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Financial services and the customer service innovation gap

Apr 18, 2023 | Admin, Financial Services, Latest News

In the current climate, financial services organizations have little room for error when it comes to maintaining their customer base. Anxious spenders and uncertain economic conditions often make for hasty decisions, especially when customers feel they can’t truly know or reach the institutions they trust to manage their assets. Even in good economic conditions, however, financial services has long had a gap in one crucial area for maintaining these customers: customer service. 

Whether it’s the wrong tech, the wrong processes, or the wrong expertise, many customers routinely complain about their financial institutions lagging behind in customer service. Only 33 percent of customers trust traditional banks the most, and an even smaller amount (12 percent) trust wealth management firms. 

You can get ahead and stand out from the crowd though, becoming the financial services provider known for truly responsive and trustworthy service. Here are four ways to bridge that gap and prove to your customers and prospects that you’re the one for them:


Shorten the path to reach you and avoid agitated customer calls

In the rush to adopt AI, chatbots, and other automated forms of customer service, many organizations have found themselves “up to date” on tech but not any better off in customer service and satisfaction. Poor implementations of automated customer service often leads to lackluster customer service and more frustrated customers who can’t easily find the answers they’re looking for, repeat themselves for a computer and a real agent, or can’t get a hold of a live person to assist them at all. There’s a reason why Google searches for “How to avoid long bank call wait times” and “How to contact a real agent at my bank” exist in abundance. Customers won’t be won over by haphazard customer service “improvements” and will strategize for the fastest way to avoid wait times and get a real person. 

Technology for customer service in financial services must be unified, cloud-based, and thoughtfully implemented to work within your existing processes—thereby avoiding the redundancy and wait times customers will disavow an institution for in mere seconds. This doesn’t mean you should avoid AI, chatbots, and other cutting-edge technologies, but it means you must maintain humanity throughout all these experiences. Provide truly helpful answers with conversational AI, automatically connect your live agents with information already given to a bot, and don’t bury the contact line for real live people amongst it all. 


Build up more talent to avoid a detrimental expertise gap

Next, financial services organizations must train and recruit better talent to deliver exceptional customer service. If there are not enough people trained not only in the regulatory demands of the industry but also in the core competencies of finance, your customer service staff will inherently lack the comforting expertise and confidence necessary to address customer questions and concerns. Customer service representatives in financial services are not just warm bodies to pick up the phones—they must be empowered to provide true help.

This may mean doubling down on recruitment efforts and refining your search for specific skill sets relevant to your organization, whether that be accounting, wealth management, etc. But it should also mean providing more meaningful training to your existing employees as well. Employees should be receiving guidance and support not only to keep your organization compliant but to improve their industry-specific knowledge and thereby improve the effectiveness of your customer service. 


Leverage more unified and automated collaboration wherever possible

We are all for keeping the human at the center of business operations, and we believe that approach is what distinguishes the standout companies from the herd. But even human-centered standouts leverage automation to keep the lights on and deliver exceptional service. Unified, cloud-based communications must be used for your internal team and integrated to connect with any external ecosystems as well, whether that’s directly with end consumers or partner vendors. 

Consider how well your organization is using video conferencing, AI or ML, cloud platforms, etc. On top of that, consider how efficient the intersection between BI, ERP, and CRM is in your organization. These are common areas that could use more streamlining and trimming to cut out the technical debt and only use what works best for your needs. 


Don’t underestimate the importance of trust and transparency 

Only 30 percent of customers trust the businesses they work with, but 87 percent of company executives believe their customers trust them. That’s a rather large trust gap, and trust is especially important for financial institutions tasked with assisting consumers with some of their biggest decisions and money management choices. To close this gap, don’t let your organization neglect efforts to increase transparency and prove your trustworthiness. 

This may mean being easy to connect with, as we first discussed in this article, but also protecting consumer data, keeping promises and being consistent in your services, and understanding customer circumstances closely enough so that your product offerings match their needs. Investing in a platform that’s equipped to be a single source of truth and manage complex regulatory/privacy demands is a must for financial institutions to be truly trustworthy. Salesforce is more than just a CRM; in fact, the Salesforce Financial Services Cloud is built with workflows and functionality that are made to address these unique industry concerns and keep you honest, responsive, and innovative. 

Financial services organizations are fully equipped to impress, woo, and retain their customers—if only they invest in the right customer service plays to do so. By shortening the path to reach you, building up more expertise, leveraging automation whenever appropriate, and always prioritizing transparency, the gap between stellar customer service and financial services institutions can evaporate.