Customer Service Trends and Best Practices for Banking, Financial Services, and Fintech

The financial industry is actively undergoing a major digital transformation. The effect has spilled over into customer experience as well, with BFSI and fintech firms offering sophisticated digital customer service options to tailor support to every customer persona, from gen-X to millennials. In this discussion, Mario Volante, Justin Cruz, and Suhas Gujarathi discuss best practices for both new-age and legacy financial service providers to differentiate their services through fast, accessible, and digitally-native customer experiences.

Mario Volante

Customer Success Manager, Freshworks

Justin Cruz

Director of Customer Success, Medallia

Suhas Gujarathi

Director, Xoxoday

What's in this discussion

  • 5 CX must-haves BFSI and fintech customers expect from businesses
  • Why the digital customer experience is critical in the BFSI/fintech space
  • How traditional BFSI players need to adapt to keep up with non-traditional fintech
  • The role of omnichannel customer service in the financial sector

 

 

Part 1: What influences customer loyalty in the BFSI and fintech space?

Host: Customer behavior has changed over the last 12 months. Customers prefer businesses that give them tailor-made experiences – they’re willing to leave one business and go to another if they know that they’re going to get more personalized experiences and amazing support.

Host: Consumers now want to access their financial service providers online at all times, throughout their entire journey. We noticed certain trends even pre-pandemic: Customers who are attracted to low-cost offerings seek ease of use, faster service, and personalized products.

Host: Justin and Mario, what have you seen as new behaviors, trends, and expectations that customers have today? Customer expectations are at an all-time high, but CSAT scores are not high enough. What, in your opinion, is the cause?

Justin Cruz: When customers work with new brands and companies, they seek data security, but service is also a major differentiator – every time they interact with the brand, they want to be shown empathy. Proactiveness is also a differentiator. 

I’d summarize it as follows: Customers want personalized experiences, assurance of data security, and easy-to-access services/support – this is primarily because the digital world has a lot of new adopters. In the financial space, many new adopters are used to doing things in person – if brands expect them to shift to digital, they need to build trust and make digital channels exceedingly simple to use.
Mario Volante: I’ve seen a lot of large companies either forgive or reduce some fees – whether it’s overdraft fees, or various other fees, because a lot has changed over the last 12 months, and people are in situations they haven’t been in before. Finding a unique way to show empathy is crucial to retaining customers. Reducing or forgiving a fee while also maintaining your operational costs can be tricky, but we’ve seen a lot of creative ways that companies are doing that – and customers are responding positively to these efforts.

Part 2: The role of digital customer experiences in BFSI and fintech

Host: Now, let’s talk about the role of digital customer experiences in financial services. Here, trust and transparency are very crucial to long-term growth. Mario, what are your thoughts?

Mario Volante: Democratization of technology and ease of access is important. We see this a lot in investing and cryptocurrency but also in regular trades and transactions. Laypersons are noticing what’s going on with the financial world and want to get involved, whether it’s conventional financial vehicles or new offerings that fintech companies provide. When a company tries to make its services inclusive, it benefits its brand tremendously – this goodwill is multiplied by social media as well.

Host: To add to this question, how successful do you think BFSI industries have been in embracing digital adoption? Traditionally, they’ve favored conventional methods of banking. 

Justin Cruz: They’re definitely trying to embrace it by leveraging the data they’re collecting. BFSI industries are digging into customer behavior by analyzing customer satisfaction metrics (using data points on fees or other components of their services) and making relationships a little less frictional. This can be done not only at an organizational level but also at a frontline sales level. 

Suhas Gujarathi: I’d like to add that customers expect you to make use of predictive analytics to enhance their journeys. For instance, you could send customers alerts based on an action they may have just completed, or understand their usage patterns and suggest next steps before they need to ask you for help.

Part 3: How non-traditional financial services players are disrupting CX

Host: Customers are looking for solutions that can give them tailor-made experiences. Fintech and non-traditional players have used this knowledge to disrupt the CX landscape. How are they attracting the customers of traditional financial services and banks?

Suhas Gujarathi: Most non-traditional players have a technology background, so they have the advantage, or rather, do not have the disadvantage of legacy. They’re able to leverage technology to deliver ease of use, ease of operations, ease of doing business.
Justin Cruz: When you think of non-traditional players, you’re thinking of the millennial demographic, which is a large portion of these new customers. But there’s definitely another demographic, which consists of more traditional customers who are actively making the switch to fintech. It’s very important that you understand the needs of those traditional customers: Do they want ease of access, a personal rapport with the business, or education on transitioning to digital interfaces? Understanding this demographic and winning them over is key for traditional financial service providers, so as to not lose them to their fintech counterparts.

Part 4: Is cloud technology critical to CX success in BFSI and fintech?

Host: That brings me to my next question. We’ve spoken about non-traditional players in the financial world who are redefining CX. Does that mean the traditional banking or financial services firms need to start investing in cloud technology? Could not having cloud-based or digital technology be a definitive disadvantage?
Mario Volante: Having worked in banking in the past, and having gone through a transition from an older legacy support system to one that was based on the cloud, I saw a lot of benefits to a cloud solution. It was not a smooth transition, but it eventually made our support reps’ jobs easier. Naturally, happier agents translate to happier customers, so I believe moving to cloud-based customer service solutions can really make an impact on your CX. In our case, it took us about a year to start seeing the benefits of migrating, but those benefits were certainly immense, and not migrating to the cloud would have negatively impacted our business.

Part 5: Better employee experiences translate into better customer experiences

Host: Do elaborate on how happy agents translate to happy customers. When you’re trying to adopt new technology as a business, how does employee experience impact your customer? 

Justin Cruz: Some best practices for customer care, like leveraging data, delivering proper education, and using the right forms of communications, can be used to gauge employee performance. So when you see great customer experience moments being delivered by your team, how are you quickly recognizing that employee and reinforcing it with your teams? That way, not only does that individual feel good about it, but they also want to repeat it. Also, the rest of the team sees examples of what great CX looks like.

This culture of recognition and rewards is a morale-booster as well, encouraging the entire customer service department to get recognized by delighting their customers. Thus, great employee experience can be applied to create a great customer experience, and vice-versa. The takeaway is, don’t only look for the things that are not working – look for the things that are working and spotlight those through recognition programs so that the team is aware of them.
Mario Volante: To add to Justin’s points on delighting your employees, customer service personnel often feel like they're doing a lot of mundane, uninteresting tasks. Businesses must look to automate these mundane tasks or incorporate machine learning into business workflows to make agents feel like they’re doing truly valuable work every day.

Part 6: Tips to improve customer service and experiences for BFSI and fintech customers

Host: Can we hear your professional insights and advice on what companies in the financial space should prioritize to improve their CX?

Justin Cruz: It’s great to have automation, AI, and chatbots in action, so that low-effort tasks are quickly resolved. But don’t get rid of human contact. For example, phone calls as a channel can be expensive. But if you see that your customers prefer them, you can focus on maximizing the use of calls and making them as effective and frictionless as possible. The value of human interaction – building a rapport and providing customer education on channels they’re comfortable with – is crucial to long-term success, especially in an industry like banking.

Digital channels can be more cost-effective. However, getting customers to feel confident about the security and privacy aspects of digital channels like chat and self-service portals is important as well. Not everyone is excited to text you about their account numbers or bank balances. In certain cases, the phone option does tend to ease that concern.

Mario Volante: I can segue into this from the humanization point. In my experience, one of the best ways to provide personalization is to offer customers a chance to connect with you via any channel they prefer. So whether that’s email, chat, phone, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Facebook, or Twitter – being able to support customers on all those spaces is something that we’ve seen success with. An omnichannel support offering, like Freshdesk, would provide agents with access to those channels at once without having to access them separately, via disparate applications/devices. The omnichannel offering would also eliminate siloed information, allowing agents to collate customer touchpoints from across multiple channels into a single customer journey.

That way, if a customer originally sent you a tweet, and decides to call you on the phone a week later, the agent will know exactly what the tweet was about, and can respond to the customer’s call with, “Hey, you tweeted about this the other day, can I help you with it?” This saves the customer effort in explaining their situation, and results in minimal frustration and wait times as well. Investing in omnichannel and well-connected customer service should be your first priority if you want to improve your customer experience.

Part 7: Live Q&A

1) What’s the right way to educate your customers without causing an information overload?

Justin Cruz: There’s a lot to be said about not being educational unless the customer wants that education. Listening and asking the right questions allows that approach to be effective. If it’s just a one-way conversation where you only stuff information down the customers’ throats, it can definitely detract from customer experiences. You should listen for where there’s an opportunity to provide best practices or tips, and also gather as much knowledge about the customer as you can. It’s better to know more about the customer’s use-cases initially than to go too long without hearing from them and have that snowball into bigger issues where people just leave because they don’t feel like they’re getting the resources they need. 

But you can’t proactively provide education unless someone asks for it. You have to keep it customer-centric, and customer-centric means listening, not only talking.

 

2) I manage a company with less than 10 support agents. Do you think investing in digital services like AI or cloud will deliver RoI?

Justin Cruz: As a small business, be careful to not simply throw more technology at a problem. I’ve worked with a lot of clients over the years that keep adding more of these cloud-based solutions to grow their CX operations. Soon, they’re working with six different vendors across six different initiatives, and since they’re a small team, there aren’t enough project managers to assist them. So think about how you do that in a consolidated and concise way that has your employees feeling excited and motivated about the tools they’re going to be working on. 

 

3) In BFSI and fintech, there are often many intermediaries involved in a single transaction or customer request. How do companies work together, given that they might be operating on different CMS and CRM platforms, to deliver the most frictionless experience to customers?

Mario Volante: Integrations (between systems) are incredibly important. A lot of cloud-based SaaS tools have an integration marketplace, I would recommend leveraging the marketplace to tie disparate systems together. If there’s nothing readily available, you can always hire someone to build a custom integration with APIs. The cost scares people, but when you think about how much time and money it’s going to save you in the long term, you can comfortably justify it.