While 2020 will certainly go down in history as the year that rocked our economic foundations, it’s not the only period to have done so. Just 12 years prior, we experienced the Global Financial Crisis, allegedly the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Traditional retail banks were largely blamed for the 2008 crisis, and consumer trust in them plummeted—this trust has not been regained yet, according to an Accenture report.
However, the COVID-19 era presents an ideal opportunity for banks to win back customer trust. This is especially critical in a market that has become fiercely competitive in recent years, with more and more Fintech firms and neo-banks arriving on the scene. But unlike 2008, banks are not responsible for our current predicament. They are crucial in helping customers navigate their way through it, and it’s an act that could leave a lasting impression. As stated in the Accenture report, “The decisions and actions that banks take now as the COVID-19 crisis plays out will have a big effect on customers’ prospects and will be remembered for years to come.”
To successfully regain customer trust, retail banks must adopt a customer-centric approach. By putting customers at the centre of everything they do and every decision they make, banks will be able to provide a great customer experience. This is key to earning customer trust and loyalty. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2022, 61% of consumers report that they now have higher customer service standards after this past year’s crisis. When banks meet or exceed these expectations, they build trust with their customers.
Adopting a customer-centric approach also means listening to your customers and meeting them where they are. In other words, communicate with your customers on the channels they feel most comfortable using—whether that’s phone, email, or social media and messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Customers use these channels on a daily basis with friends and family, so they will feel comfortable using them to contact businesses. But they will expect fast, personalised, secure, and uninterrupted real-time support—banks must be prepared to deliver. This level of engagement not only allows banks to build meaningful relationships with their customers but also facilitates personal interactions that will help strengthen that trust. Indeed, consumers now demand conversational experiences, and many companies are responding. As the Zendesk CX Trends Report 2022 reveals, a third of companies have already integrated conversational customer service capabilities, with another 37% actively planning to do so.
While adopting a customer-centric approach requires focussing on your customers, it also means investing in your customer support team. This does not necessarily involve employing more team members but rather using strategies and technology to help make their jobs easier. It could be as simple as setting up a self-service resource, such as a Help Centre or FAQ page, to enable customers to find answers on their own.
You can take self-service a step further by adding AI capabilities in the form of chatbots and virtual assistants. These bots make 24/7 support possible—they can provide quick answers to common questions and direct customers to relevant content in the Help Centre. The majority of customers welcome this type of support, with 69% saying they’re willing to interact with a bot on simple issues.
Empowering customers to find solutions independently via online resources is not only beneficial for them. It also frees up agents’ time so they can focus on customers who need help with more complex issues. When banks provide faster service, they can build deeper, more trusting relationships with their customers.
Dealing with queries more effectively also means having easy access to customers’ information. With omnichannel support, agents can see customer data, conversation history, and context in one place. They are then able to shift seamlessly between channels without losing sight of customer details. This increases agents’ productivity and allows for quick and personalised customer support.
Personalised, streamlined support is an expectation of today’s consumers. According to our research, 68% of customers expect personalisation every time they reach out, with younger demographics twice as likely to express a strong preference. Some will even stop engaging with companies that don’t personalise the customer service they offer them.
Data is key to offering hyper-personalised customer experiences. By applying data analytics to customers’ personal and financial data, banks are better able to understand customer needs, provide data-driven recommendations, and increase personalisation. As a result, customers will feel as though their banks are putting their interests first.
When retail banks adopt a customer-centric approach, they are able to achieve personalised, cross-channel customer engagement. This will go a long way toward repairing customer relationships and regaining trust. In a market where the competition is only heating up, it’s crucial to take these steps now.