This summer saw the UK’s first Financial Services Customer Experience awards (that’s me on the right with the winning Direct Line team). It was a great day with a few brands taking the lead now. Nationwide, Direct Line and Standard Life picked up more than one gong. With some smaller players demonstrating that you don’t need a big budget to deliver stand out customer service.
We were there to partner the occasion. We judged, we awarded prizes, we also provided the key-note speaker and we had a ball. So I am sure the 2016 finalists line up will be even more hotly contested.
It will also be interesting to see if the winners can continue to turn their famous winning experiences in to even more profitable outcomes for their shareholders (or members in Nationwide’s case), by obtaining more share of their contented customer’s wallet.
The financial service sector has woken up to Customer Experience. With that in mind, here are 5 great customer experiences. We’ve highlighted some which are unique and some which are well used. We hope they provide inspiration either way.
Umpqua Bank’s night time antics
This American retail bank, with a growing network of branches is bucking the trend. They are locally focused so they’ve introduced a range of ways to embed themselves in the community. Which is all part of their positioning as a community bank. One of the ideas is the ‘hand the keys over’ initiative. When evening falls the branch is closed so the branch is a dead space. Space is much sort after by community groups, so members of the local community can hire the open areas of the branch for social activities such as Pilates and book readings – thereby helping the community out by making more of their underutilised assets.
Sun Life Direct making life easier when it’s painful enough
Famous for the over 50’s life insurance (mainly bought for funeral planning) product, 98% of new policy holders state they are happy with the service they get when the plan is taken out.
However, following the death of the policy holder, when a relative claims for a payout is when the brand must really deliver. It used to take a few weeks to get a payout because of the pieces of information and documentation expected.
The irony being that the account holder was often buried before funds which they’d put premiums into the plan for, were released. So the very purpose of the plan was therefore not delivered upon! A basic fail.
Sun Life decided to challenge this with a ‘we take the risk’ approach. It reduced the requirement at claims to one number being needed. With this agreed at Sun Life payouts happen in days now and relatives have less to worry about.
Such is the impact of this idea I’ve since seen it win awards for a different brand, so it clearly has meaning and motivation.
First Direct pay customers for leaving
First Direct buck the trend by not only offering customers an incentive to open a current account, but so confident are they that the experience received once customers join or switch will meet customer’s expectations, they offer the same again for them to leave!
The First Direct Service Guarantee states, “We’ll pay £100 per customer or joint relationship if you close your Account within 12 months of opening it <small print>. We’ll pay the £100 into your account prior to its closure. All accounts with First Direct have to be closed and your 1st Account transferred to another bank/building society.”
I’ve held an account with First Direct (among others) for many years. I can vouch for the thread of steel holding all experience touch points together, across products, across time. This individual acknowledgement is backed up by several reputable studies and awards in customer service and experience including uSwitch and UKCSI.
Becu bank closing for good!
The American retail bank makes a commitment to the communities it serves which is authenticated through every aspect of the business delivery. It’s clearly an authentic focus for them. As their website states; PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST | MAKING OUR COMMUNITY A PLACE TO PUT DOWN ROOTS. As a consultancy which preaches a customer first philosophy (allowing profits to follow) we really connect with Becu. We are a fan and follower of their progress.
Their community commitment is evidenced through several initiatives; people helper rewards, environmental stewardship, financial empowerment partnerships, foundation scholarships and ‘Closed for Good’. These are great experiences for customers, employees and the community to enjoy who see Becu as a bank which cares for its community. It also helps employees understand the importance of community which ensures it is then evidenced through every other touch point.
‘Closed for Good’ is an initiative run on October 20th this year. It entails the bank closing until 1pm and every employee identifying where financial support will be beneficial and sharing their expertise with groups in the community. Is this the business model being delivered or marketing? Either way it ensures customers and prospects experience first hand or through the inevitable word of mouth, that Becu care about those they help. This delivers that rarest of commodities for banks; trust.
AIB’s digital transition lab
There is efficiency in migrating customers to digital interactions with their bank – both for the bank and for the customer. Preemptive marketing which can help customers keep one step ahead of decisions is a good example of where banks can provide customer relationship updates via a digital platform. Click on the pic for a virtual tour of the AIB LAB.
Allied Irish Bank recognised that whilst this is a commercial ambition for the bank, customers benefit from it too. Customer adoption will take longer to move from the ‘comfortable and not broken’ to the new world of digital banking. With that in mind they have created a ‘digital transition’ store in Dundrum Town, Ireland which has no sales agenda but a hand holding experience for customers to trial new platforms and ask questions. According to AIB it’s “designed to deliver an exceptional customer experience through digital self-service.
The award-winning enterprise is making the retail assets move from sales to education to and the support creates a new experience perception of the bank whilst encouraging in a passive and comfortable way customers to trial and adopt new banking platforms. It also presents a future impression of the bank’s image through this experience enhancing activation.
Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden
Lexden has a proven track record in delivering Customer Experience Strategy and Management to clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.
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