“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve” - Bill Gates
Banking at all levels is becoming increasingly digitalized and the majority of customers seem to like it, more speed, more simplicity, less time wasted and, for some, collecting points, getting rewards and offers.
But customers also make it clear that they want more than this. They want to enjoy it also, to feel good about their interactions with their banking partners and that brings in the whole nebulous world of human emotions. Getting more automation yet retaining the personal touch sounds almost like a complete tautology.
Doesn't more of one automatically eliminate the other?
A report sponsored by BAI in the Digital Banking Report, shows that banks and financial institutions put a lot of emphasis on improving the customer experience, yet the majority have limited that experience to improving speed and simplicity whilst focusing on applying technology principally for bettering their bottom line.
Research by the Temkin Group shows that most customer decisions in banking are based on intuitive thinking, not rational thinking. That's a ground shaker, for the banks themselves and for the customers themselves.
Where's the intuition in a bill that needs paying? It just needs paying. The customer might feel good that he has removed, quickly, easily and in the shortest possible time, that obligation from his to-do list, but that satisfaction is fleeting at best. Yet the Temkin research goes on to argue that the extent to which the intuitive predominates in these interactions means that the emotional content of digital banking cannot be ignored by the FIs and that those which do ignore it, that neglect to take into account the customers' emotional reactions to their interactions with the institution, run the greatest risk of losing customer loyalty.
The Temkin Group research admits that organizations, as a whole, tend to ignore consumer emotions even in non-digital situations, because the end goals, the organizational goals, are paramount. The group also argues that that neglect gets worse, not better, when the organization gets automated.
Customers feelings just don't come into digital experiences which are designed to appeal to customers' reason, not their emotions. Yet the automatic human reaction is to reject being reduced to a cipher. The human might like the speed, the simplicity and the time-saving but ends up feeling dehumanized. Proof of that rejection is that telephone calls to real people at banks, and branch level customer service, continue to be used more by bank customers than digital solutions, because only these provide any possibility of satisfaction.
A Frontiers in Human Neuroscience paper by Kalina Cristoff says dehumanizing attitudes and behaviors are common in organizational settings and are seen as acceptable, innocent and benign, just a necessary part of a total strategy for pursuing organizational goals. Think going on a trip by plane or having a baby etc., all circumstances where the personal is left at the door. She debunks a number of commonly held beliefs that are commonly used to justify dehumanization, claiming that there is ample evidence emerging from social, psychological and neuroscientific research which demonstrates that these have profound, long-lasting and predominately negative consequences not just for the victim but for the perpetrator. She goes on to suggest ways in which dehumanization in organizational settings can be replaced with strategies that are not only ethically more acceptable but more productive in terms of the longer-term relationship.
The same report found that more than 200 FIs world wide, whilst paying lip-service to the idea of personalising and improving the customer experience, were not actually attaining the goal of actually providing what their customers actually wanted.
For FIs to improve the emotional experience of their customers because intuition plays a more important role that they have previously credited, it is going to mean going a lot further than merely getting a team of excellent tech-nerds to design digital interfaces and marketing programs.
In the next blog, we will look at what is essential to achieving this end...
In the meantime, you may want to see how Prisma Campaigns is designed to bring your personalized communications to the next level.
Learn how to make each client feel special