Forrester research analyses banking CX trends in the US

Forrester Research recently published their annual survey of US banking customer experience, featuring analysis of service at 28 different banks. Although I’m focused more on the UK and European markets, it’s always interesting to see these CX index surveys from Forrester because banking trends in one market very quickly go global due to the very global nature of the industry.

So what were the most interesting observations from the research? The standouts for me were:

  • The new online-only (or direct) banks attract new business primarily by focusing on a great customer experience. Fortunately for these banks, 73% of their customers do actually think they provide a great experience.
  • The traditional banks get very little loyalty from doing what their customers expect a bank should be able to do - such as tell them what is in their account. The main communication failure of retail banks (in the opinion of customers) is not offering more advice and guidance for customers - such as categorising their spending and telling them that their outgoings on restaurants have dramatically increased this month. Customers expect more intelligence and insight into their spending, not just a balance.
  • Online banks need to focus on making customers feel appreciated, confident, and valued if they want to achieve loyalty from customers. If these banks make the customer feel valued 90% of customers will advocate for the brand - essentially telling their friends and family what a great bank they use.
  • Traditional banks don’t feel that boosting the confidence of their customers is part of what they should be doing - they focus on respecting the customer and 67% of traditional bank customers say that this is what they expect most from their bank.

What I think really stands out here applies beyond the US market alone. There are different customer expectations when the customers of traditional banks are compared to those who use online-only banks. Traditional customers expect deference and respect, traditional banking values. Online customers expect the bank to be more of a lifestyle assistant that can empower and guide their spending.

Managing these very different expectations will be a challenge, particularly as the viability of large branch networks is being challenged. It could even mean that the traditional banks need to streamline their branch operations and launch spin-off Fintechs to satisfy a new generation of customers who have completely different expectations. What do you think about these research insights? Please leave a comment here or get in touch on LinkedIn with your views on banking and CX.


A customer-centric approach could be a winning formula for Monzo

British startup bank Monzo has doubled in value since February this year and increased their customer base from 120,000 to 470,000 in the same period. Monzo launched as a card-only service back in October 2015 and only received a banking license in April 2016.

Monzo has been financed by various City investment firms and venture capital organisations, but they have also raised money using crowdfunding - essentially asking customers and fans of the brand to put money into the company. In March last year they raised £1m for the company in 96 seconds with a crowdfunding campaign - that is the fastest crowdfunding campaign in history.

Monzo isn’t making any money yet. Using traditional financial measures of success it's a small startup that is still struggling to make any returns for investors, but this company is quite different to most in the financial services sector. It’s the first time I have ever seen a finance company called ‘cool’ by a large number of customers. They are taking on so many new customers, they cannot cope with the demand. About 25,000 are on a waiting list at present.

What makes this bank different? They don’t have any branches and all services are managed between a card and app. The difference is that this is a bank that revolves completely around the customer. It’s not a traditional bank that is aiming to improve their customer service function. This service was designed with the needs of the customer as the core of what they do.

The CEO, Tom Blomfield, doesn’t even talk about Monzo as a bank, he calls it a control hub for all your financial arrangements. Blomfield fully expects it to mature into a service that controls how you spend your money - warning if you are eating out too often for example - and switching you to the best value electricity provider automatically.

Not all the promised functionality is there yet, but the spending controls are and this functionality is wildly popular with millennial users who sometimes find it difficult to keep track of a traditional current account if payments take several days to arrive in the account. Monzo keeps track of all your spending, categorises it instantly and the app can provide insight into what you have in your account in real-time.

Blomfield isn’t restricting his vision to the UK alone. He says that he wants to have a billion users on the system, which is an ambition far beyond even the largest of British banks. What is important to note about his vision and the Monzo approach though is that they have not asked, how can we put a bank account on an app? They have asked people, what are the problems you have keeping a control on your spending and getting the best deals from utilities and service providers?

I don’t know if Monzo will succeed, but they are off to a good start. This customer-centric approach is how many of the success stories of the future are going to start out. Build your business around services that customer wants today, not how your industry functioned in the past. Can Monzo be the future of banking? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or get in touch on LinkedIn.


Webhelp Recognised at the 2017 HR Network Awards

 

Leading global customer experience expert, Webhelp, has been awarded the Organisational Development of The Year Award at this year’s HR Network Awards.

The Awards, held in the plush surroundings of Glasgow’s Hilton hotel last night (Nov 9), were presented by BBC Scotland personality Stephen Jardine and were attended by 800 people from the Scottish business and HR communities.

The HR Network National Awards are recognised as the largest and most prestigious HR awards in Scotland and are designed to recognise, acknowledge and reward the champions of the Scottish HR profession.

Webhelp were singled out for the Organisation Development Award because of the work that has been accomplished over the past 24 months to transition the team to an international remit, covering South Africa and India as well as the UK, at the same time as re-engineering the entire functional structure of the team.

 

Gillian Campbell, Webhelp’s People Director, said: “I am extremely proud of our people team for bringing home this prestigious award.

“Over the past 24 months the team has enhanced the support we can give to our colleagues across the UK, India and South Africa, while restructuring to allow the business to deliver major organisational change at the same time as supporting significant business growth.

“Our colleagues are hugely important to us at Webhelp and are key to our success. The people team is working hard to support the business to deliver a continuously improving employee experience. Being recognised by the HR Network Awards demonstrates that we are making good progress and we will continue to build on that.”


One Third of UK Adults Are Worried About Their Financial Future

  • 33% are worried about the rising cost of living
  • 35% of people looking to take out new credit would use it to pay for general living expenses
  • 80% of people have a credit card, loan or both

Leading global customer experience expert, Webhelp, has unveiled a worrying picture of financial stress among UK adults with its latest consumer survey.

The online survey of 500 adults revealed that 33% were concerned about their financial future because of the rising cost of living. When you break down the data some groups are more concerned than others, with a worrying 47% of people earning less than £10k pa and 41% of people aged 45-54 saying they were worried about their financial future because of the rising cost of living. The least concerned group were the over 65s, with 17% citing the increasing cost of living as a concern.

Overall, just 16% of people said they had no financial worries.

The survey also highlighted how integral a role credit is playing in people’s lives, with 80% surveyed having either credit card(s), loan(s) or both.

More than a quarter of people (26%) said they would be looking to take out more credit in the next six months and more than a third of those (35%) said they needed more credit to pay for general living expenses, such as food and heating. That figure rises to 43% of men, 46% of people earning more than £40k pa, 47% of 35-44 year-olds and almost two thirds (65%) of 18-24 year-olds.

This comes on top of the revelation that 82% of those surveyed had an outstanding balance on their existing credit cards or loans and that only 17% of people had managed to reduce those balances over the last 12 months. 64% of people said they had the same amount, or more, credit outstanding when compared to 12 months ago.

Andrew Bailey, head of the Financial Conduct Authority, warned on Oct 16, 2017, that the increasing cost of living is forcing millenials into debt. “We should not think this is reckless borrowing,” Bailey said. “This is directed at essential living costs. It is not credit in the classic sense, it is [about] the affordability of basic living.”

The Webhelp survey results echo research conducted by price comparison website Comparethemarekt.com released on Oct 30, 2017. That survey found the average person in the UK is in debt to the tune of £8,000 (not including mortgages) and that 6 million Brits don’t think they’ll ever be debt free.

Government statistics for England and Wales released last week show applications for individual voluntary arrangements, which help people repay their debts at an affordable amount, had reached their highest level ever.

David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, India and SA, said: “These survey results paint a concerning picture. Credit is an important part of people’s day to day lives and many people are using it to pay for general living costs such as heating and food.

“People are feeling compelled to take on more credit at a time when wage rises are falling behind inflation.  This makes it extremely important to ensure there are no barriers to discussion between borrower and lender, so that if people get into difficulties they feel comfortable addressing it. Being able to offer multi-channel contact options and a data-driven, insight-led customer experience solution is essential.”

 

 


What are the key trends that will shape retail in 2018?

Brian Solis is an analyst and futurist who often have interesting views that challenge conventional wisdom. I saw an article he published a few months ago focused on the retail industry where he listed eleven trends reshaping retail globally and what caught my attention was how few of the trends I had seen commented on by other analysts.

Take a look at three of the eleven trends he mentions.

  • Invest in the trust economy, be transparent, and earn reciprocity through facilitation of open engagement and commerce.
  • Balance webrooming and showrooming by investing in mutually-beneficial experiences and outcomes on both sides.
  • Take a fresh look at space and consider it a blank slate. Ask yourself and your team, what if we could build a physical store that brought the digital and real-world together to deliver intuitive and indispensable experiences? That's what Amazon is doing.

Just consider how different this advice is when compared to what the retailers were focused on just five years ago. In fact, building on what Brian says, I think there are questions that retailers need to ask today about their entire business model. We are no longer just talking about how to improve the customer experience - changing customer expectations may in fact be redefining how your company lives or dies. To start with I would suggest thinking about these three topics:

  • What are you doing? What products do you sell? Is there a better way for customers to engage with your products than through a retail store? I’ve often talked about Dollar Shave Club in the past, but it’s always worth exploring how they turned the men’s grooming market upside down by shifting from retail to a subscription model. Should you be exploring similar innovations in your own area of retail? If you sell shirts, couldn’t that also work as a subscription business?
  • Accept that customers use mobile devices. The omni-channel customer is a reality. Customers research products online, then come to stores to see them in person and they also carry out research in-store. Accept that webrooming and showrooming happens. You can’t fight it. Blend the online and in-store experience so you embrace how customers research and purchase products today.
  • Create relationships. Customer service now is not just transactional and based on a customer contacting a brand because they have a problem they can’t fix. Customers actually want a better relationship with retail brands and they will engage in social discussions if you provide the opportunity for them to say something.

The future of retail is not just being defined by drones and mobile payment options. It may be that you need to entirely rethink your business model because what has worked for decades no longer works when customers have unlimited information and choice in their pocket. Take a look at the complete list of trends Brian Solis wrote about and let me know what you think might be important in 2018 by leaving a comment here or get in touch on LinkedIn.


What are the key trends that will shape retail in 2018?

Brian Solis is an analyst and futurist who often have interesting views that challenge conventional wisdom. I saw an article he published a few months ago focused on the retail industry where he listed eleven trends reshaping retail globally and what caught my attention was how few of the trends I had seen commented on by other analysts.

Take a look at three of the eleven trends he mentions.

  • Invest in the trust economy, be transparent, and earn reciprocity through facilitation of open engagement and commerce.
  • Balance webrooming and showrooming by investing in mutually-beneficial experiences and outcomes on both sides.
  • Take a fresh look at space and consider it a blank slate. Ask yourself and your team, what if we could build a physical store that brought the digital and real-world together to deliver intuitive and indispensable experiences? That's what Amazon is doing.

Just consider how different this advice is when compared to what the retailers were focused on just five years ago. In fact, building on what Brian says, I think there are questions that retailers need to ask today about their entire business model. We are no longer just talking about how to improve the customer experience - changing customer expectations may in fact be redefining how your company lives or dies. To start with I would suggest thinking about these three topics:

  • What are you doing? What products do you sell? Is there a better way for customers to engage with your products than through a retail store? I’ve often talked about Dollar Shave Club in the past, but it’s always worth exploring how they turned the men’s grooming market upside down by shifting from retail to a subscription model. Should you be exploring similar innovations in your own area of retail? If you sell shirts, couldn’t that also work as a subscription business?
  • Accept that customers use mobile devices. The omni-channel customer is a reality. Customers research products online, then come to stores to see them in person and they also carry out research in-store. Accept that webrooming and showrooming happens. You can’t fight it. Blend the online and in-store experience so you embrace how customers research and purchase products today.
  • Create relationships. Customer service now is not just transactional and based on a customer contacting a brand because they have a problem they can’t fix. Customers actually want a better relationship with retail brands and they will engage in social discussions if you provide the opportunity for them to say something.

The future of retail is not just being defined by drones and mobile payment options. It may be that you need to entirely rethink your business model because what has worked for decades no longer works when customers have unlimited information and choice in their pocket. Take a look at the complete list of trends Brian Solis wrote about and let me know what you think might be important in 2018 by leaving a comment here  or get in touch via my LinkedIn.


Retailers are ready for AI marketing, but technical skills remain a barrier

The way that retailers interact with their customers is changing faster than ever before. Customers are demanding an increasingly personal service that effectively means that marketing teams are trying to develop messaging from the brand to a single customer. It helps that there is now so much customer data around, but can Artificial Intelligence play a role in helping retailers get the right message in front of their customers?

Experts believe so and it’s possible to already see some specific areas where AI can change the way that brands position themselves.

  • Analytics on analytics: we have more data on customer history, customer preferences, and customer behaviour, but it can be difficult to cut through the noise. By applying intelligent systems to the data you have on your customers it can be possible to identify trends and opportunities that regular analysis performed by a human might miss.
  • Learning from all experience: by capturing all customer interactions and applying Machine Learning the system can build a picture of how every customer interacts with the retailer. This can be immensely powerful in trying to locate key points in the customer journey when a choice was made.
  • Customer preference: customers are themselves getting used to using their own intelligent systems. Look at how many people are now comfortable asking systems such as Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri for help. Customers will soon feel more comfortable handing over tasks to AI agents that act on their behalf - finding a hotel for example. Why spend hours searching when you could teach a virtual assistant what you value in a hotel and then allow it to find something good?

All these changes are coming fast. The final point will mean that your company needs to allow automated agents running with AI to make enquiries and purchase decisions. Are you ready for those interactions? All of these ideas require an ability to understand some quite complex concepts and analytic systems - it’s highly likely that anyone working on a marketing system using this technology requires the ability to code software.

But I work in marketing. I’m not a computer programmer might be your initial response, but look around. Every professional job where tools like AI can act as virtual assistants will soon have humans controlling systems that allow them to be more productive. One person controlling an AI system could perform the work of many.

So it’s not just marketing. Accountants and HR professionals will also be seen that coding and data analysis are requirements for jobs in their field soon. This is going to be a problem for marketing professionals with long experience in the industry, but increasingly we will find that marketing graduates are trained in coding and AI skills.

I think there is a danger that customer expectations may change so fast that marketing professionals with the right skills will be in short supply, but that’s also an opportunity for marketing professionals. If you have marketing skills then why not explore how you can improve your technical skills? In 2018, and beyond, you will never be short of employment opportunities! Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or get in touch on LinkedIn.