By Glen Manchester, CEO of Thunderhead

High street banks have had a rough time of it in recent years. A series of scandals has adversely affected people’s attitudes towards them, particularly PPI. Now though, as we hear the number of complaints about PPI has begun to decrease, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reports the disappointing news that customer complaints have spiked by a third in the past year, with a marked increase in complaints about pre-packaged accounts.

Banks can start to address this problem by providing services that are more personal and relevant. One-size-fits-all packaged accounts, often comprising “worthless” insurance policies, speak to a much larger problem facing banks: poor customer engagement. It’s important they start to engage with customers in meaningful conversations, seamlessly across every touch-point, respond to their needs and individual preferences, and focus on delivering value at every step. This approach has never been so necessary – and yet so attainable. The days of businesses holding a monopoly on information are over. Nowadays, the customer can talk back, and isn’t afraid to do so. Believe it or not, this is a good thing. Focusing on engagement rather than sales will improve the individual experience and add value across the customer journey as a whole, with the increase in sales a happy side-effect.

Thunderhead invests heavily in R&D to be able to provide our clients with innovative solutions that enable them to cut through the noise and reach their customers. With today’s cloud technology, brands can achieve a level of engagement that businesses even ten years ago could only dream of.

The contemporary consumer is a moving, evolving target. Consumers move freely between devices and channels, expecting a brand story to unfold seamlessly across touch-points. The customer journey is forever in flux, changing, evolving over time. Fortunately, the cloud enables brands to guide and adapt to the customer journey, in real-time.

Poor customer experience has a direct impact on the bottom line. Fact. By failing to demonstrate to their customers that they know and understand them, banks will ultimately fail to convey that they appreciate them as well. In the current business climate where the consumer is king, this is madness. Jumping ship is easier than ever with seven day switching and positive customer word-of-mouth is, in the age of social media, a precious and mercurial asset. A cursory look at the research backs this up; a third of consumers will share bad experiences online, or in person. The average person will share a negative experience with 25 people! A brand cannot afford to neglect even one customer, particularly when 25 potential customers could get wind of it.

Banks stand to benefit immensely from adopting a more human-shaped approach. Just over half (52%) of customers we surveyed say they have seen no improvement in their relations with businesses in the last three years; and one quarter say they have worsened. On the other hand, most customers (83%) appreciate receiving personalised and relevant information, and importantly have an improved opinion (89%) of businesses that demonstrate that they can remember previous interactions with them.

First and foremost, each customer is a unique person, with individual needs, and they will respond to banks that can provide them with a genuinely personalised service. Unfortunately, what the complaints about pre-packaged policies indicate is that banks don’t really know or understand who their customers are. By focusing on the customer, listening and adapting to their needs, banks can dramatically improve customer engagement, and build deeper and more valuable relationships. When engagement improves, revenues improve. In short, it is possible for both banks and customers to be happy.

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