by Jeannie Walters People are understandably picky about the brands they engage with. And that’s especially true when the brand is directly tied to their financial lives.
More than half of customers say they will stop shopping with a business (even one they otherwise like!) after several bad experiences.  Customers that left a bank or financial services company in the last year gave two main reasons: bad product or service experiences, and bad customer service.
Can you blame them? Inconsistent and frustrating experiences fuel dissatisfaction. Customers shouldn’t:
Spend hours in a support queue to solve a recurring issue.
Navigate a glitchy mobile app to access important services.
Get lost when browsing your website to make a purchase.
Customers have little reason to endure poor experiences, especially when there are plenty of other banks or financial service providers they can choose from.
The key is for customer experience and customer service leaders to actively listen to the voice of the customer and apply insights to improve the end-to-end customer experience. So, what does it take to get the necessary data and use it effectively? That’s a task riddled with challenges, such as disjointed technologies, fragmented data, and manual processes with no automation. But the companies that do this right will provide an optimal financial services customer experience that beats the competition.
Using the voice of the customer to improve financial services experiences
Technology advancements reinvented how customers expect to engage with brands. Americans now prefer to use a mobile app or web browser to access self-service options instead of visiting a physical branch.  Entirely virtual “neobanks” don’t even offer physical branches so they can focus on digital services. And the future holds even more technology solutions that financial services leaders will need to integrate into the customer journey.
It’s essential to provide a seamless experience across online, mobile, and in-person interactions. To do so, your customer data must flow across your systems in real-time. When customers visit a local branch or access your services online, they should feel like the experience is personalized just for them.
Luckily, it’s easier than you might think to apply your customer data and create healthy feedback cycles. With the right foundation, you can create a more effortless omnichannel experience that boosts customer loyalty.
The following four areas are the essential places to start.
Meet customers on the channels of their choice
Customers are much more likely to engage with you and share their feedback on the channel of their choice. Use this to your advantage. (And to the delight of customers!)
Some financial services executives may think social media is unnecessary, for example, but customers actually say social media offers the best opportunities for brands to connect with them. 
Create a list of every channel where customers can approach your company or access your services. This list should include your website, physical branches, mobile app, email, social media, text messaging, and other relevant channels. Now comes the big question: Do these cover all the places where your customers want to engage with you?
Ask customers about their preferred communication and service channels through your existing avenues. Use short polls, questionnaires, or even informal customer interviews to gather valuable insights that will help you strengthen your digital and physical footprint.
Listen to what they say (and learn from it!)
Financial services leaders need to understand how customers feel about their brand and the potential problems they’ve encountered to then improve their experience. These insights are often gained through customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores and sentiment analysis.
CSAT is a traditionally used measurement because the scores can provide quick insight into how customers feel about their relationships with your brand. The scores reflect the percentage of customers that feel positively about specific interactions, like a customer service conversation or overall product experience. While CSAT surveys can be easy to implement and understand, they aren’t perfect. Many customers will not fill out a survey, meaning there is a potential bias in the score alone.
Sentiment analysis is often used to augment CSAT findings and offer insights about where you should prioritize. Sentiment analysis evaluates interactions from customer support calls and emails and uses social listening to identify specific problem areas that your team can address like poor customer service wait times or a confusing product experience. It also shows you areas where you exceed customer expectations.
Advanced customer experience solutions combine CSAT insights and sentiment analysis insights with other metrics around service quality, customer engagement, and customer loyalty from across the customer journey, including unsolicited feedback. This depth provides a more reliable measure of your customer satisfaction (and more customer insights that you should leverage!).
The key is to ask customers for feedback in context and on the channel of their choice. If SMS is a customer’s preferred channel, for example, then you should send a survey through text. Surveys are also an effective way to understand how the customer experience differs across self-service and agent-assisted experiences, as well as digital and in-person interactions.
Remember that all customer feedback, good and bad, can help you shape a better customer journey. Actively ask for their opinions and show them you’re listening. Doing so will make their experience significantly better.
Simplify your tech stack
Disjointed technology will make it harder for your agents to engage your customers in meaningful ways. Narrowing down your reliance on multiple vendors makes it easier to collect and apply your customer insights.
Your customer experience solutions should integrate with each other so all of your customer data is available where your team needs it. If there is a tool that does not integrate with your customer relationship management software, then it is a data silo (and you should remove it!).
An optimal tech stack will help your agents perform at their best and empower them to continually improve the customer experience. Are you unsure what challenges your agents face with your current tools? Ask them! Savvy financial services leaders directly speak with their customer service and sales representatives about their digital experience. What roadblocks do they face in providing optimal customer experiences?
The best vendors listen to your feedback and introduce new features or capabilities that address your team’s needs. Artificial intelligence, for example, can greatly boost your team’s ability to act on your customer data, so you should seek solutions that have practical AI capabilities.
Keep in regular touch with your team members to identify new challenges they’re facing or ways that you can further improve their technology experience. With the right tools that enable your team to act on your customer data at moments that matter, you should see your CSAT and sentiment scores boost over time. And that means more loyalty and customers who will eagerly recommend your brand to their friends!
Coach employees to become customer advisors
Let’s not forget about another important element in driving better customer experiences: leaders need to guide and coach their employees. Invest in their development and ensure they clearly understand how they become customer advisors.
Customers expect branch or call center agents to be knowledgeable about everything a company offers and provide effective customer service. Over time, customers may even build relationships with their favorite branch office and want agents that understand them as individuals and can help them throughout their financial journey.
Continually train employees based on your customer insights, including details from your call center recordings and sentiment analysis. Create messaging sheets and documents that guide your team through common customer questions or support needs. An ideal customer experience technology will enable agents to quickly find answers and use customer data to provide customized support in real-time.
To showcase one company that has done this exceedingly well: Toyota Financial Services (TFS) empowered its agents to transform the customer experience by doubling down on its voice of the customer program. As a global auto finance agency that services auto loans in more than 30 countries, the TFS team saw an opportunity to expand and deepen its customer feedback by directly surveying dealerships and embedding interaction recordings into survey results. This information was then used to coach its agents. Using CXone Feedback Management, TFS improved visibility into its customer experience performance and behaviors, made it faster to troubleshoot customer issues, and drove more personalized and focused agent coaching.
Talk about a winning strategy!
Increase your customer loyalty one interaction at a time
Companies can no longer expect their customers to remain loyal. Modern customers have more options than ever to access banking and related financial services, and the brands that provide a truly personalized experience will continue to attract and keep customers.
To deliver on these high expectations, meet customers where they are and offer self-service options to support their busy lifestyles. Actively combine CSAT scores with sentiment analysis and other customer experience metrics to learn how you can offer better services, and ensure your tech stack supports the easy flow of this information.
The voice of the customer will guide you to exceed their expectations. Are you listening?