Are financial institutions lagging behind retailers when it comes to customer experience?

A new survey from Computer Services, Inc. (CSI) notes that more than half of bankers plan to increase spending on customer experience initiatives in 2017. Specifically, 55 percent of bankers plan to increase spending on customer experience initiatives this year, while nearly half (47 percent) say they will use omnichannel technologies to attract new customers as their top opportunity.

CSI surveyed more than 160 bank executives on the top obstacles, opportunities, and priorities facing their institutions. While several topics emerged through the survey, respondents indicated banks would be placing a heavy emphasis on customer experience initiatives this year.

“In a crowded marketplace, financial institutions must prove their value to the customer, which includes offering service experiences on par with other providers, especially those outside the banking industry,” said Steve Powless, chief executive officer for CSI. “Banks must deliver services that allow customers to access financial services where and how they want, which means they will need to focus more of their attention and investments on technologies that directly affect the consumer.”

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Evan Magliocca, brand marketing manager for Baesman Insights & Marketing, offered Loyalty360 his take on the study.

“I think banks are lagging behind retail right now,” Magliocca said. “Retailers have such obvious dependence on customer paths to purchase, but for banking, it’s a bit more obscure but just as important in today’s digital climate.”

Digital touch points encompass people’s feelings about brands of any vertical, Magliocca said.

“Ultimately, if you ask someone how they feel about Chase or Nordstrom, the answer will hinge on digital experiences in either case—both positive experiences and frustrations,” he added. “As banks look to new models to compete with Venmo and other innovators, those experiences become even more important for customer retention.”

Some other key survey highlights related to enhancing the customer experience include:

When asked to name the areas in which they expect to increase spending in 2017, 55 percent of respondents noted customer experience initiatives, which trailed only cybersecurity (57 percent) and information technology (56 percent).

When asked which omnichannel strategies are the most important, respondents ranked implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) solution first.

Respondents specified the greatest anticipated strategies to enhance the customer experience are digital banking enhancements at 41 percent, CRM utilization at 12 percent, and omnichannel at 10 percent.

“As financial institutions begin planning in the new year, boosting profitability and identifying areas of growth have never been more important,” Powless said. “Using CSI’s 2017 Banking Priorities Study as a guide, financial institutions can better identify the opportunities and challenges affecting the industry as a whole, and they can use that data to assist them in reaching their unique goals and sustaining ongoing success.”

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