Financial institutions (FIs) have opportunities every day to turn their existing and potential customers from applicants into something much more powerful: advocates. How? By putting the customer first and creating an easy, personalized experience for each individual.
Customer experience (CX) is a make or break concern for FIs in our increasingly digital society. Because FIs offer many of the same products (and often at the same rates/terms), the key way they can differentiate is by creating exceptional customer interactions from the very beginning.
Without great experiences for customers, FIs risk losing business. Research form Genesys shows that “after a poor experience, 71% of consumers will end their relationship” and “61% will go to a competitor.”
How can FIs prevent that attrition, especially when it comes to new applications? It’s all about effective use of technology to save customers time and make the process as easy as possible.
A New Application Situation: Opportunity is Knocking
When a prospect applies for a product at any particular FI, they are expressly saying that they want to start a relationship. By eliminating friction and easing them through the initial application process, FIs can create advocates that will spread the good word about the organization. FIs can use several tactics to ease prospects through the application and generate the goodwill they want.
First, the organization should ensure that any application screen is responsive for PC, tablet, and mobile use. Give the customer choices and let her apply through the channel that is most convenient for her. When FIs enable customers to apply through familiar channels, they are meeting the customer on her own terms and delivering excellent experiences.
Second, use a service that allows the applicant to scan an ID for initial information capture. In addition to checking off a box on the fraud prevention scorecard, the FI is making it easy for the customer by not requiring her to enter all her information, one piece at a time, into an application screen. This approach helps the customer complete the application quickly, while also working to mitigate risk for the organization.
Third, only require the minimum amount of information to get an application processed. By minimizing the number of fields she has to complete, the FI is demonstrating respect for the customer’s time.
Finally, make your application process e-signature friendly. Once the customer is engaged in a digital channel, don’t introduce friction by requiring an in-person signature at the branch. With a secure e-signature solution in place, the customer is equipped with all the tools to finish her application on her terms – and still get the products she needs.
Keeping Current Customers Contented
The same approaches outlined above will also work for current customers, but here is where an FI has even more opportunity to make a positive impact. With a digitally enabled application system, the FI is already ahead of the game.
Because they already have a relationship with the company, the current customer has a set of expectations for their interactions. When an FI uses the information they know about the customer to streamline the application process, they can create an experience that goes above and beyond those expectations and helps develop new advocates.
In addition to the CX initiatives outlined above, banks can use data pulls from internal systems to prefill customer information and accelerate the application process. By using the information it has readily available about an individual, the FI demonstrates its commitment to personally relevant interactions with the customer. They are also making it faster and easier for the customer to complete the process and get an answer about the credit product they are requesting.
One other way to deliver the best customer experiences is to keep customers entertained and informed throughout the application. If a customer submits an application, and the FI knows that it will have a processing delay, the FI can present an informational video or some relevant details to occupy the customer’s time.
Proactive communication also goes a long way to keep customers satisfied. Sending an email or text, or showing a screen that gives the customer the current application status, lets them know exactly where they are in the process. By communicating early and often, FIs can demonstrate their transparency and their commitment to resolving any outstanding issues.
That transparency helps keep customers happy and coming back for more. Conversely, the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study found that “[u]nsuccessful problem resolution is highly correlated with low levels of satisfaction and high levels of customer attrition.” FIs that fail to proactively communicate and resolve customer issues do so at their own peril.
A Rosy Future
The FIs that make the application process easy and intuitive will generate happy customers. Those happy customers are the best advocates a bank can have, as their word of mouth will influence family and friends. When referrals submit an application, their experience with an automated and digitally enabled system will meet the expectations they have, resulting in more customer advocates.
Creating that initial delight can help FIs increase wallet share for each new and existing customer. Continued focus on customer experience for anyone that walks into a branch or applies online will be one of the key differentiators for the successful FIs of the future.
 Tincher, J., & Genesys. (2017, February 7). Smash Your Silos For Customer Experience Success. The Financial Brand. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from https://thefinancialbrand.com/63698/customer-experience-banking-cx-silos-research-report/