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Banking On Experience Is The Way Forward

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Banking On Experience Is The Way Forward

Even as the Banking and Financial Services of India (BFSI) are striving towards providing a more seamless experience to their customers, the competition to retain customers has gotten thicker. Gone are the days when people visited banks for their transactions. Today, a majority of BFSI customers prefer a contactless transaction via online banking, mobile banking and ATMs to an extent. I say to an extent considering the rising use of mobile wallets.

So while banks are trying to evolve and adopt newer best practices to offer greater experiences to their customers, here’s a leaf to take out of ING’s Australia business. Australia’s banking industry is dominated by the Big Four comprising ANZ, Westpac, CommBank and NAB. Making inroads into this competitive scenario and growing to become the bank with the highest Net Promoter Score® (NPS®), as per the Engaged Strategy Intelligent Industry Analytics was no easy task. And ING did just that. But how? Read on to find out.

The key to making a difference in any industry is the 3-way formula – what you say via your brand, what you do to offer great customer experience via your value propositions, and who you are which is showcased in your brand culture. ING in Australia did just that – it worked on its value propositions.

Going by the tagline of How Banking Can Be, the brand brought about a revolution in the traditional banking environment. It went Branchless – and this became its value proposition of how banking can be different and seamless. Besides its corporate office in Sydney, ING had no ATM network or branches anywhere in Australia. Instead, it ramped up its customer service team. All queries were solved online and via phone. Now comes the key offering which speaks volumes for how it delivered on its value proposition.

Going branchless reduced facilities costs for ING. The savings were translated into low fees and charges that the bank charged its consumers. In simpler terms, customers of ING were reaping higher returns on savings and paying lower rates on mortgages. ING truly went on to show a new face of banking making its indelible mark in the otherwise traditional banking model.

Over the 30+ years of managing Customer Experience, Branding and Strategic Marketing across 20+ industries, I have found that when a brand has a clear positive customer intention, it automatically enjoys increased customer loyalty, more transactions with each customer and greater word of mouth. In fact, in my benchmarking of over 165 brands I’ve found that word of mouth is 4X more powerful than even television advertising in terms of influencing purchase decisions. In simple economic terms, it’s free marketing for your brand which only comes from customers who are loyal to you – whom the CX world calls Promoters.

Over the last two decades, India’s banking and financial industry has undergone a tremendous change in the way it interacts with its customers. Unlike a generation ago that regularly visited the bank and had a good chat with the bankers or branch manager, today the first demand from a bank is its mobile app, integration with mobile wallets and ease of use for everyday transactions. And mind you, this is not an urban picture that I’m painting, but one that comes with quite some demand even in smaller towns and villages where educated and mobile-savvy youth expect such services.

Similarly, insurances are no longer investments made by specific members of the family in an effort to secure their family’s future after their death. Today, it has become a lucrative market-linked savings effort.

The cases in point above are two different scenarios, with their own unique challenges in approaching customers, especially when customers today are demanding for an experience rather than maintain a transactional relationship. So how does a financial institution strike a balance between the challenging market conditions and still offer great customer experience?

The fintech market is overcrowded with multiple players offering a variety of products for quick gain in both the short term and long term. With customers increasingly vying for great experiences and with less patience, there is a strong market for seamless and interactive experiences. Nearly all major and minor financial institutions today are investing in simplifying transactional relationships with their customers via online tools and apps. Yet, only few are able to make the cut only because their effort in one of the three aspects of providing a strategic experience – are they exactly portraying their brand by what they say, deliver on their value proposition by what they do, and showcase who they are across all hierarchies and departments via an integrated culture focused on delivering great customer experience?

These are the questions financial companies and banks in India need to answer even more truthfully to themselves now.

NPS®, Net Promoter® and Net Promoter Score® are registered trademarks of NICE Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld.

Christopher Roberts

Chris is a Global Brand and CX Expert. He is the Managing Director of Engaged Strategy, which is the world’s first official distributer of Nice Satmetrix. Chris is the developer of the Total Engagement Model, which designs and aligns key elements to maintain brand integrity and customer focus. He is a published academic author and a guest lecturer at the University of Queensland at a Masters Level.