Article | 9 min read

5 digital banking customer experience trends to consider for 2024

Banks that consistently optimise the customer experience grow faster. Here are trends and best practices to help guide your CX strategy – and drive customer relationships that last.

By Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Last updated January 22, 2024

Banks that consistently optimise the customer experience grow 3.2x faster than competitors that don’t. And with over 50% of consumers reporting that they’d switch to a competitor after a single unsatisfactory interaction, customer experience has never been more important for any industry.

Here are some trends and best practices to help guide your CX strategy – and drive customer relationships that last.

What is customer experience in banking?

Customer experience (CX) in banking is how customers feel about every interaction with your financial service, at all stages of the customer lifecycle. Whether it’s a call to the contact centre, transferring money in your mobile app, or something as simple as paying a bill, every exchange impacts their perception of your bank – and whether they choose to stay loyal.

Common customer expectations for the digital banking experience

Customers expect an excellent customer experience regardless of industry. They aren’t comparing their experience with one bank to another bank or even with one channel to another channel – they’re comparing it to the last best experience they had.

According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023:

  • 72% of customers want immediate service
  • 70% expect anyone they interact with to have full context
  • 62% think experiences should flow naturally between both physical and digital spaces
  • 62% agree that personalised recommendations are better than general ones

Unfortunately, research also shows that banks fall behind other brands in meeting customers’ expectations. To wow and retain customers, banks will need to keep up with the kind of fast, personalised and seamless digital experiences that consumers’ favourite businesses are already providing.

“We take more of our cues from companies like Netflix and Spotify than we do from the big Swedish banks.”Simon Nilsson, Chief Commercial Officer at Northmill Bank

Take it from the neo-bank Northmill Bank, which is shaking up the industry by being tech-driven and drawing inspiration from unlikely sources: streaming music and video platforms. Northmill Bank aims to bring the same personal relevance and intelligence these companies deliver to a traditional industry like banking.

“We look at ourselves more as a tech company than a bank” says Simon Nilsson, Chief Commercial Officer at Northmill Bank. “We take more of our cues from companies like Netflix and Spotify than we do from the big Swedish banks.”

Top 5 banking customer experience trends for 2024

  • Customers are eager for better online and mobile customer service
  • Personalised experiences are increasing retention
  • AI brings efficiency but the human touch remains essential
  • Conversational experiences will become the new normal
  • Emotional connections drive loyalty

1. Customers are eager for better online and mobile customer service

Banks have typically been slow to digitally transform. Still, a study by Deloitte found that 84% of customers use online banking, and 72% use mobile apps to reach their primary bank. What’s more, customers across all generations, and in all countries, use digital channels more often than branches and ATMs.

But the support banks offer across those channels is falling flat. In a study by The Financial Brand, 64% of customers reported that their mobile banking app didn’t enable them to solve a customer support inquiry fast – if at all.

64% of customers report that their mobile banking app doesn’t enable them to solve a customer support inquiry fast – if at all.The Financial Brand

Luckily, mobile-first banking brands are changing the standard. For example, providing exceptional 365/24/7 customer service is fundamental to Starling Bank’s success.

“We run a 365/24/7 contact centre across various channels, including live chat on desktop and in-app live chat for mobile” says Patrick Vardhan, Head of Customer Service at Starling Bank. “It is vital that our customers can reach us at any time, day or night.”

The Brazilian financial technology company Nubank is similarly challenging traditional financial institutions by focusing on simple, customer-centric support experiences, which has made it one of the fastest-growing companies in Latin America. Nubank offers email, live chat, phone, social media and FAQ support.

“Our focus on human interaction and customer support has helped us maintain Net Promoter Scores above 85, even as we’ve grown from 10,000 users to more than 10 million” says Dennis Wang, Vice President of Operations at Nubank.

"Our focus on human interaction and customer support has helped us maintain Net Promoter Scores above 85." Dennis Wang, Vice President of Operations at Nubank

2. Personalised experiences are increasing retention

The long-standing tradition of little personalised service among major financial institutions is being upended as both major tech players and tech start-ups enter the field. In fact, 72% of customers rate personalisation as “highly important” for financial services. And as 77% of business leaders recognise, deeper personalisation leads to increased customer retention, and 66% believe it lowers acquisition cost.

To deliver hyper-personalised experiences, banks need to translate client data – such as actions, intent and needs – into tailored advice and financial plans. With robust client profiles that unify customer data across systems and software, associates can offer personalised advice and offers at scale.

77% of business leaders believe that deeper personalisation leads to increased customer retention. Zendesk CX Trends Report

For instance, Siemens Financial Services provided a personalised experience by streamlining the agent experience. Partnering with Zendesk, Siemens Financial Services created a custom app that surfaces customer information from disparate sources into a single view, greatly improving agent efficiency and, by extension, the customer experience.

3. AI brings efficiency but the human touch remains essential

AI and automation allow firms to scale productivity without adding headcount, free up advisors from performing routine tasks, deflect common inquiries so agents can focus on impactful human interactions and provide proactive support.

According to the Zendesk CX Trends Report, 59% of business leaders attest to measurable ROI as a result of investments in AI, while 77% of consumers say AI is helpful for simple issues.

However, many banking consumers still prefer interacting with human agents for higher-stakes tasks. 63% of consumers want one-on-one personal conversations with bank representatives, indicating that the human touch remains critical to the banking experience.

4. Conversational experiences will become the new normal

According to Deloitte’s research, 70% of consumers consider a consistent experience across channels to be extremely or very important in choosing their primary bank.

Conversational experiences are just that: being able to move a conversation to a new channel – say, from email to a phone call – without losing the full context of the client’s purchase history and previous interactions. Importantly, customers want help that doesn’t interrupt their current task.

For banks, this means simplifying the client journey with online and mobile channels and embedding support across channels and devices for consistent and connected interactions.

70% of consumers consider a consistent experience across channels to be extremely or very important in choosing their primary bank.Deloitte

5. Emotional connections drive loyalty

Strong client relationships are critical to a bank’s bottom line. Banks must harness customer emotions so they can build personalised relationships that stick.

Forrester found that feeling valued is the biggest loyalty driver in both direct and multichannel banking in the USA. Among direct banking customers who feel valued, 87% say they will remain loyal, and the trend is similar when it comes to purchasing more and advocating for the brand. The numbers only increase for multichannel banking customers.

Banks must make efforts to understand how customers feel and show they’re invested in their emotional state. For example, looking at sentiment data to better understand when and why they’re getting upset and collecting and resolving feedback.

How to improve the customer experience in banking

  • Use self-service to scale
  • Modernise the contact centre
  • Make it easy for customers to get instant help

1. Use self-service to scale

Zendesk benchmark data revealed a 5.4x growth in self-service adoption in financial services customers.

A robust self-service strategy drives efficiency while reducing overhead costs by enabling support teams to deflect redundant, low-value queries. A knowledge base also helps clients navigate the financial world. It can be a great tool during onboarding to ensure customers get the most value out of your products and services from the outset.

For example, Nubank’s self-service model lets customers take care of everything from paying a bill or raising their credit limit to alerting Nubank when they’ll be travelling abroad to avoid service interruptions. And this model has proven successful for more than 80% of its customers.

2. Modernise the contact centre to create more revenue-driving opportunities

73% of bank leaders say that turning loyal customer data into patterns and trends they can leverage is a challenge, with 95% pointing to restrictive operating systems as the reason.

Many banks are managing multiple systems to handle different support channels, while antiquated telephony systems lack any information on the customer who is calling – let alone any mapping of their customer journey. They also have no view into what communication channels a customer prefers.

Banks must invest in agile support software and CRM solutions that offer better customer visibility, make it easy to collaborate across sales and support teams and give agents access to personalised context to offer appropriate services. Doing so promises great returns: increased efficiency, better customer experiences and, of course, increased revenue.

3. Improve speed-to-close of offerings by making it easy for customers to get instant help

Banking customers want convenient and immediate support – so much so, they’re willing to pay for it. 79% of financial customers either agree or strongly agree that they’d spend more for convenience. And 44% are likely to use mobile banking if it offers more real-time problem resolution.

Responding to customer inquiries with speed and agility is a high priority when handling financial transactions. Most banking consumers prefer to speak to a representative before making higher-stakes financial decisions – for example, when taking out a loan. Banks must ensure they offer a quick way to offer help across all their channels so getting support is seamless.

Let’s say a customer has a question while applying for a credit card online. Consumers will want assistance on that page – in other words, they expect businesses to resolve their issues where they are.

Advanced workflows and routing can also help banks prioritise high-tier customers and get customers to the right agents, right away.

Importance of customer experience in banking

The importance of customer experience in banking cannot be overlooked. A bank’s customer experience directly impacts its bottom line.

According to Forrester, a 1-point improvement in CX Index score can lead to an incremental $123 million in revenue for a large multichannel bank. For a direct bank, it can lead to an incremental $92 million in revenue.

Driving growth through great customer experiences starts with investing in the right technology. Zendesk for Financial Services is a complete customer experience solution enabling institutions to deliver secure and personalised services that build strong relationships with their clients. With Zendesk, banks can deliver seamless omnichannel experiences and AI-powered self-service that fits their brand.

See how Zendesk can help your bank.

Zendesk for Financial Services

See how Zendesk helps financial services deliver secure, personalised and convenient support.

Zendesk for Financial Services

See how Zendesk helps financial services deliver secure, personalised and convenient support.

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