What can financial services companies learn from the retail sector?

The UK has the 4th largest insurance and long-term savings industry in the world, and the largest in Europe.

Though that statistic would suggest that the financial services sector is booming, it isn't clear whether or not companies operating within the sector have all the tools they need to connect with their existing and prospective customers in the way in which modern-day consumers have come to expect…

In recent years, there have been a plethora of digital advancements that have created great opportunities for companies to better connect with their customers, some of which are yet to be embraced by insurance companies or pension providers.

As consumers increasingly expect more from their chosen providers, the challenges of engaging with them become ever prevalent.

A sector that seems to make connecting with their consumers a breeze is the retail sector. We all know how easy it is to pay for an item these days (sometimes a little too easy), how simple it is to find your address and order that new laptop, or how easy it is to subscribe to that monthly craft beer delivery (…just me?).

The way in which many retailers communicate with us keeps us coming back for more, clicking on their links, renewing our subscription, and parting with our hard-earned money.

So… What can financial services companies learn from the retail sector?

Here are some of my thoughts on exactly that…

 

Simplify the data capturing process

Anyone who has ever bought an item online, particularly when buying from retail giants such as Amazon, Curry’s, or Pets at Home know how easy it is to fill your basket with what you need, pay for the items and check out. The whole process takes minutes, possibly even seconds if you’re an experienced online shopper, and page elements like postcode lookups make it easier for consumers to complete the process and ultimately, part with their hard-earned money.

Consumers have come to expect these efficient experiences and If you’re not providing them, they'll shop elsewhere.

It would be unfair to say that all financial services companies need to adopt these efficiencies, because some already have. Aggregators like Mando client, Confused.com, have created a process that is easy for customers to input their data and progress through the process to where they really want to be...

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for every company operating within the financial services sector. There seems to be a plethora of companies that don’t make it easy for consumers to input their data, and don’t simplify the process so that customers can quickly get from A to B.

What if your customers are put off by your current customer experience?

 

Translate the technicalities

I bought my first house just over 12 months ago. For the most part it was a straightforward experience... thanks to a great mortgage advisor who walked us through the process. However, since moving into the property, we have received several communications that have left me in a state of panic, scratching my head, and resorting to google to translate technical jargon from the confusing world of mortgages.

One of those letters was a communication about how much we had left to pay on the mortgage, and how much we would have to pay in order to pay it all off now... I wish!

The way in which the communication was worded, and the terminology they used left me thinking that I had to pay extra, that there was something outstanding, or that I’d missed a payment.

A quick call to my mortgage advisor resolved the panic. But it left me thinking "why not simplify the communication", drop the jargon, or at least make it easier for customers to resolve these queries, without picking up the phone…

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This experience, highlighted just how simple online customer experiences within the retail sector really are…

Don’t know what a CVV is at the checkout stage? No problem – they provide you with a definition of what it is, and even better, a picture of where it’s located on your card.

Don't understand what a certain charge is? No problem - they provide a definition, have FAQs pages that clearly outline what the charge is, or have a live-chat functionality where you can quickly resolve your query. 

If your customers don’t know what an addendum, a lapse, a material fact or consequential loss is – simplify it for them, show them definitions, implement an FAQ chatbot (like the one to the left) that can translate the jargon for your customers and create happier, less confused customers that increases customer self-serve, and reduces demand for your call centres. 

 

 

Personalise your communications

Have you ever browsed a website and looked at a piece of clothing, a watch, a car, or a holiday, got distracted and moved on to another page? If you have, it’s likely you’ll have received an email, or been shown advert that’s promoting those items you’ve just been looking at, maybe even with a message asking you if you got distracted?

The retail giants are brilliant at delivering these communications to consumers, and they work to convert customers, keeping them engaged and increasing sales.

Today’s consumers want a seamless experience and the most relevant offers to them, and they want it provided to them in the shortest amount of time possible. Providing your customers with personalised experiences, just like the ones they receive from retailers, can help to improve acquisition conversion rates and renewal rates, simplify the renewals process, and will better engage with your customers before their renewal is due.

According to Epsilon, “80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences”.

Not offering these could not only be damaging your customer experience, but it could also be sending your customers towards your competitors who do.

Digital experience platforms like the Episerver DXC and the Sitecore DXP offer personalisation functionality, making it easier for marketing teams to produce campaigns that resonate with consumers, and keep them coming back for more.

If you’re operating on a CMS that doesn’t offer this functionality, maybe it’s time to migrate to a platform that does… Talk to us about how we can help you with this.

 

Implement omnichannel customer experiences

As customers of all ages become increasingly digital savvy, it’s important to provide them with seamless customer experiences across any channel they use to communicate with you, creating seamless transitions between physical visits in branches, through to phone calls and from visiting a website, to using your mobile app.

Omnichannel offers customers an integrated and seamless experience across all channels, and retail giants like Disney have presented their customers with mobile-responsive websites that are designed to make consumers feel a connection to them.

After a customer has just booked a visit to the Disney World resort, they are encouraged to plan their visit through the My Disney Experience tool. Once in the park, that customer can use Disney’s mobile app to locate attractions they had previously saved in the experience tool and see estimated wait times for their favourite attractions.

In addition to that, Disney’s recently introduced Magic Band program enables visitors to use the wristband to unlock their hotel room, check-in to FastPass lanes and even make purchases with it. Of course, this is all linked to the aforementioned Disney Experience tool - creating one flawless customer experience that covers multiple channels. 

“So, how could similar experiences be applied to the financial services sector?”

Though implementing omnichannel experiences may sound complicated and in Disney’s Magic Band case, expensive - an insurance company or a pensions provider could create comparable experiences to simplify the lives of their customers…

For example, an insurance company could implement a chatbot, or create an Alexa Skill to better engage with their customers. The Alexa skill could create a quote and present that to the customer via their Alexa device, but also deliver the quote to their Alexa mobile app, email them with further details regarding the quote, and update their MyAccount to reflect their latest quotations.

Experiences like these create seamless, memorable experiences for customers. Offering these can set you aside from your competitors.

 

If you would like to take some lessons learned from the retail sector and implement them into your financial services company we can help. We have a wealth of experience in working with companies operating in regulated industries, including utilities and financial services companies, creating digital experiences that create efficiencies for your customers and internal teams. 

Our most recent experience within the financial services sector is with USS, where we have created a rich, personalised, coherent experience for their 460,000 members, setting them up for a future of continued digital innovations and enhancements that will further improve customer experiences and ensure their platform has the ability to comfortably deal with dramatic spikes in customer demand. 

To find out how we can help you to achieve a similar goal, contact us today.