According to a new study from Accenture, in 2011, 27 percent of Retail Banking/Financial Service customers added another provider while staying with their current bank. This is a 3 percent increase from 2010. The report titled The New Realities of “Dating” in the Digital Age: Are Customers Really Cheating, or Are You Just Not Paying Enough Attention calls this behavior “cheating” or a “partial-switch.”
The study identified five potential blind spots over the course of the provider-customer relationship that leaves customers more open to switching providers.
- Nice to Meet You – Missing the chance to set the right expectations at the onset of a customer relationship.
- You Don’t Know Me Anymore – Not noticing more subtle changes that matter in customers’ need for recognition, special treatment and reward.
- Cheating Heart – Overlooking signs customers are itching to switch.
- Are you Listening? – Failure to offer consumers opportunities to engage with a provider.
- Trinkets Won’t Save Me – Relying on point solutions to satisfy and keep customers.
Customers are most satisfied with having employees who are polite and friendly, having customer service available at convenient times and having the customer experience match the promise the company makes up front. Customers are least satisfied with the amount of time they have to wait to be served. Customers said that the most important service areas are having employees who are knowledgeable and well-informed and having employees who are polite and friendly. The areas customers rate as least important are; being able to resolve questions/issues on their own, the amount of time it takes to read and understand information the company sends them and the number of choices they have to receive service the way they want it.
Companies are relying too much on technology point solutions to satisfy and keep customers. While two thirds of customers believe technology has improved the service experience, technology enhancements alone are not sufficient to acquire or retain customers, and other types of interactions are still critical (see related post 4 Reasons Why the Branch Remains the Cornerstone of the Retail Banking Relationship: Face to Face Trumps Technology).
Accenture has identified actions companies can take to help minimize or eliminate the “blind spots” and improve their ability to attract new customers, retain existing ones, and grow more strongly and sustainably.
- Set the Right Expectations Upfront Using the Right Intelligence – The customer acquisition and set-up processes are more critical than ever. The promises made to new customers sets the expectations by which the customers will judge future experiences. Companies can learn how to improve the experience by using insights gained from customers who have recently switched providers.
- Recognize Customers in Increments that Matter to Them – Companies should build a recognition program not from the company’s perception of an increase in engagement or spending, but from the customer’s perception.
- Identify the Triggers that Signal Imminent Switching – Companies need to look at more than customer retention rates. By looking at signals that a customer is about to leave, companies have the opportunity to save the relationship before they switch providers.
- Provide Meaningful Ways for Consumers to Engage with the Company, Including through Digital Channels – Companies need to give their customers opportunities to engage with the company, both online and offline.
The good news is that consumers reported increased satisfaction across each of 10 service characteristics evaluated. The challenge is that at the same time, customer expectations keep rising with 44 percent of customers saying their expectations today are higher than they were just a year ago and only one in four consumers feels “very loyal” to his or her provider. Failure to focus on the customer leaves firms vulnerable to competitors that don’t take their customers’ loyalty for granted.
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