side
Critical Incident Technique (CIT)
 
CIT is a qualitative research methodology designed to uncover details surrounding a service encounter that a customer found particularly satisfying or dissatisfying.  This research technique identifies these common critical incidents, their impact on the customer experience, and customer engagement, giving managers an informed perspective upon which to prepare employees to recognize moments of truth, and respond in ways that will lead to positive outcomes.
Employee Surveys
 
Employees observe firsthand the relationship with the customer.  They are a valuable resource of customer experience information, and can provide a lot of context into the types of bad experiences customers frequently experience.
Lost Customer Surveys
 
Closed account surveys identify sources of run-off or churn to provide insight into improving customer retention.
Life Cycle Mystery Shopping
 
If an integrated channel approach is the objective, one should measure the customer experience in an integrated manner.
 
In lifecycle shops, shoppers interact with the bank over a period of time, across multiple touch points (digital, contact center and in-person).  This lifecycle approach provides broad and deep observations about sales and service alignment to the brand and performance throughout the customer lifecycle across all channels.
Comment Listening
 
Comment tools are not new, but with modern Internet-based technology they can be used as a valuable feedback tool to identify at risk customers and mitigate the causes of their dissatisfaction.
 

Call to Action – Make the Most of the Research

For customer experience surveys, we recommend testing the effectiveness of planned interactions by benchmarking three loyalty attitudes:

  • Would Recommend: The likelihood of the customer recommending the bank to a friend, relative or colleague.
  • Customer Advocacy: The extent to which the customer agrees with the statement, “My bank cares about me, not just the bottom line?”
  • Primary Provider: Does the customer consider the institution their primary provider for financial services?

For mystery shopping, we find linking observations to a dependent variable, such as purchase intent, identifies which sales and service behaviors drive purchase intent – informing decisions with respect to training and incentives to reinforce the sales activities which drive purchase intent.

As the integrated digital first business model accelerates, planned interactions will continue to grow in importance, and managers of the customer experience should build customer experience monitoring tools to evaluate the efficacy of these planned experiences in terms of driving desired customer attitudes and behaviors.

In the next post, we will take a look at stabilizing experiences, and their implications for customer experience research.

 

 

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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

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

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

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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Customer Experience Measurement in the Coronavirus Age

Earlier in this three-part series we discussed the mechanism and risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and the implications of the pandemic on the customer experience.

Perhaps the most important way brands can respond to the moment of truth presented by this crisis is showing true care for: customers, employees, and the community.

Additionally, it is imperative that customers feel safe.  Based on current science, in-person interactions can be relatively safe if followed within CDC and public health guidance including risk mitigation efforts such as: physical distancing, masks, ventilation, length of exposure, and hand washing & sanitizer.

Using these previous posts as a foundation, we can now address the implications of the pandemic on customer experience measurement.

So…. what does all this mean in terms of customer experience measurement?

First, I like to think of the customer experience measurement in terms of the brand-customer interface where customers interact with the brand.  At the center of the customer experience are the various channels which form the interface between the customer and institution. Together, these channels define the brand more than any external messaging. Best-in-class customer experience research programs monitor this interface from multiple directions across all channels to form a comprehensive view of the customer experience.

Customers and front-line employees are the two stakeholders who interact most commonly with each other in the customer-institution interface. As a result, a best practice in understanding this interface is to monitor it directly from each direction: surveying customers from one side, gathering observations from employees on the brand side, and testing for the presence and timing of customer experience attributes through observational research such as mystery shopping.

Measure Customer Comfort and Confidence

First, fundamentally, the American economy is a consumer confidence driven economy.   Consumers need to feel confident in public spaces to participate in public commerce.  Customer experience researchers would be well served by testing for consumer confidence with respect to safety and mitigation strategies.  These mitigation strategies are quickly becoming consumer requirements in terms of confidence in public commerce.

Along the same lines, given the centrality of consumer confidence in our economy, measuring how customers feel about the mitigation strategies put in place by the brand is extremely important.  Such measurements would include measures of appropriateness, effectiveness, and confidence in the mitigation strategies employed.  We recommend two measurements: how customers feel about the safety of the brand’s in-person channel in general, and how they feel about the safety relative to other brands they interact with during the pandemic.  The first is an absolute measure of comfort, the other attempts to isolate the variable of the pandemic, just measuring the brand’s response.

The pandemic is changing consumer behavior. This much is clear.  As such customer experience researchers should endeavor to identify and understand how consumer behavior is changing so they can adjust the customer experience delivery mix to align with these changes.

Testing Mitigation Strategies

Drilling down from broader research issues to mystery shopping specifically, there are several research design issues that should be continued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Measure Customer Confidence in Post-Transaction Surveys with Alerts to Failures:  First, as economic activity waxes and wanes through this coronavirus mitigation effort, consumer confidence will drive economic activity both on a macro and micro-economic level.  Broadly, consumers as a whole will not participate in the in-person economy until they are confident the risk of infection is contained.  Pointedly, at the individual business level, customers will not return to a business if they feel unsafe.  Therefore, market researchers should build measures of comfort or confidence into the post-transaction surveys to measure how the customer felt as a result of the experience.   This will alert managers to potential unsafe practices which must be addressed.  It will also serve as a means of directly measuring the return on investment (ROI) of customer confidence and safety initiatives in terms of the customer experience.

Measure Customer Perception of Mitigation Strategies:  Coronavirus mitigation strategies will become typical attributes of the customer experience.   Beyond simply testing for the presence of these mitigation strategies, customer experience managers should determine customer perceptions of their appropriateness, efficacy, and perhaps most importantly, their confidence in these mitigation strategies.

Gather Employee Observations of Mitigation Strategies:  Frontline employees spend nearly all their time in the brand customer interface.  As such, they have always been a wealth of information about the customer experience, and can be surveyed very efficiently.  The post-pandemic customer experience is no exception. 

First, as we discussed previously, employees have the same personal safety concerns as customers.   Surveys of employees should endeavor to evaluate employees’ confidence in and comfort with coronavirus mitigation strategies. 

Secondly, frontline employees being placed in the middle of the brand-customer interface are in perfect position to give feedback regarding the efficacy of mitigation strategies and the extent to which it fits into the desired customer experience – providing managers with valuable insight into adjustments which may make mitigation strategies fit more precisely into overall the customer experience objectives.

Independently Test for the Presence of Mitigation Strategies:  All in-person channels across all industries will require the adoption of coronavirus mitigation strategies.  Mystery shopping is the perfect tool to test for the presence of mitigation strategies – evaluating such strategies as: designed physical distancing, physical barriers between POS personnel and customers, mask compliance, sanitization, and duration of contact.

Alternative Research Sources for Behavioral Observations:  Some customer experience managers may not want unnecessary people within their in-person channel.  So the question arises, how can employee behaviors be measured without the use of mystery shoppers?  One solution is to solicit behavioral observations directly from actual customers shortly after the in-person service interaction.  Customers can be recruited onsite to provide their observations through the use of QR codes, or in certain industries after the event via e-mail.  The purpose of these surveys is behavioral – asking the customers to recall if a specific behavior or service attribute was present during the encounter.  From a research design standpoint, this practice is a little suspect, as asking people to recall the specifics about an event after the fact, without prior knowledge, is problematic.  Customers are not prepared or prompted to look for and recall specific events.  However, given the unique nature of the circumstances we are under, in some cases there is an argument that the benefits of this approach outweigh the research limitations.

Test Channel Performance and Alignment

The instantaneous need for alternative delivery channels has significantly raised the stakes in cross-channel alignment.  As sales volume shifts to these alternative channels, customer experience researchers need to monitor the customer experience within all channels to measure the efficacy of the experience, as well as alignment of each channel to both each other and the overall brand objectives.

Finally, as more customers migrate to less in-person channels, customer experience researchers should endeavor to measure the customer experience within each channel.  As more late adopters are forced by the pandemic to migrate to these channels, they may bring with them a completely different set of expectations relative to early adopters, therefore managers would be well served to understand the expectations of these newcomers to the alternative channels so they can adjust the customer experience to meet these new customers’ expectations.

As commerce migrates away from conventional in-person channels to alternative delivery channels, the importance of these channels will increase.  As a result, the quality and consistency of delivery in these channels will need to be measured through the use of mystery shoppers.  Some industries are going to be problematic, as their current economics do not currently support alternative delivery.  With time however, economic models will evolve to support alternative channels.

Conclusion

This is a difficult time.  It will be the defining event of our generation.

The pandemic, and our reaction to it, is dramatically changing how humans interact with each other, and the customer experience is no exception.  There is reason to suggests this difficult time could become a new normal.  Managers of the customer experience need to understand the implications of the customer experience in the post-Covid environment, as the implications of the pandemic may never fully subside.  Customer experience managers must consider the implications of this new normal, not only on the customer experience, but on customer experience measurement.

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