Why Financial Services CX is still lagging

Blogpost by Nathalie Schooling

We recently conducted a nationwide survey with executives in the B2B, B2C, and B2B2C Financial Services space. Like all our research projects, we wanted to find out from the sector, how their businesses rate from a CX perspective. In undertaking this research, there were a few things that stood out to me: reasons for the very obvious lagging of this sector in customer experience.

It’s not that the sector isn’t ‘awake’ to CX, it is. This is evident not only in the survey responses, but in the CX efforts we are seeing across the industry. The key problem however is that despite efforts, there seems to be a fundamental lack of efficient CX re-design, brought about by a plethora of challenges or obstacles the sector is facing.

You see, it’s not enough in the age of digitisation, to ‘think’ you know what your customer wants or to merely automate and digitise services. Quality CX today requires a business to be intuitive, predict their customer’s problems, and solve them ahead of time. Essentially, CX is evolving into an intelligent design revolution, and those who are able to play in this space will find themselves ahead of the curve.

For example, one such Financial Services company making intelligent CX design choices is Nedbank Private Wealth. Their Digital when you want it. Human when you need it promise, is a testament to their commitment to meeting the customer where they are at, not where they think they’re at. Further evidenced by their immersive digital platforms, is the financial groups’ clear understanding that humans can never be replaced by advancing technology. It’s this sensibility that informs and drives the agile design of their CX processes and keeps them at the top of their game.

But what are the obstacles holding a lot of the sector back from achieving smart CX-redesign? Below we unpack some of our survey findings and look at the obstacles influencing CX progression in this sector: 

COVID-19 recovery, price hikes, and inflation; according to our survey respondents, the financial sector is feeling the pressure post-COVID, to continuously reassure customers currently and offer extensive support. To achieve this, they are needing to accelerate digital strategies, and this ‘pressure’ to digitally transform is resulting in a lot of knee-jerk reactions that lead to underdeveloped CX strategies.

Staying on top of clients’ expectations: 50% of respondents noticed a sizable change in their customers’ expectations, with digital ease and functionality listed as the most significant change in customers’ demands. They reported the need to gain a more thorough understanding of the customer’s end-to-end goals and highlighted their concern around access to real-time client data.

Push back from those at the top who rely on legacy IT systems: for many, CX is still considered to be in its infancy and is not prioritised across all departments or driven from the top down. This was a huge concern for the majority of respondents, who cited the necessity for redesigning business processes to suit current digital interactions, instead of relying on legacy systems.  

Remote working: over and above the concern around faster digitisation, remote management was highlighted as a resounding obstacle for our respondents. It was found to be the biggest COVID-19-related challenge with the most direct impact on CX strategy and company growth.

Measurement: often considered the bugbear of CX by professionals, but arguably the most important CX element, 88% of survey respondents said they have some form of CX measurement metric in place to understand client/customer satisfaction. But only 50% said that it’s helping them to make CX improvements, i.e., they can get a basic understanding of customers’ needs, but getting beyond this point to implement changes is proving to be a challenge.

Follow-through and maintenance of CJM interventions: the majority of our respondents (81%) reported using Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) to review their CX and said they have seen the value and benefit this process has added to their business. However, the challenge they face is in getting company-wide and leadership buy-in to maintain consistent CJM and implementation of CX changes.

What these findings tell us is that there is still a long way to go before the South African Financial Services sector can compete in the CX space. We are seeing too many departmental factors across organisations hold back a company’s CX success. To address this setback, companies should consider companywide Financial Services CX training to embed a deep CX culture across all departments. Only once EVERYONE is on the same page, and when CX is driven from the top, can things like intelligent and effective CX re-design fall into place.