Why Live Customer Service Still Matters for Banks and Credit Unions

The industry where the importance of customer service is still most evident is banking and finance. Our market research for financial institutions have proven this. Yes, still true even with growth in mobile banking. Over the past 5 years there has been an incredible amount of attention paid to mobile apps and online banking for customers and rightfully so. The 2015 State of Bank & Credit Union Marketing report confirmed this push. The survey was conducted among bank and credit union decision-makers across the country. Mobile banking ranked 1st in 2014 and 2nd in 2015 as the product that financial institutions will most heavily concentrate on in the next 12 months. In 2014, roughly 3 out of every 4 respondents stated mobile and online advertising will become more important in the next 12 months.

Why Live Customer Service Still Matters for Banks and Credit Unions

Why is mobile and online banking so popular in the financial industry?

Bain & Company and ResearchNow teamed up in 2012 to conduct a study on customer behaviors. Very simply, mobile and online banking is preferred by customers because: (1) it offers a high likelihood to delight and (2) offers a low likelihood to annoy. Mobile banking encourages short and brief exchanges (e.g., checking a balance, paying a bill, viewing banking hours, etc.) It is something that is done with relatively low effort with a low likelihood of something going wrong.

So with this mega-push towards online and mobile across all industries, shouldn't it devalue a live customer experience?

The answer is no because the high usage of mobile actually increases the importance and value of one-on-one live experiences through online chat, phone, or in-person.

Why does live customer service still matter to businesses?

The decreased frequency of in-person and telephone experiences with people has conversely increased the importance of each individual live experience. This means that if a customer only talks to one of your service reps twice a year, or once a year, they are going to remember that experience. This puts additional pressure on service reps to provide customers with positive experiences or those negative feelings might fester for many months or years before they call you or see you again. That's a long-time for the customer to consider other competitive offerings.

Because the live experiences are less frequent, this also places additional value on the customer experiences. As a result, live customer experiences become a significant driver to overall satisfaction, likelihood to recommend (NPS), and likelihood of churn. Regression analysis can confirm these drivers for you. It's a great research tool.

Live customer service is crucial for customers with major issues that need to be handled immediately. If a customer has a problem with a credit card, identify theft, or a question on an overdraft, you can bet they will not be sending an email or in many cases going online to read through policies. The first step will be to either go to the bank in-person or call the customer service line. If the issue is handled well, chances are the experience will be positive and it will drive up customer satisfaction and NPS. If the issues is not handled well, and it's a poor experience, you will increase the chances of customer churn to a competitor. What this tells us is that when a customer has a crucial issue, concern, or question, they will immediately jump to a "live" option, and as a business you need to have that option available to them. As a business you need to make sure you offer top-notch live customer service.

How can you determine if your customer services levels are up to snuff?

Market research can develop benchmarks that can be monitored over time. A good consultant will also help you identify areas of opportunity, recommendations, and an action plan to improve customer service. Drive Research is a market research company for banks and credit unions. Questions about your next market research project? Contact us at 315-303-2040 or at [email protected].

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