Skip to main content

We all have our money worries. Whether we’re making ends meet, or trying to grow our nest egg, we all use financial service providers to help us manage our money, and we lean on them to help us make some of the biggest financial decisions of our lives.

So it’s no surprise that we expect our money managers to be faultless, rigorous and absolutely trustworthy with every cent that passes through our accounts.

But we want much more than that.

We want simple, seamless, faultless services. We want instantaneous transactions no matter what the device, at any time of day. Or we'll look for better alternatives.

What we expect from our financial service providers today is pushing them to the forefront of customer experience design and delivery, and as designers and customer experience professionals there's a lot we can learn from the businesses that are forced to push the boundaries.

Good customer experiences help make money

It's already plainly evident that businesses providing great customer experiences outperform the rest in terms of growth. Combining the past 7 years of Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, Watermark Consulting report that customer experience leaders outperformed customer experience laggards by over 80%.

More specifically, Forrester’s 2014 Customer Experience Index found that customer experience trumps price-value perception as a loyalty driver for banks - people pay more, and stick around longer if they get better service.

Our financial service providers understand in crystal clear dollar signs the lifetime value of a customer. In their fiercely competitive industry the winners understand that the little details are not just details; they are the experience, they are the brand that customers have a human relationship with - a relationship that can last for generations.

The basics must be flawless; it’s the tiny details that make the real difference.

As technology continues to evolve so do our expectations and behaviours, because of this financial service providers are rapidly expanding their capabilities to deliver more seamless customer experiences, often belying the enormous complexities behind the scenes. They’re seeking out new ways to generate value, improving their customer’s lives through leaner, faster, more integrated services, added customer control, and a more personalized service for when things become complicated (because money always eventually becomes complicated).

So, how are the leaders gaining such an advantage? We’ve pulled together 4 key ways financial services providers are improving their customer experience, which can also be applied to almost any other business:

Get the latest from the brightest minds in CX, UX, and design thinking.

Get the latest from the brightest minds in CX, UX, and design thinking.

  • No spam, just quality content. Your inbox is safe with us. For more details, review our Privacy Policy. We're protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

1. Forget about delight, get the basics right first

Delight, the holy grail of designers; that experience so amazing that customers walk away blissfully and cannot help but tell their friends about it.

But delight is not a starting point, and seeking to delight when you haven’t fixed the basics can have the opposite effect. If your brand promises delight but delivers frustration, how will customers feel?

Once again, the numbers bear this out - customers will tell an average of 11 people about good customer service experiences, and an average of 15 people about poor customer service experiences.

Tangerine (previously ING) strives to create simple, valuable experiences for every single interaction they have with their customers with a range of financially competitive products backed with consistently exceptional customer service. 

while you can gain customers fast, without consistent quality of experience, you can lose them even faster.

Peter Aceto, President & CEO, Tangerine.

Key takeaway: Fix the basics first – the majority tasks, the top complaints, and the first things your customers experience. Keep the customers you have, make their lives easier - There’s delight in stuff that just works, too.

2. Simplify the customer’s life

The leading financial service providers continuously seek out ways to simplify their processes.

They focus their customer experience improvement efforts on decreasing friction points and increasing motivation at every interaction: reducing steps, saving time, communicating more clearly, simplifying user access across accounts and across services, and unifying communications to speak as a single trusted partner.

All of these steps are about making daily life simpler and more efficient for the time conscious consumer.

Simple is a non-traditional banking service created from frustration with the current state of the banking industry. Their approach to simplifying the experience for their customer's daily lives is evident in their Safe-To-Spend® budgeting tool, which proactively deducts upcoming expenses to provide an accurate view of how much money customers will actually have to spend.

Key takeaway: By introducing simplicity and convenience into the customer experience at every step, you can increase customer satisfaction and differentiate themselves.

3. Deliver a consistently good experience across touch-points

Have you ever transferred funds across accounts using your bank’s app while you are actually standing at an ATM?

Or have you experienced that frustration that you can't make that extra payment to your pension through your banking app when you can do it easily on the website?

Financial service providers are leading the way in delivering seamless omni-channel experiences where branches, kiosks and online platforms are expected to perform as one, sometimes simultaneously.

Technology is enabling this change, and customer expectations continue to rise. as customers see the benefit with transactions that are real-time and flawless.

mBank recently decided to completely reconstruct their physical channel using innovative digital technology in-line with their award-winning online platforms. By 2018 their physical presence will consist of 2 variations. Ultra-modern Light Branches, featuring Kinect technology touch screens, will provide quick and efficient basic services. While Advisory Centres will play an important role in the exploration of more complex transactions

Key takeaway: Increase your value to customers by providing seamless customer service across physical and digital touch-points. This requires alignment of your offerings, support services, and customer satisfaction measurements behind the scenes.

4. Put the customer at the heart of the organization

Financial service providers have been some of the earliest adopters of a customer-centred approach and the application of lean design methods to streamline their operations to support a customer-centric vision.

They do this because there’s money to be made.

In tighter economic times, potential for financial and product differentiation is limited and by consequence the details of the service delivery gains more significance. We're seeing this across industries - cars, food, electronics, the competing products are essentially all the same, and so customers are making purchasing decisions based on tiny differences.

Understanding how to deliver those tiny differences are informed by putting customers at the heart, and designing the organization and everything it does around them.

At the core, a customer-centric design process has two critical steps:

  1. Seek out unmet needs - Find the human stories behind your data by combining customer analytics with a process of deep customer understanding through qualitative research.
  2. Design and road-test new services with customers - Meet unmet needs through low-cost design and rapid prototyping methods that involve customers in the design process.

Seeking unmet needs

Mint (acquired by Intuit in 2009) is an online budget tracking and money management tool designed for busy people with better things to do than wade through their receipts and statements. Mint took an unmet customer need for a simple way to keep track of their spending, and through a process of superior design created an entirely new service to help them make smarter decisions.

Designing and road-testing new services

BBVA Compass recently teamed up with financial-technology start-up Dwolla to provide real-time banking and money transfer services. They’re also testing "drive-thru banking" a new concept that allows customers to interact with remote tellers via screens that double as full-service ATMs.

Key takeaway: Simple and repeatable customer-centric design approaches help create experiences that engage customers, increase loyalty and build trust that ultimately drive business results.

The future is bright for customers

By focusing on becoming a trusted financial partner and delivering a best-in-class customer experience, banks are leading the way in delivering customer satisfaction. In turn, they’re building brand loyalty and of course a clear, measurable return on their investment.

By Warren Anthony

Warren is a design leader working to improve our experiences with products, services and systems by putting people first. He leads the Experience Design practice at EY Vancouver, working with clients including the City of Vancouver, the Government of Canada and Microsoft. He's an active contributor as part of EY's Global Future Consumer and Future Cities teams. In previous lives he led strategy, UX and digital design teams at DDB London and FCV Vancouver scooping major awards for work with Hasbro, Volkswagen and Philips.