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Defining Your Customer Experience Leads to Loyalty

Let’s face it, defining a superior customer experience is a tricky prospect. Everyone knows what “customer” means. The confusion arises from the word “experience.” What does that word mean in the context of providing financial services? Is it 24-hour support? Does it mean products work as advertised and your account holders are happy – or just not complaining? What exactly constitutes an “experience”?

A few years ago, Harley Manning at Forrester created a definition of “Customer Experience.” He noted an experience must come from the perspective of the customer and have three components: 1) be useful (deliver value), 2) be usable (make it easy to find and engage with the value), and 3) be enjoyable (emotionally engaging).

This is a pretty good definition, however, I would summarize superior customer experience this way: Superior customer experience occurs when a company or an institution consistently exceeds customer expectations, leaving them with a feeling of delight.

Most businesses – including financial institutions – aim to provide superior customer service. That being said, the definition of “superior” is often times defined by the company, rather than its customers. The problem is, the essence of “customer experience” is individual and emotional. The key, then, to providing this experience is to create a business that focuses on delighting each end user.

A huge factor in this endeavor is that consumer expectations of their FIs are now driven by their non-financial brand experiences with services such as Netflix and Facebook, who offer applications on any device, anywhere, at any time. Customers now expect a unified experience between their smartphone, tablet, and online banking services. This experience not only has a consistent user interface and navigation, but it is optimized for each specific device. A tablet-first design is also critical because it provides both access to the services your FI offers and enables customers to swipe, touch, and tap intuitively in an engaging way.

Beyond the “any” access strategy, becoming aware of all of the ways that an account holder comes into contact with your organization is necessary. If you are a typical financial institution, customers can walk into a branch, call you on the phone, see your ads, read about you in the newspaper, go to your website, talk about you via social media, access virtual support, open your statements and other snail mailings, talk with the CEO at Kiwanis, and more. Have you planned for a great experience to be the logical outcome of your account holder’s interactions or are you just hoping it will happen?

Make a specific organization-wide focus to change the interactions you have with your account holders at every touch point, with a focus on creating an experience, built over time. Your strongest asset is your people and they are human, so they will make mistakes. However, if you compile a storehouse of superior experiences with your account holders, one bad event will not deter from their overall emotional response. By investing in delivering a positive emotional response from your account holders – consistently delivered from every touch point – you will come closer to acquiring the one trait that you can no longer buy or generationally expect, loyalty.

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