LINKING CUSTOMER AND EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK TO GIVE THE COMPETITIVE EDGE IN FINANCIAL SERVICES

By Paul Barnes, UK Managing Director for QuestBack, a leading provider of online survey and managed feedback technology

Driven by a combination of greater consumer power and tighter regulation, the financial services market is moving to a more customer-centred model. Companies need to maximise the customer experience if they want to differentiate themselves and stay competitive.

Financial regulators are demanding that the needs of the customer comes before pure profit, while better informed consumers are unafraid to use their new power to move provider or complain about perceived poor service or mis-selling. And consumers are now interacting on an expanding range of channels, all of which must deliver the right experience, all of the time, if companies are to retain their business.

Look to your employees, not just your customers
Gathering customer feedback and using the insights it can provide is key. Thankfully, customers are now extremely willing to share their feedback on financial brands and their products and services. Most organisations already use a combination of Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes, market research and, increasingly, online communities, to get closer to customers and deepen understanding. These need to be structured in a way that encourages feedback from customers, in ways that suit them and they also need to fit in with today’s mobile, time poor, consumer lifestyle. Short, event-driven surveys at particular points on the customer journey or communities that provide a forum for involving customers in co-creation of new products and services are now becoming the norm.

However, this is only part of the picture – engaging employees is vital if you are to deliver the service that consumers demand and build customer loyalty. Staff that are engaged are typically more productive, more considerate of the customer experience, and more likely to stay with the company long enough to develop a powerful understanding of how things work. They’re the people who will deliver loyalty-inspiring customer experience.

Employees are on the frontline, interacting with customers every day. This means they are in a unique position to provide deep insight that can be used to improve processes, products and operations. Engaged employees provide bright ideas, based on their experiences and yes, it is a cliché, but happy staff lead to happy customers. And all this leads to greater loyalty.

Additionally, front line employees hear a lot of unsolicited feedback from customers. This gives them access to insight no customer satisfaction survey can provide. For example, employees can tell you about customer comments even if that customer never responds to a survey. They can tell you what makes customers smile the most, and what customers say about competing products or services.

Tying it all together for competitive edge
Analysing customer or employee feedback in isolation only gives partial insight. Not having the complete picture can lead to decisions that don’t deliver the desired outcomes, and can even hinder your operations.

And things are changing. Successful financial services companies are starting to combine customer experience and employee engagement feedback, and link them to business drivers and metrics.

By unifying the two they gain benefits in a number of areas, including:
• Increased understanding of customer behaviour through a holistic view
• The ability to link customer satisfaction with engaged employees and use this to create and reward positive role models
• Monitoring of employee engagement levels – are customer interactions around specific products lowering morale and engagement?
• Gaining insight from employees that enhances customer feedback
• Getting early warning of issues and processes that need to be changed
• Using insight linked to your objectives to drive change within the organisation

Bringing customer and employee feedback together does require cross-departmental working, involving both HR and the customer experience/marketing teams. Technology platforms that scale to cover both areas are available and can underpin this holistic view, bringing together information into a single place, where it can be analysed by all parts of the business, spreading the insights throughout the organisation – ultimately supporting better strategic decision making and deeper business transformation.

Everyone working in financial services already knows that the sector is facing significant challenges. The combination of ever-more demanding customers, falling customer loyalty, regulatory pressure and increasing competition mean that the focus has to be on finding your competitive edge, being in tune with what is going in on your business and deepening consumer understanding. Companies need to take a holistic view of their entire business if they are to succeed, making it essential to combine employee and customer feedback to provide a unified picture of operations. Only this will allow them to meet the current and future challenges of the financial services sector, improve loyalty and deliver greater revenues. Now is the time for financial services companies to take a holistic view of insight in order to transform their operations and competitiveness moving forward into the future.

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