In an all-digital and omni-channel banking world, financial services are increasingly commoditized products. It’s harder and harder for banks to differentiate from fintech disruptors on product alone. Yet despite the fact that many banks already know this, their large and institutional nature means change remains slow in coming.
This has led to an increasingly frustrating dynamic. Despite their expertise and institutional resources, banks continue to hemorrhage market share. In the UK alone, research suggests banks could lose as much as 45% of the market.
The only response to such an environment is to compete on customer experience. Much digital ink is being spilled right now about how to accomplish this. But something’s certain; no matter what a bank does to build their customer experience, one thing remains constant — it requires empowered customer service employees.
Empowered Employees Empower CS Technology
The reason is simple; customer experience strategies are executed by customer service employees. Whatever bank management decides to do to face down the commoditization problem, CS is on the front lines. This is why it’s so critical to empower them.
The most meaningful reason for this is that empowered employees are ready to use their knowledge and talent to execute a clear vision.
Consider this: one of the most important things banks can do to enhance their customers’ journeys is adopt new technologies at key touchpoints. But technology alone is not enough; there needs to be buy-in from CS to leverage it effectively.
As an example, community customer service channels (such as forum message boards) must be properly curated by to be effective. Just throwing them up on the web is not only not enough; such a half-hearted attempt will most likely lead to bad customer experiences that actually do more harm than good. Success here requires an employee who has bought into the concept behind the technology and has the expert knowledge to execute it properly.
Creativity Is Key To Differentiation
Once empowered CS employees buy-in, they’re free to use their creativity to make a digital, omni-channel service strategy a success.
Consider the knowledge base solution. This touchpoint is considered one of the most essential self-help CS strategies that can differentiate a bank. However, just like with community forums, if the plan is to just throw one together and then forget about it, the cure is worse than the disease.
Employees need to be constantly monitoring and updating the information in any knowledge base. Creativity is required to interact with customers and leads in order to get feedback, understand their changing needs properly and modify or create resources accordingly.
Employees that are not empowered to speak freely with customers and make independent decisions just won’t be up to the task.
Empowered Employees Put The Customer First
Ultimately, the winning strategy for banks to beat the commoditization of financial services is to put the customer first. It’s important banks understand — the commoditization of products currently ongoing in the sector doesn’t translate into a commoditization of service.
In other words, tools and planning are the means, not the end. Empowering employees to use the tools available to them in dynamic and creative ways means they can create better CS experiences for customers and leads. Without empowered employees on the front lines, a bank risks implementing a slew of incomplete half-measures that will ultimately end up doing more harm than good.
In such an environment, it’s clear that empowering employees is the ultimate path to differentiation.