3 ways finserv brands can increase customer loyalty

Landon Barnes, principal of CX strategy consulting at UserTesting, explains how a new index can help managers in financial services create empathy-driven experiences and keep their customers happy.

Last Updated: 19 Jan 2022

It’s no secret that one of the keys to brand loyalty is truly understanding your customers. Since the pandemic hit, this has become even more of a focus. Customer empathy – the ability to understand your customers and act accordingly – helps deliver meaningful experiences and has become a competitive differentiator in these extremely challenging times.

National lockdowns have fundamentally changed the way organisations deliver experiences to their customers, and customer loyalty has been dramatically affected. Brands from all industries are now trying to establish or rebuild customer connections. And the best way to do this is through empathy-driven experiences.

Why banking needs to improve its customer relationships

There’s a lot of potential for improving empathy-driven experiences in the banking sector. While technology has changed the types of interactions customers have with their banks, this convenience can come at the expense of banks being able to know their customers in a more human way.

Our UK Banking Empathy Experience Index (EXi) found that 34% of customers of traditional banks had very poor or poor empathy-driven experiences with their banks. Fintechs elicit 12% more positive emotions than traditional banks but, despite this, 30% of fintech customers’ experiences were still classified as very poor or poor.

So how do you know if you’re doing a good job of offering exceptional customer experiences? Given that empathy is intangible, this can be difficult. That’s why we created The EXi, to provide a concrete benchmark of how businesses are performing in their delivery of empathy-driven experiences. 

The report has a wide range of insights and findings, but there are three key recommendations for how businesses can improve their empathy-driven experiences to maximise customer loyalty:

1. Create positive digital experiences

The future of banking may be digital, but customers don’t want to give up the feeling of cultivating a personal connection with their bank. Many customers miss walking into a bricks-and-mortar branch and speaking to an employee who knows them. This sense of community and belonging creates a unique trust that banks need to embed into their digital experiences. 

Our report found that NatWest does this by understanding its customers’ needs at specific moments. NatWest recognises that its customers may go through financial difficulty, and has built experiences to help them; these include training employees to understand the signs of financial hardship, as well as speaking to customers and recommending services that can help them. Most of these recommendations are done outside of bank branches. The positive response to this has shown that if you keep your customers’ best interests at heart, they will repay you with loyalty.

2. Nurture your employees

A vital, but often overlooked, aspect of customer experience is its inherent connection to employee experience. Happy employees lead to happy customers, and it’s vital that as traditional banks and fintechs build their customer journey maps, they map employee experiences too.

It’s important your employees care about their customers, because it’s easy to spot when they don’t. Demonstrating the importance of the work that your team is doing, and ensuring they feel like a valuable part of the process, can positively affect the customer experience. Try sharing highlights of excellent customer experience throughout the company, showing the amazing things your employees do for your customers.

3. Be your customers’ exceptional experience

With customer expectations higher than ever, brands must be aware they’re competing with every customer’s last exceptional experience, and not just that of direct competitors. Look outside your industry to identify best-in-class experiences that customers receive elsewhere and try to bring them into your business. Make sure these experiences are co-created with customers and align with your brand, but continually look to other industry best practices as a source of innovation. 

Regardless of sector or organisation, empathy-driven experiences are increasingly the gold standard to which your customers hold you. To remain competitive and build loyalty, it’s vital your company delivers experiences that are meaningful and memorable to your customers. 

UserTesting enables every organisation to deliver the best customer experience powered by human insight. Discover more about how the UK’s banks and fintechs scored, in the full EXi report here.

Image credit: Farknot_Architect via Getty Images

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