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Why making an investment in customer communication is key to success in financial services

When it comes to customer communication, some sectors do ‘warm and fuzzy’ better than others. Certain brands are known for their approachable, friendly voices, whether they’re bantering with competitors on Twitter or even chatting away via their product descriptions. While others have a reputation for being open and transparent with their customers. But if there’s one industry that isn’t renowned for its pally customer communication style, it’s financial services.

Historically, banks have kept their distance; instead of warm and friendly, these serious institutions have (understandably) striven to be solid, dependable and well-respected – in short, they’ve tried to instil trust, rather than be their customers’ mates.

For a long time, this was the right strategy to back. But in recent years, a few bold new contenders have burst onto the scene – and their modern approach to comms has played a pivotal role in transforming customer expectations around the financial services sector, leaving many more well-established brands wondering how to compete.

Challenging times for UK banks

Challenger banks have changed the game for customer service in financial services, introducing a whole heap of cool technologies, a fresh tone of voice, and a new style of customer service to the sector. As a result, they’ve racked up an impressive number of new devotees – and some are even managing to grow their share of primary account holders (i.e. people who pay their salaries into the account), showing that they’re making a serious impact on the market.  

A big part of their appeal lies in their smooth, digital-first offering. Let’s face it, in an age where you can get Japanese-Peruvian fusion food delivered to your door in half an hour with the tap of an app, most of us want a banking service that’s easily accessible via our mobiles. Modern challengers are renowned for their ability to deliver this, because they’re unrestrained by legacy systems and can launch new functionalities at speed. But it goes far beyond getting a notification to your smart watch after doing the weekly shop, and into a whole new style of comms.

Discrediting stuffy service

There’s no two ways about it: challenger banks are transforming customer communication. Monzo, for example, has a community forum in which users can actively come together to shape the future of the bank. Not only does this bridge the gap between Monzo and its customers, it helps users to feel involved, and ultimately makes them more inclined to become ‘advocates of Monzo everywhere’.

At the same time, they’re investing heavily in their customer service offering, with capabilities like 24/7 web chat and plenty of in-app support. They’re also striving to communicate proactively with customers, letting them know when any changes occur and keeping them up to date in real-time with any important news. In short: they’re creating an ongoing conversation with their customers, and building consumer relationships and brand advocates that are all the stronger for it.

So, how can more traditional players compete?

Branching out: how tech can power better customer communications

First, established players should enhance their offering by embracing technology, such as tools that engage customers with proactive communication. Just as pressingly, they should make the most of the assets they already have – such as a strong physical presence, experienced and knowledgeable call centre employees, and the friendly faces of their branch staff. Because while people might love digital capabilities, the fact remains that it’s hard for an app to deliver the level of personal customer communication and understanding that can easily be established through real, human conversation. Apps might be useful, but nothing beats people talking to people.

This is where the real strength of the high street banks lies – so they should strive to ensure that their call centre and in-branch experience is right on the money. Since it’s well known that engaged employees deliver the best customer service, they can achieve this by investing in employee engagement strategies. For example, a key part of being a motivated employee is having access to regular feedback. Essentially, team members should be able to see both where they’re excelling and where they could improve performance further.

Implementing live feedback capabilities can ensure that every success is celebrated – Upland Rant & Rave’s Frontline Engagement solution can even offer a gamified experience with a personalised dashboard and live league tables. With tools like this in place, contact centre and in-branch staff can stay motivated, feel engaged, and deliver superior customer service with every conversation.

Giving the challengers a run for their money

Let’s face it: well-established high street banks won’t be able to compete with the agility of their digital-first competitors. But that’s not to say they can’t compete pound-for-pound with the challengers, by enhancing the assets they already have in place with the right technology. With this simple investment, the financial services industry can bank on better customer communication moving forward – making sure they keep up with the competition, no matter what. 

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