A Call for More Consistent and Better Customer Experiences

Allison Paine Landers, Head of Enterprise Experience Design at Prudential Financial

When Banking CIO Outlook reached out to ask if I’d be interested in writing an article for this special Customer Experience edition, my initial instinct was to say no. I stepped away from the banking industry 5 years ago and didn’t want my examples to come across to you, their smart readers, as out of date.

Then I remembered that, although I may no longer officially work in banking, I’m still very much a consumer of it. And, there’s no better way to way to improve your understanding of the current state experience you deliver than to listen to your customers. That’s why it’s part of the mantra I’ve honed over my 22+ years in Marketing, Digital Product/Channel Management, and Customer Experience– “know your customers, listen to your customers and make things easier for them.”

The 10 years I was in banking, 2005 to 2015, represent a time of significant change and digitization. The industry launched an all-new channel w/Mobile optimized Web sites, Apps, and Text Messaging, mainstreamed important, game-changing capabilities like Multi-Factor Authentication and Remote Deposit Capture, and started servicing customers in their channels of choice -- via email, Chat, and Social Media. I was lucky enough to drive much of this at the two banks I worked for and to learn alongside the best in the business through my involvement w/ groups like the Consumer Bankers Association’s Digital Channels Committee. The decade was as challenging and rewarding for me as my .com days.

In comparison, as a customer, it feels like there hasn’t been as much progress made in banking for the last 5 years. Several of the capabilities introduced during my time appear to be at a standstill instead of continuously evolving as they should. For example, why does it still take 4 clicks to submit an eBill payment? I know this is a question for a popular Bill Pay vendor and not my current bank, but customers don’t know or care where functionality comes from—which means they blame you for theextra3 clicks on your site. Or, why am I still asked a security question every time I log in from my laptop – especially when you keep asking and I keep answering that I want you to remember it?

"Best practices should be applied more consistently, to every nook and cranny of your customer journeys b/c the gaps between what’s working vs. not are increasingly obvious and frustrating"

These examples ladder up to what I see as the greatest opportunity for the banking industry. Customer experiences are end-to-end and omni-channel and must be designed and managed that way. Best practices should be applied more consistently, to every nook and cranny of your customer journeys b/c the gaps between what’s working vs. not are increasingly obvious and frustrating. I don’t think I have to remind you that the experiences you deliver are now being compared to every other experience your customers are having w/ every other brand in every channel. If you don’t make them better, someone else will. And, when they do, they will steal your customers b/c switching banks is no longer that hard.

To highlight what I mean, I’ll walk you through my recent experience of financing a new car.

The application and approval processes were easy – the dealership picked the lender (a bank I’m a former customer of) and facilitated all the paperwork. A few weeks later, I got a letter in the mail from the bank w/ information about my loan and payments. I went to the bank’s Web site and (re-)enrolled in Online Banking so I could set up automatic payments. When I logged in, the site would only let me initiate a single same-day payment. I couldn’t future date my payment or make it recur as I’d expected…both capabilities I know are available on the site for other products. Thinking it could be poor design and/or user error, I clicked the Chat icon and asked for help.

According to the rep, to set up a recurring payment for an auto loan, I’d have to print a form off the site, fill it out and mail or fax it in. And, due to processing time, it would take at least one cycle to go into, she recommended I make a separate one-time payment in the meantime and check back for status. She sent me the link to the form and asked if there was anything else she could do to help. I answered “Yes! Please enable future-dated and/or recurring payments for auto loans on your Web site. Or, at a minimum, make the request form fillable and submit-able Online.” Silence.

B/c the paper form route sounded like way too much work, I opted to skip the hassle and set up the monthly payment as a Bill Pay from my primary bank. I’m guessing the average customer wouldn’t think to do that. They’d probably follow the process as instructed, cursing the bank the whole time. And, you know something would inevitably go wrong…

If the bank built out basic payment functionality Online for its auto loans so it works the way customers expect it to, they would deliver a better experience while taking out a fair amount of wasted effort and costs. When done right, improving Customer Experience delivers a true win/win…and ROI.

This brings me back to my mantra. To “know your customers, listen to your customers, and make things easier for them,” you need to understand what you’re currently making them do to accomplish a task from start to finish. If you ask them for feedback, they’ll provide it, like I just did. Then you need to make use of the feedback to think about – if you were designing the experience today (or Google was), how would it work? And, start chipping away at the gap b/w your current and desired states.

Customers don’t expect perfection, but they do want to see traction. As a customer, I’m eager to see how the banking industry evolves its experience over the next 5 years.



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