Integrative Customer Service in Financial Services

December 1, 2011 § 7 Comments

I’ve recently read a string of posts, books, and articles that tie very well into each other regarding social media, customer service, and financial services.  I love it when this happens because it’s my hope that in tying these things together, I can articulate the connections I see and offer something new (rather than simply regurgitate the wisdom of others).  Let’s start with customer service.

Brian Solis recently wrote a fantastic post titled “How to Make Customer Service Matter Again” where he asserts the opinion that lately “customer service is a contradiction of words and intentions”.  He uses a horseshoe to illustrate the “lack of confluence” between social media and customer service.

…with social networks becoming the preferred channel of communication among connected consumers, businesses are losing ground and faith. The reality is that customers will share their experiences whether positive or negative and they will influence the decisions of others. The question is, how are you changing your service model to shape and steer experiences that deliver value to customers and also back to your business?

Improving customer service and delivering an integrated experience will not only help customers feel valued, but also establish a competitive advantage. In the end, businesses that invest in customer retention and acquisition to deliver positive experiences, regardless of platform, will strengthen relationships and loyalty and additionally contribute to organic advocacy.

In financial services, what does it mean to deliver an “integrated experience”? How can service models and financial products be improved to better support such an experience?  Brett King’s book, “Bank 2.0: How Customer Behavior and Technology Will Change the Future of Financial Services“, presents an ideal case for this in the call center of a bank, calling out the disparity in systems used to perform seemingly simple tasks like obtaining an account balance.  In some banks, the customer service representative (CSR) must use multiple systems to attain basic account information.  King asks, “Why isn’t anyone building a single view of the customer dashboard for call centers?”.

Recently, King launched Movenbank – a bank offering a more personalized customer experience.  Having signed up for the Alpha launch, I had the pleasure of experiencing the sign up process.  It starts by connecting your (gasp!) Facebook account to the bank during the login process.  Movenbank explains some of the benefits in doing so in a blog post titled “To Facebook Or Not To Facebook“, and Jim Marous cites in a recent post marketing research that supports the simplification of the login and account creation process.  He also makes the very important point that the benefits of a social login must outweigh the perceived privacy concerns.  While I currently use social logins for many sites, I honestly still felt slightly unnerved doing so with a bank.  It will certainly be interesting to see if Movenbank will continue to use Facebook as a form of authentication and what the public response will be.  The next phase of the sign up process was a series of thoughtful interview questions regarding my financial habits and attitudes culminating in a “Financial Personality”.  Once I completed it, I was quite honestly blown away by the fact that my current bank never asked me these questions!  It seems so simple, yet so revolutionary at the same time.

Back to the call center and CSRs.  Imagine a dashboard that not only integrates all of the disparate systems required to satisfy a customer request but also includes this personality profile and alerts the CSR if the customer has recently tweeted or posted in any other public social media forum about the company or any of its products and services. Maybe even a life changing event has occurred recently that the customer has shared.  Am I comfortable with an informed CSR knowing my financial personality and knowing some basic personal information about me obtained through Facebook?  Am I comfortable with a CSR accessing my public Twitter stream? Absolutely! Yes, please display my picture when I am speaking with a CSR because I’d like to be more than just another anonymous voice on the other end of the line. Yes, I’d also like you to know that I’m not saving as much as I’d like to, that I use other financial products (just not with you), and I’d rather not make a trip to the branch.  Oh, and I abhor checks and am an avid fan of mobile payments.  Maybe then you could tell me about a product or service that better fits my lifestyle and enables me to meet my financial goals.  For me, this knowledge establishes the beginning of a business relationship that already exceeds that which I have with my current bank of four years, and as someone who keeps an “ear to the ground” in financial services, I see this opening the door to multiple new products and services banks could offer while presenting many more sales opportunities of existing products.  An integrated, personalized call center dashboard is just the beginning.

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