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A New Normal: Implications for Bank Customer Experience Measurement Post Pandemic – Stabilizing Relationships

Part 3: Onboarding Research: Research Techniques to Track Effectiveness of Stabilizing New Customer Relationships

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.

Stabilizing interactions are service encounters which promote customer retention, particularly in the early stages of the relationship.  It is incumbent on an integrated digital-first banking model to stabilize new customers, without relying on the local branch to build the relationship.  It is important, therefore, to get the onboarding process right in a systematic way.

New customers are at the highest risk of defection, as they have had less opportunity to confirm the provider meets their expectations.  Turnover by new customers is particularly damaging to profits because many defections occur prior to recouping acquisition costs, resulting in a net loss on the customer relationship.  As a result, customer experience managers should stabilize the customer relationship early to ensure a return on acquisition costs. 

Systematic education drives customer expectations beyond simply informing customers about additional products and services; it also informs new customers how to use services more effectively and efficiently – this is going to be critical in a digital first integrated strategy.  Customers need to know how to navigate these channels effectively.  

Onboarding Research

The first step in designing a research plan for the onboarding process is to define the process itself.  Ask yourself, what type of stabilizing customer experiences do we expect at both the initial account opening and at discrete time periods thereafter (be it 30 days, 90 days, 1-year)?  Understanding the expectations of the onboarding process will define your research objectives, allowing an informed judgment of what to measure and how to measure it.

Kinesis recommends measuring the onboarding process by auditing the performance of the process and its influence on the customer relationship from the bank and customer perspective.

Bank Perspective: Performance Audits

Performance audits are a type of mystery shop, and an effective tool to audit the performance of the onboarding process.

First, mystery shop the initial account opening (across a channels: digital, contact center and branch) to evaluate its efficacy and effectiveness.  Be sure to link these observations to a dependent variable, such as purchase intent, to determine which service attributes drive purchase intent.  This will inform decisions with respect to training and incentives to reinforce the sales activities which drive purchase intent.

Beyond auditing the initial account opening experience, a performance audit of the onboarding process should test the presence and timing of specific onboarding events expected at discrete time periods.  As an example, you may expect the following onboarding process after a new account is opened:

Period Event
At Opening Internet Banking Presentation
Mobile Banking Presentation
Contact Center Presentation
ATM Presentation
Disclosures
1-10 Days Welcome Letter
Checks
Debit Card
Internet Banking Password
Overdraft Protection Brochure
Mobile Banking E-Mail
30-45 Days First Statement
Switch Kit
Credit Card Offer
Auto Loan Brochure
Mortgage/Home Equity Loan Brochure

In this example, the bank’s customer experience managers have designed a process to increase awareness of digital channels, introduce the integrated layered service concept, and introduce additional services offered.  An integrated research plan would recruit mystery shoppers for a long-term evaluation of the presence, timing, and effectiveness of each event in the onboarding process.

Customer Perspective

In parallel to auditing the presence and timing of onboarding events, research should be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the process in stabilizing the customer relationship by surveying new customers at distinct intervals after customer acquisition.  We recommend testing the effectiveness of the onboarding process by benchmarking three loyalty attitudes:

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

These three measures, tracked together throughout the onboarding process, will give managers a measure of the effectiveness of stabilizing the relationship.

Again, new customers are at an elevated risk of defection.  Therefore, it is important to stabilize the customer relationship early on to ensure ROI on acquisition costs.  A well-designed research process will give managers an important audit of both the presence and timing of onboarding events, as well as track customer engagement and loyalty early in their tenure.

In the next post, we will explore the third type of experience – experiences with a significant amount of influence on the customer relationship – critical experiences.

 

Click Here For More Information About Kinesis' Bank CX Research Services

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.

 

 

Click Here For More Information About Kinesis' Bank CX Research Services

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.

Click Here For More Information About Kinesis' Bank CX Research Services

 

Loyalty & Wallet Share

Loyalty. There is almost universal agreement that it is an objective – if not the objective – of customer experience management. It is highly correlated to profitably. It lowers sales and acquisition costs per customer by amortizing these costs across a longer lifetime – leading to extraordinary financial results. In retail banking a 5% increase in loyalty translates to an 85% increase in profits.

Loyalty

Loyalty is Emotion Driven

Banks often see themselves as transaction driven; delivery channels are evaluated on their cost per transaction. As a result, there is a lot of attention given to and investment in automated channels which reduce transaction costs and at the same time offer more convenience to customers. Win-win, right? The bank drives costs out of the transaction and customers get the convenience of performing a variety of transactions untethered by time or space. However, while transaction costs and convenience are important, loyalty is often driven by an emotional connection with the institution. An emotional connection fostered by interaction with actual employees at moments of need for the customers –moments with a high level of emotional importance to the customer – moments of truth.

Moments of truth are atypical events, where customers experience a high emotional energy in the outcome (such a lost credit card, loan application, or investment advice). In one study published in McKinsey Quarterly, positive experiences during moments of truth led to more than 85% of customers increasing wallet share by purchasing more products or investing more of their assets (Beaujean et al 06)

Impersonal alternative channels lack the ability to bind the customer to the institution. It’s the people. Effective handling of moments of truth requires frontline staff with the emotional tools or intelligence to recognize the emotional needs of the customer and bind them to the institution.

 

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The Human Element: Sales and Service, Bank’s Last Link in the Marketing Chain

What if I told you that after all your efforts with marketing (product, positioning and price), there is a one-in-ten chance the branch representatives will undermine the sale?

Now more than ever, it is critical for banks to establish themselves as the primary provider of financial services, not only for deposit accounts but across a variety of financial products and services.  Increasing the average products per customer will require a strategic approach to both product design and marketing.  However, at the end of this strategic marketing process, there is the human element, where prospective customers must interact with bank employees to complete the sales process.

Bank teller waiting on customer

As part of our services to our clients, Kinesis tracks purchase intent as a result of in-branch sales presentations.  According to our research, 10% of in-branch sales presentations observed by mystery shoppers, result in negative purchase intent.

What do these 10% failed sales presentations look like?

Here are some quotes describing the experience:

“There was no personal attention.  The banker did not seem to care if I was there or not.  At the teller line, there was only one teller that seemed to care that there were several people waiting.  No one moved with a sense of urgency.  There was no communication materials provided.”

Here’s another example…

“It was painfully obvious that the banker was lacking basic knowledge of the accounts.”

Yet another…

“Brian did not give the impression that he wanted my business.  He did not stand up and shake my hand when I went over to his desk.  He very rarely made eye contact.  I felt like he was just going through the motions. He did not ask for my name or address me by my name. He told me about checking account products but failed to inquire about my situation or determine what needs I have or might have in the future. He did not wrap up the recommendation by going over everything nor did he ask for my business. He did not thank me for coming in.”

In contrast, here is what the shops with positive intent look like:

“The appearance of the bank was comfortable and very busy in a good way. The customers were getting tended to and the associates had the customers’ best interests in mind. The response time was amazing and I felt as if the associate was sincere about wanting me as a customer, but he was not pushy or demanding about it.”

Now…after all the effort and expense of a strategic cross-sell strategy, which of the above experiences do you want your customers to encounter?

Would it be acceptable to you as a marketer to at the end of a strategic marketing campaign, have 10% of the sales presentations undermine its success?

These are rhetorical questions.

Time and time again, in study after study, we consistently observe that purchase intent is driven by two dimensions of the customer experience: reliability and empathy.  Customers want bankers who care about them and their needs and have the ability to satisfy those needs. Specifically, our research suggests the following behaviors are strongly related to purchase intent:

  • Friendly/Smile/Courteous
  • Greeting/Stand to Greet/Acknowledge Wait
  • Interest in Helping/Offer Assistance
  • Discuss Benefits/Solutions
  • Promised Services Get Done
  • Accuracy
  • Professionalism
  • Express Appreciation/Gracious
  • Personalized Comment (such as, How are you?)
  • Listen Attentively/Undivided Attention

As part of any strategic marketing campaign to both bring in new customers as well as increase wallet share of existing customers, it is incumbent on the institution to install appropriate customer experience training, sales and service monitoring, linked with incentives and rewards structures to motivate sales and service behaviors which drive purchase intent.




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The Customer Loyalty Illusion

There is no such thing as customer loyalty.  Loyalty…true loyalty… loyalty through thick and thin – requires an irrational customer, one who will stay with the bank regardless of the bank’s performance.

Every time a customer interacts with their bank, they may learn something as a result of the experience, and adjust their behavior as a result of what they learn. What we perceive as loyalty is an illusion, rather it is actually the product of an ongoing calculation each customer makes conscious or subconsciously to either initiate or maintain a relationship with a bank.  This is the customer value equation.

Customer Value = (Results + Process Quality + Intangible Benefits) - (Price + Other Acquisition Costs + Intangible Costs)

The customer value equation is simply the sum of the benefits of banking with a given institution minus the sum of the costs of choosing another provider.  If this sum is positive, the customer will act as if they are loyal.  If this sum is negative, the customer will behave as if they are disloyal.

The first term in this equation contains all the possible benefits associated with the bank.  These include the obvious, such as convenience of location or hours, rates and fees, breadth of delivery channels, and customer service.  However, they also include less obvious intangible benefits, such as doing business with a local community bank, or the prestige of one financial service provider over the other.

The second term contains the sum of all the costs associated with the banking relationship.  Again, the obvious are rates and fees.  However, there may be other acquisition costs, such as, the effort of switching providers, as well as intangible costs such as potential risk of switching financial providers. These intangible costs are significant, and play a significant role in what we perceive as customer loyalty, where customers remain with a financial institution more out of inertia, than other reasons.

A common objection to the customer value equation as a model of customer decision making is that it assumes that all customer decisions are completely rational, something that flies in the face of modern research using fMRI machines to probe the biological underpinning of decision makings.  This research strongly suggests that many decisions are neither conscious nor rational.  However, the customer value equation model allows for this equation to be subconscious and the intangible terms on both the cost and benefit side of the equation allow for irrational benefits and costs to be inserted into the customer’s decision making.

The proposition that customers are not loyal, and that behaviors we use to describe loyalty are really the result of an ongoing calculation of benefits and costs at first may seem daunting, but embracing the proposition that customers adjust their behavior based on what they perceive about a provider, gives managers a valuable model to think about customer loyalty in ways that mirror customer decision making. Understanding the customer value equation gives bank managers a rational framework to make investments in product, positioning, price and place to best match their offering with their customers’ value equations.

How might banks use the concept of the customer value equation to manage the customer experience?


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Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design

The question was simple enough…  If you owned customer experience measurement for one of your bank clients, what would you do?

Through the years, I developed a point of view of how to best measure the customer experience, and shared it with a number of clients, however, never put it down to writing.

So here it is…

Best practices in customer experience measurement use multiple inputs in a coordinated fashion to give managers a 360-degree view of the customer experience.  Just like tools in a tool box, different research methodologies have different uses for specific needs.  It is not a best practice to use a hammer to drive a screw, nor the butt end of a screwdriver to pound a nail.  Each tool is designed for a specific purpose, but used in concert can build a house. The same is true for research tools.  Individually they are designed for specific purposes, but used in concert they can help build a more whole and complex structure.

Generally, Kinesis believes in measuring the customer experience with three broad classifications of research methodologies, each providing a unique perspective:

  1. Customer Feedback – Using customer surveys and other less “scientific” feedback tools (such as comment tools and social media monitoring), managers collect valuable input into customer expectations and impressions of the customer experience.
  1. Observation Research – Using performance audits and monitoring tools such as mystery shopping and call monitoring, managers use these tools to gather observations of employee sales and service behaviors.
  1. Employee Feedback – Frontline employees are the single most underutilized asset in terms of understanding the customer experience. Frontline employees spend the majority of their time in the company-customer interface and as a result have a unique perspective on the customer experience.  They have a good idea about what customers want, how the institution compares to competitors, and how policies, procedures and internal service influence the customer experience.

These research methodologies are employed in concert to build a 360-degree view of the customer experience.

360-degree bank customer experience measurement

The key to building a 360-degree view of the customer experience is to understand the bank-customer interface.  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.

Customer 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.

Tools to measure the experience from the customer side of interface include:

Post-Transaction Surveys: Post-transaction surveys provide intelligence from the other side of customer-employee interface.  These surveys are targeted, event-driven, collecting feedback from customers about specific service encounters soon after the interaction occurs.  They provide valuable insight into both customer impressions of the customer experience, and if properly designed, insight into customer expectations.  This creates a learning feedback loop, where customer expectations can be used to inform service standards measured through mystery shopping.  Thus two different research tools can be used to inform each other.  Click here for a broader discussion of post-transaction surveys.

Customer Comments:  Beyond surveying customers who have recently conducted a service interaction, a best practice is to provide an avenue for customers who want to comment on the experience.  Comment tools are not new (in the past they were the good old fashioned comment card), 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.  Additionally, comment tools can be used to inform the post transaction surveys.  If common themes develop in customer comments, they can be added to the post-transaction surveys for a more scientific measurement of the issue.  Click here for a broader discussion of comment tools.

Social Monitoring:  Increasingly social media is “the media”; prospective customers assign far more weight to social media then any external messaging.  A social listening system that analyzes and responds to social indirect feedback is increasingly becoming essential.  As with comment tools, social listening can be used to inform the post transaction surveys.  Click here for a broader discussion of social listening tools.

Directing our attention to the bank side of the interface, tools to measure the experience from the bank side of bank-customer interface include:

Mystery Shopping:  In today’s increasing connected world, one bad experience could be shared hundreds if not thousands of times over.  As in-person delivery models shift to a universal associate model with the branch serving as more of a sales center, monitoring and motivating selling skills is becoming increasingly essential.  Mystery shopping is an excellent tool to align sales and service behaviors to the brand. Unlike the various customer feedback tools designed to inform managers about how customers feel about the bank, mystery shopping focuses on the behavioral side of the equation, answering the question: are our employees exhibiting appropriate sales and service behaviors?  Click here for a broader discussion of mystery shopping tools.

Employee Surveys:  Employee surveys often measure employee satisfaction and engagement.  However, in terms of understanding the customer experience, a best practice is to move employee surveys beyond employee engagement and to understand what is going on at the customer-employee interface by leveraging employees as a valuable and inexpensive resource of customer experience information.  This information comes directly out one side of the customer-employee interface, and provides not only intelligence into the customer experience, but also evaluates the level of support within the organization, solicit recommendations, and compares perceptions by position (frontline vs. management) to identify perceptual gaps which typically exist within organizations.  Click here for a broader discussion of employee surveys.

For more posts in this series, click on the following links:


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Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design: Customer Surveys

Post Transaction Surveys

Many banks conduct periodic customer satisfaction research to assess the opinions and experiences of their customer base. While this information can be useful, it tends to be very broad in scope, offering little practical information to the front-line.  A best practice is a more targeted, event-driven approach collecting feedback from customers about specific service encounters soon after the interaction occurs.

These surveys can be performed using a variety of data collection methodologies, including e-mail, phone, point-of-sale invite, web intercept, in-person intercept and even US mail.  Fielding surveys using e-mail methodology with its immediacy and relatively low cost, offers the most potential for return on investment.   Historically, there have been legitimate concerns about the representativeness of sample selection using email.  However, as the incidence of email collection of banks increases, there is less concern about sample selection bias.

The process for fielding such surveys is fairly simple.  On a daily basis, a data file (in research parlance “sample”) is generated containing the customers who have completed a service interaction across any channel.  This data file should be deduped, cleaned against a do not contact list, and cleaned against customers who have been surveyed recently (typically three months depending on the channel).  At this point, if you were to send the survey invitations, the bank would quickly exhaust the sample, potentially running out of eligible customers for future surveys.   To avoid this, a target of the required number of completed surveys should be set per business unit, and a random selection process employed to select just enough customers to reach this target without surveying every customer. [1]

So what are some of the purposes banks use these surveys for?   Generally, they fall into a number of broad categories:

Post-Transaction: Teller & Contact Center: Post-transaction surveys are event-driven, where a transaction or service interaction determines if the customer is selected for a survey, targeting specific customers shortly after a service interaction.  As the name implies, the purpose of this type of survey is to measure satisfaction with a specific transaction.

New Account & On-Boarding:  New account surveys measure satisfaction with the account opening process, as well as determine the reasons behind new customers’ selection of the bank for a new deposit account or loan – providing valuable insight into new customer identification and acquisition.

Closed Account Surveys:  Closed account surveys identify sources of run-off or churn to provide insight into improving customer retention.

Call to Action

Research without a call to action may be informative, but not very useful.  Call to action elements should be built into research design, which provide a road map for clients to maximize the ROI on customer experience measurement.

Finally, post-transaction surveys support other behavioral research tools.  Properly designed surveys yield insight into customer expectations, which provide an opportunity for a learning feedback loop to support observational research, such as mystery shopping, where customer expectations are used to inform service standards which are in turn measured through mystery shopping.

For more posts in this series, click on the following links:

 

[1] Kinesis uses an algorithm which factors in the targeted quota, response rate, remaining days in the month and number of surveys completed to select just enough customers to reach the quota without exhausting the sample.


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Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design: Mystery Shopping

Bank Mystery Shopping

“You can expect what you inspect.”

This management philosophy is as true today as it was 50 years ago when W. Edwards Deming used it.  Mystery shopping is more than a pure measurement technique conducted properly; it is an excellent motivational tool to motivate appropriate sales and service behaviors across all bank delivery channels.

Unlike the various customer feedback tools designed to inform managers about how customers feel about the bank, mystery shopping focuses on the behavioral side of the equation, answering the question: are our employees exhibiting appropriate sales and service behaviors?

It is the employees who animate the brand, and it is imperative that employee sales and service behaviors be aligned with the brand promise.  Actions speak louder than words.  Brands spend millions of dollars on external messaging to define an emotional connection with the customer.  However, when a customer perceives a disconnect between an employee representing the brand and external messaging, they almost certainly will experience brand ambiguity.  The result severely undermines these investments, not only for the customer in question, but their entire social network.  In today’s increasingly connected world, one bad experience could be shared hundreds if not thousands of times over.  Mystery shopping is an excellent tool to align sales and service behaviors to the brand.

So…what behaviors, channels and employees should be shopped?

Sales channels and sales behaviors offer the most ROI relative to other types of shopping.  In terms of prioritizing mystery shopping resources, shops of sales channels and sale behaviors should be the first priority.  With the increasing use of universal associates and transforming tellers into sellers, it is incumbent on managers to measure and motivate these higher level sales skills, in both branches and contact centers.  After sales behaviors have been prioritized, if resources remain for mystery shopping service scenarios can be included in the mix.

As for the specific measurements, the best practice for mystery shop design is to focus on empirically measureable employee behaviors captured with objective questions.  (Was a specific behavior present or not?…Yes or no).  The best methodology for deciding which questions to ask is to start with your brand promise, and determine which sales and service behaviors animate the brand.  Once you have developed a list of expected behaviors, the next step is to map each behavior to a specific question.  Avoid compound questions which ask about two different behaviors, unless you expect both behaviors to be present at the same time, and you are not worried about distinguishing if one is present without the other.

For more information about a process to align behaviors to the brand, click here: “5 Steps to Make Frontline Employees Authentic Representatives of the Brand”

Open-ended questions, either in narrative form or qualitatively asking what shoppers liked or disliked about the experience, add valuable context for understanding the customer experience.  Many clients consider these qualitative observations the heart of the shop.

While the core of the mystery shop is objective measurements of specific behaviors, there is a place for subjective impressions.  Rating scales are used to capture shopper impressions of various dimensions of the customer experience, as well as the overall experience itself.  These subjective ratings provide valuable context for interpreting the customer experience, and specifically the efficacy of the objective behaviors measured.  For example, purchase intent ratings calculate a correlation between the objective behaviors measured and purchase intent, identifying which behaviors may be more important in terms of driving purchase intent, and which investments in training, incentives and rewards have the most potential for ROI.

Finally, given mystery shopping measures employee behaviors against bank service standards, it is a best practice to calibrate and align service standards with customer expectations by constantly feeding information uncovered with the customer surveys back into the service standards and mystery shopping.  Such an informed feedback loop between customer surveys and mystery shopping will ensure the behaviors measured are aligned with customer expectations.

Call to Action

Research without a call to action may be informative, but not very useful.  Call to action elements should be built into research design, which provide a road map for clients to maximize the ROI on customer experience measurement.

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Leverage Unrecognized Experts in the Customer Experience: Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design – Employee Surveys

Bank Employee Surveys

Frontline customer facing employees (tellers, platform, and contact center agents) are a vastly underutilized resource in terms of understanding the customer experience.  They spend the majority of their time in the customer-bank interface, and as a result tend to be unrecognized experts in the customer experience.

An excellent tool to both leverage this frontline experience and identify any perceptual gaps between management and the frontline is to survey all levels of the organization to gather impressions of the customer experience.  This survey can be fielded very efficiently with an online survey.

Typically, we start by asking employees to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and to ask how customers would rate their satisfaction with the customer experience, including specific dimensions and attributes of the experience.  A key call-to-action element of these surveys tends to be a question asking employees what they think customers most like or dislike about the service delivery.

Next we focus employees on their own experience, asking the extent to which they believe they have all the tools, training, processes, policies, customer information, coaching, staff levels, empowerment, and support of both their immediate supervisor and senior management to deliver on the company’s service promise.  Call-to-action elements can be designed into this portion of the research by asking what, in their experience, leads to customer frustration or disappointment, and soliciting suggestions for improvement.   Perhaps most interesting, we ask what are some of the strategies the employee uses to make customers happy.   This is an excellent source for identifying best practices and potential coaches.

Finally, comparing results across the organization identifies any perceptual gaps between the frontline and management.  This can be a very illuminating activity.

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