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Customer Satisfaction in Financial Services Needs to Involve the Whole Business

5 minute read

Sue Nimmo, Head of Customer Experience at  Markerstudy Insurance Services Limited (MISL) explains why there is a need to make sure the customer journey is paved with data insights, always aided by employees and always managed with empathy.  

The financial services sector and its subsegments have become increasingly competitive markets. Customers have choice and visibility of a multitude of offerings. The market must contend with regulations, compliance and security and build them into their products. The result of all this is that the focus, is on the customer, which means great customer journeys that deliver good outcomes are now a key competitive differentiator.

The 2024 Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) found that each of the UKCSI sectors has lower customer satisfaction than a year ago, with the Insurance sector experiencing a decline of more than two points. In this environment, building a good customer experience strategy is going to be critical and it isn’t an overnight task. It starts with truly knowing who your customers are and understanding their needs to be able to achieve good outcomes at each stage of their journey.

If organisations focus on three core areas that are essential to build an effective financial services engagement, the customer journey can become a smooth experience for everyone.

  1. Expand data insights to tackle customer queries along the entire journey

Financial services providers are under pressure to ensure their products continue to be fit for purpose and that they address key customer pain points, while providing great customer outcomes at every touch point of their journey. But how do companies know that they are doing this?

A successful customer journey begins with knowing your customer segments. Understanding their needs, including different vulnerabilities, and objectives enables you to build customer personas to use when designing customer journeys. Without the correct insights to build customer personas, the customer journey design could be purely based on assumptions and not meet customer needs.

Data provides new levels of insight

Touch points may need to be designed differently for various customer types and the use of data to measure their effectiveness is critical. MISL for example, is currently issuing customer satisfaction surveys to drive insights to measure exactly where customer journeys meet expectations and where they don’t – and it’s not always where you think! Rich insight is captured from verbatim feedback with often strong customer sentiment helping companies step into a customer’s shoes and experience their journey.

Data helps financial services companies dig deeper than simply high profile issues within the claims processes that may be obvious. For example, there may be trends buried within the policy sales process that impact what happens at point of claim later on.

The use of other data sources can also provide organisations further intel about pain points within the customer journey. Insights can come from complaints, quality assurance, experienced employees, and others in the distribution chain.

  1. Support your employees to bring diversity and empathy to the customer journey

But it’s not just data alone that helps find where customers are struggling.

The diverse culture and acquisitional nature of many financial services organisations provides a wealth of varied experiences within the business. The combination of deep expertise across the company, from employees of different backgrounds offers new perspectives, views, and outcomes to match consumer preferences.

Case in point: merging ideas together

For example, when a new business becomes part of a parent company, existing and new employees can come together to offer a fresh perspective and feedback on touch points in customer journeys. This helps an organisation look at challenges differently, meaning a company can appeal to a wider consumer base and help tackle a broad range of consumer pain points.

The Harvard Business Review argues there's a win-win from harnessing employee insights to inform the customer journey: “By shortening the distance between employees and customers, managers enable employees to cultivate the customer understanding and empathy needed to identify and make CX improvements.”

  1. Ensure your communications tools and front-line employees are up to the customer challenge

When dealing with insurance claims and queries, it’s paramount customer interactions are always handled with respect. To ensure this, employees must be supplied with the best training, tools, and empowerment that equips them to deal with issues whatever channel the customer chooses. When it comes to communication methods, today’s customers demand choices. Insurers must offer a range of contact options – telephone, portals, online live chat, or WhatsApp.

Front-line employees can improve the quality of customer experiences through the use of smart call routing that helps direct customers to the correct person to deal with their query. From here, insights captured from customers calling can be used to iteratively improve their experience. On the other hand, online portals allow customers to report and track a claim. This should be an effortless switch using the customer’s preferred channel.

The questions to ask

But improving communication sometimes needs to go back to basics and it can be as simple as improving the company website. Financial services organisations need to be asking how easily can customers access our services? Are policy documents simple to understand? Is it easy to complain? Are we signposting next steps to the customer clearly, either when speaking to front-line employees or through online journeys and other technologies? Technology experience truly does matter! For 45% of consumers, the poor use of technology has made them avoid an organisation.

Customer outcomes are top of the agenda – think Consumer Duty!

To keep standards high, we have now seen the introduction of The FCA Consumer Duty, a three-year strategy to set and test higher standards within the financial services sector. It has truly put customers top of the priority list by requiring firms to deliver good outcomes always.

People are always willing to shop around, competition is fierce, and it’s made getting the customer journey right more important than ever. It’s time financial services tapped into their data points, their diverse range of employees and their communications approach to deliver truly great customer outcomes.


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