Banking on change: The future of customer service in financial services

  • Financial Services
  • Matthew Talbot
  • Solutions
  • 2022
June 08, 2022

Customer service in financial services: woman sitting at table working on laptop with credit card in hand

Fintech companies around the world are transforming how financial services are delivered. Nowhere is that more apparent than in customer service, especially around complaints, disputes, and fraud operations, with new entrants redefining what good looks like. 

Australian firms such as Afterpay, the buy-now, pay-later giant acquired by Square, have succeeded by offering new products and experiences in line with consumer preferences for simple, intuitive, streamlined services. A wave of neobanks, digital investment platforms, and next-generation insurance firms are just the tip of the iceberg in a shake-up that spans all areas of finance.   

These new market entrants present a clear customer service challenge for incumbents, which face additional complexities from legacy systems and inefficient manual processes. The decline of bank branches and physical locations that previously helped shore up customer loyalty add to the conundrum. How can financial services providers maintain a connection with customers, many of whom still want to deal with people, not screens?

Room for improvement

The truth is most consumers rarely see financial services as leaders in customer service. A ServiceNow-sponsored study revealed 13% of Australians believe financial services offer the worst customer experience, coming in behind telecommunications and government. 

Many (35%) attribute poor service to overwhelmed customer service departments. Others (33%) recognize employees’ lack of decision-making power as a key issue. Customers (29%) also identify siloed teams and systems as a challenge that leads to poor service. 

Banks often spend millions of dollars a year processing complaints that typically take hours to complete. That’s a lot of time and money spent on resolving issues, particularly if customers still aren’t satisfied with the overall experience. There’s a clear opportunity to do better.

The most important factor for good customer service, according to 51% of consumers who responded to the ServiceNow survey, is getting issues fixed promptly.

The path to efficiency

Many of the common complaints about finance providers center on slow speeds and inefficiency. Customers find the issue management process frustrating, cumbersome, and time-consuming. They want a fast, efficient process where they feel valued and heard—every time. 

Financial providers must up their game. They need to meet global rising customer expectations for frictionless experiences across every department and touch point. A number of Aussie and Kiwi financial institutions are already investing heavily in streamlining processes to improve customer service. 

For example, a New Zealand financial services provider used ServiceNow to simplify key operational processes in areas such as loan operations and the way customer interactions moved through the organization. This drastically cut response times—from four days to one, in some cases. Customer satisfaction increased as a result.

The way forward

The most important factor for good customer service, according to 51% of consumers who responded to the ServiceNow survey, is getting issues fixed promptly. Another important factor, highlighted as the top concern by 47% of customers, is being able to get through to someone quickly when a problem arises. 

At the same time, financial services providers must be mindful that demographic differences require tailored approaches. Younger generations are happy with self-service via digital channels while older generations want to speak to someone—ideally in their country. 

Best practice requires a mix of channels that cater to the different needs of different groups of consumers. It’s also important to use technology to categorize and filter issues to help ensure customers are directed to the most appropriate place or individual to resolve their problem fast.

With the competition for clients now fiercer than ever, top-notch customer service is set to be worth its weight in gold. 

Download our ebook to discover five steps to digitally transform the client experience. 

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