What financial services customers want (vs. what they get)

Recent research from Avaya shows that, not only does a gap exist, but it’s more important than ever to fill it

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Avaya omni-channel financial services

I’m a tougher customer than my husband.

Three years ago I wanted to set up a new GIC. Since I already had another GIC with the same investment firm, I figured it’d be a snap.

Instead, I ended up in a snit. After searching fruitlessly for this function on the

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company’s website, I had to call and leave a message (yes, really) requesting help.

About a day later someone called me back to explain they didn’t yet offer online transactions. I’d have to wait for a form to arrive in the mail, sign it and then mail it back to their office.

Which was the exact moment I decided to bail, switching all my investments to Another Company. Why? I’d recently opened a high-interest savings account with Another Company. Quickly. On the Internet. And it was, comparatively, super awesome.

My husband was horrified. A longtime friend of ours happened to be a manager at the firm I’d pulled my money from. Would our friend think me disloyal for taking my money elsewhere? Perhaps. But then he’d only be thinking of me as a friend – not as a customer.

Maybe I should mail him a copy of Avaya’s recent survey of 153 financial sector managers and 8,500 consumers around the world. A few years after I had my own disappointing customer experience, it looks like there’s still a huge gap between the kind of service that financial customers want and what they actually get.

Among customers:

– 70 per cent expect financial firms to “link all threads of communication together in real-time time across channels”

– 70 per cent also expect customer-facing staff “to have a single view of them in real-time when they contact the company”

– 92 per cent expect to be “proactively notified of an issue and offered a solution”

– 69 per cent expect to be “contacted the way they want, when they want with products and services tailored to their preferences and shopping habits”

Among financial services firms:

– 97 per cent say customer experience management (CEM) is an important or extremely important part of their strategy …

– … yet only 64 per cent actually have a comprehensive CEM program in place

– obstacles cited in meeting customer expectations: lack of customer insights (55 per cent), technology limitations (44 per cent), inflexible business processes (37 per cent), inadequately trained staff (32 per cent)

Since financial firms face tighter regulatory constraints than most others, I’m surprised compliance wasn’t cited specifically as an obstacle to meeting customer expectations (though perhaps it got lumped in under one of the listed categories). Complaints about “technology limitations” are likely that ongoing albatross, legacy IT. Couldn’t big data and analytics help address the “lack of customer insights”? Tackling “inflexible business processes” and “inadequately trained staff” goes way deeper than technology, however.

The most compelling numbers here for money managers? Among financial firms that do have a CEM program, 98 per cent have seen improved customer retention, loyalty and satisfaction; 79 per cent have recorded “significant profit increases.”

In other words, omni-channel CEM works. I could have vouched for that three years ago. My husband is still friends with Mr. Money Manager. And he’s still signing and mailing paper forms, too.

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