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Article 5 min read

3 top priorities in banking customer service

By Kate Crane, Content Marketing Manager

Last updated July 1, 2019

Every day, customers are comparing you to the best customer experiences they have, even if that’s Amazon and you’re a time-honored regional banking institution that has never shipped a book or a case of cereal in its 150-year history. Not fair but true all the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re good; you have to improve. No longer are most people willing to carve out time in their day for a trip to a brick-and-mortar trip just to do a simple transaction. Consumers want you to provide access to their money and information at all times—without losing the personalized customer experience that banks have traditionally provided. That Chatbot had better be a knockout, and a sharp, relatable human had better be available, on the phone or face-to-face, no matter what. In fact, 40% of banking clients would be more inclined to stay with their bank if it offered more personalized service, according to Accenture, and consumer switching to virtual banks is at double-digit levels.

Read on for some top traits among companies in the banking industry. If you’re doing these three things, chances are you are meeting rising customer expectations and safeguarding customer loyalty.

Your approach is omnichannel and still human

Customers can interact with banks in any number of ways, and it can be frustrating if they can’t get the same quality of customer experience across all channels. McKinsey cites a 2017 survey of banks in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific that reports 60 percent of active banking customers use digital channels, both online and mobile, and 80 percent of all customer touchpoints occur on digital (this figure is 72 percent in the FIS Consumer Banking Report, with millennials leading the way). Yet, according to the same research, digital channels represent just 25 percent of sales (20 percent online, 5 percent mobile). That means the human touch is still critical in banking customer service; omnichannel means all channels in banking, including digital ones but also the traditional style: in-person. And what this looks like is far from random. McKinsey says customers are in particular less willing to use digital channels when they are working with more complex banking products like mortgages and investments. This makes sense—it’s the kind of problem solving most of us want to talk through with an expert, in the form of your employee or customer service specialist.

Remember that not all customers want the same thing. The “What’s Now+Next for consumer banking in the United States” report says that American consumers overall value their needs for trust and simplicity most; baby boomers want convenient locations; and all younger generations most highly prize digital self-service. In particular, digital payment ranks as most important to young millennials, who this report calls passionate users of person-to-person (P2P) payments.

The digital experience you deliver is outstanding

An excellent omnichannel customer service experience cannot just be oriented toward the experience of the people you serve. When you aim for this, you must also provide a single source of truth and consistent tools to your customer service agents.

To deliver an engaging digital experience—and to improve upon it—your solution should simplify the customer journey with online and mobile communication channels. Your employees should have access to comprehensive client profiles so they can provide personalized advice, which will also help them to anticipate client needs and build relationships over time. Proactive outreach based on customer profiles and behavior is increasingly crucial: Ideally, your agents should be able to set up event-based triggers to advise and promote new features to clients.

For the customer experience itself, the Accenture report on Innovative Trends in Retail Banking goes in depth into the impact of financial technology (FinTech): “New players will compete fiercely with banks in vertical areas such as payments, foreign exchange and remittances. However, thanks to open infrastructures, some clever incumbents have turned to orchestrating FinTechs, rather than competing on equal terms with them.” Savvy players, says the report, point customers seeking banking services, such as a terrific personal financial app or Facebook-connected payment option, to their own marketplace. In this way, customers can do business in a “safe and trustworthy” environment, but the bank will not need to have reinvented the tech wheel, thanks to integrated third-party “bricks.” The report cites the example of First Direct, which partnered with UK-based FinTech Bud, a platform where users can aggregate all their digital financial services. When someone wants to do an international money transfer, they can use TransferWise, but First Direct does not have to have the capacity to do this in-house.

You keep your customers’ data safe

Trust is always part of the customer relationship, but it’s particularly mission-critical in the banking industry. It’s hard to win that trust, and not so hard to destroy it. Accenture reported in 2016 that 11% of consumers left their bank in the past year. It’s important to establish trust with your clients from the first interaction, and to continually build it over time. Customers have a lot of questions about security. “Can I trust my data is secure?” — that’s a big one. Staying up-to-date with the latest developments in customer data security and demonstrating compliance with major global regulations are foundational.

Other critical capacities include the ability to communicate securely with encrypted channels, display relevant and role-based data to associates with secure permissioning, maintain complete audit trails for data ingestion, transfer, and processing. Finally, a bank must have enterprise-class security features with comprehensive audits of applications, systems, and networks to ensure customer and business data is always protected.

The tools are incredibly high tech, and they have to be. Banks must provide stellar customer service, and constantly improve it, using the most cutting-edge new technology at any given moment. But the result is ideally more old-fashioned: trust.

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