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Marije Gould, VP, Verint

The new ‘challenger’ banks, such as Swedish bank Handelsbanken and UK based Scoban and Paragon bank, have different approaches to tailored and timely customer service. Since theiremergence, interesting legislation has been passed which will allow new banks to open more easily in the UK in a bid to boost competition and attract new blood into a market so long dominated by the four or five staple names.

While the industry might become more crowded, what will really determine the success of new entrants and existing players is putting customers at the heart of their operations. This is particularly significant in light of recent bank account switching regulation that makes it easier for customers to change providers if they are dissatisfied with service. Nearly 800,000 UK consumers have switched current accounts since September 2013 so far. So with churn rates on the rise, financial organisations need to do all they can to keep customers onside – and this involves more engagement.

According to our recent research, finance providers fail to provide the ‘feel good’ factor amongst its customers: just 3% of consumers have received vouchers or rewards as a ‘thank you’. In fact, financial organisations and retail banks ranked joint lowest (alongside insurance providers) for satisfaction. However, the research also uncovered an opportunity for banks to encourage more vocal customers and nurture their ‘Silent Likers’ – customers which are overall the happiest with the service received, but aren’t engaging with their bank. Nearly a fifth (18%) will tell friends and family if they have a positive experience with their bank, presenting a lucrative opportunity here to get the conversation going.

So, how do they make the most of this opportunity? First and foremost, it is all about understanding the voice of your customers better and directly engaging with them more often. This can be done by collecting and analysing feedback from customers across multiple channels; in-branch, through the contact centre and through other communication channels including email, chat and social media.. Banks can then act on this information by improving their customer interactions and offering a more tailored and personalised service.

While some banks are starting to do analyse all customer interactions, many are failing to alert customers about the changes they are making in response to feedback. Given that such communications will help customers feel valued and that their opinions make a difference, it’s in the financial organisation’s best interest to do this. If they don’t, customers will simply go elsewhere.

Given that consumers are less willing to put up with poor service and experiences, and are now more empowered than ever before to switch service providers, these providers need to think hard about how they can keep their customers happy and loyal. A big part of this is getting to know their customers and finding out their individual likes and dislikes. These insights will allow them to offer personalised communication and greater, more targeted interaction with each and every customer to make them feel valued and understood – something evidently critical at this time of increased competition.