Trust has always been an essential instrument in business and in everyday life. Many business owners have transformed their enterprises with the power of trust. Yet recently, the trust in the financial services industry has declined drastically due to scandals and many cases of fraud.
How can they rebuild it?
Understanding the Customer Journey
Many brands make the mistake of seeing the customer journey as a fraction of an experience or a single transaction. Yet the customer journey is the entire experience that consumers have while doing business with a brand or an organization. It also details how individuals become aware of and interact with a brand.
The importance of understanding the customer journey in the financial services industry cannot be overemphasized because institutions have been facing significant trust issues for the past decade. According to the 2018/19 Enforcement Annual Report published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), there is still a lot of ground to cover in that regard.
By understanding how their audience thinks and behaves, financial institutions can improve their services and stand out amongst the intense competition.
The customer journey in the financial services industry begins long before a person walks through the doors of a firm. Nowadays, the customer journey starts on the internet, where individuals interact with a company's website or social media.
It is also worth noting that the customer journey in the financial services industry goes beyond opening accounts or selling products to consumers. Organizations must also pay attention to after-sales experiences, including mobile banking integration to help customers make transactions on the go and to 24/7 support service to resolve any problems. To ensure that the insight obtained from understanding the customer journey is utilized right, companies should create a roadmap featuring various processes and tools to tackle any factor that may generate distrust.
Delivering Personalised Customer Experiences
Personalization is an important tool when it comes to delivering quality services. With the recent technological advancements, financial institutions can invest in tools that can help them provide customers with personalized services.
To effectively personalize products and services, financial services providers should take advantage of the available user data to ascertain their audience’s needs. Companies can obtain such data by encouraging existing clients to publish reviews about their experiences. To really get deep into data, brands can also consider investing in an AI-powered CRM that will collect, organize, store, and analyze data to provide unique insights that enable hyper-personalization that customers of today greatly enjoy.
This data will create a pathway for companies to connect with the right clients while also illuminating the best solutions to the client's needs. Furthermore, the data can be used further to personalize services in the following ways:
Simplified Customer-Friendly Systems
Many finance-related companies confuse their clients with complicated processes and a wide range of products and services. However, what they should really be focused on is providing a simple, effective, and streamlined customer experience. Simplifying systems by automating tasks is a key way for companies to free up resources that can then be allocated to focusing on the customer experience.
For instance, financial service providers can take advantage of new technologies like APIs and chatbots (or Intelligent Virtual Agents) to assist clients through their websites and social media platforms. This offers an avenue for the clients to carry out basic tasks, including checking their account balance and bank statements, activating their card, making payments, initiating cardless withdrawals on ATMs, and so forth. These self-service options help to increase brand loyalty while also reducing costs.
Dedicated Customer Support
Although automation largely tackles the numerous problems faced by customers, there is a limit to operations that can be automated. A customer service representative will need to be present to provide solutions to some problems. However, financial institutions should not make the mistake of recruiting a haphazard team with no specific tasks to tackle.
The only way companies can ensure the smooth running of their support service is by integrating specificity, meaning that each person or team attends to the specific needs of a select group of clients. For instance, an organisation can single out a person or create a team whose only task is to solve billing issues.
Using Reviews and Ratings to Boost Customer Confidence
Companies can encourage their clients to actively participate in shaping the brand’s future by publishing honest reviews. This way the financial service providers can start a dialogue with their audience and possibly solve pressing issues, thereby improving brand perception and trust. Reviews and ratings have the power to turn everyday clients into brand advocates who will recommend the company to people around them.
In recent years, reviews and ratings have served as a yardstick that people use to evaluate a product or service before making a purchase. A Bizrate Insights survey conducted in 2019 shows that 92% of consumers judge a product by reading the reviews before buying. It also states that 56% of the survey participants read at least four reviews, and 12% read 10 or more reviews to ensure that the product or service in question has enough social proof.
Not only do reviews and ratings play key roles in trust-building and reputation management, but they also help to boost online visibility and search engine rankings. Numerous studies have shown that reviews account for about 11% – 15% of the factors considered in the Google Map Pack and Google My Business ranking. This implies that reviews can boost the relevance of a business within a given locale. The Google algorithm pays attention to the number of reviews accumulated by a business, the diversity of the published reviews, how recent the reviews are, and the overall star rating.
Encourage Customers to Publish Reviews
Research shows that 68% of consumers are happy to give feedback if brands ask. Technological advancements have made it easy for companies to obtain reviews by creating profiles on various third-party review websites. It is also worth noting that most review platforms have rules that prohibit brands to offer incentives in exchange for positive reviews.
However, Revain allows the use of incentives to encourage clients to publish their feedback. Plus, the platform's algorithm makes it difficult for companies to publish fake positive reviews to artificially boost their star rating. In addition, a good number of companies also direct customers to publish reviews on their official websites as a way of obtaining first-hand reviews.
Respond To Every Review
While prospects are searching for other users’ reviews about a company, they also look to see how the company in question engages its clients and responds to reviews.
According to a recent survey, more than a half of customers expect a response to their negative reviews within seven days. Several research studies conducted by experts have shown the effects of negative reviews on businesses. Womply’s 2019 research indicates that revenue generation in companies with a star rating of one to 1.5 on the Google search engine is 33% less than that of companies with average ratings. The research also found that companies that respond to over 20% of their reviews tend to generate 33% more revenue than average companies.
Provide Quick Responses
Most negative reviews are published by clients who had a bad experience with a particular brand. However, brands stand a better chance of cushioning the effect of negative reviews by responding quickly. If a brand quickly gets involved and offers possible solutions to an unhappy client, that person is more likely to remain loyal to that brand. According to a Harvard Business Review publication, consumers will most likely buy more products or services from a brand that responds quickly to their reviews.
A report published by Bazaarvoice states that 70% of consumers changed their view about a brand after getting a response to their online reviews. They pointed out that their perception changed because the brands exhibited professionalism and care for their customers. Another survey by ReviewTrackers.com found that 45% of prospects are more likely to do business with a company that responds to negative reviews. To respond promptly to reviews, financial institutions must always be on the lookout for reviews related to their brands on their official websites, social media posts, and third-party review platforms.
Never Delete Negative Reviews
According to the report by the Local Search Associattion, consumers tend to dislike businesses with perfect review profiles because they seem too good to be true. As a result, most 5-star rated companies generate less income than 1 – 1.5 star rated companies. Also, businesses with a 3.5 – 4.5 star rating are considered more genuine and trustworthy by customers.
Experts suggest that financial institutions can actually take advantage of negative reviews to build up their online reputations. Brands can listen to, evaluate, and utilize customers’ ratings and reviews to identify areas that demand some improvement.
Embracing the Advantages of the Human Factor
Humans are social creatures, and this can be used for building trust in the financial services industry. Individuals feel more comfortable interacting with another human instead of a faceless organization. The human element can be integrated into financial services in the following ways.
Providing Reliable Services
This is an obvious quality a financial institution should have. But taking into account the series of fraud scandals, poor customer relationships, institutional collapse, and other issues faced by financial service providers, the industry needs to show more of it.
To build trust with customers, organizations have to provide reliable service, tailored to satisfy customers' needs. This could be achieved by helping clients in a timely manner and providing better financial education to help them manage their money effectively. When an organization is reliable, its customers feel comfortable and in control of their money, leading to a stronger relationship.
Being Accessible to Customers
One of the sure-fire ways to gain customers’ trust is to be available when they are in need of assistance. This means that financial service providers must be available round-the-clock to provide quick responses to customers’ inquiries. In addition, companies must set up various touchpoints through which customers can contact them without hassle. The various communication platforms to explore include hotlines, social media, emails, and website contact forms. These platforms should be connected - and this is key - through an omnichannel CRM so that the customer’s communication with the company is completely seamless. If financial service providers can actively show up and engage with their customers when needed, they will undoubtedly build trust over time.
In the financial services industry, the main cause of the trust issues between companies and customers is the lack of transparency. In most cases, consumers have little-to-no knowledge about how financial institutions operate because there is an unwillingness to disclose information. To correct this deficiency, financial organizations should actively share the details of their business operation and how they serve the needs of their clients.
Being transparent with customers also involves listening to them. Therefore, companies must conduct regular surveys to obtain customer feedback, then analyse the responses and come up with ideas to tackle the problems customers are facing. When companies take these steps, customers will appreciate the commitment to improvement and have a reason to put their trust in the company once again.
It used to be that customers generally trusted the big brands in the financial industry, but the situation has changed. With the economic meltdown of 2008 and the series of frauds, leaks, and scandals that followed, customers began to lose trust in financial institutions. To regain people's trust, various customer-centered approaches must be taken, including the ones mentioned above. These strategies will help companies provide a better customer experience, and build up customers’ trust.