This week saw the re-emergence of a new name in British banking, with the creation of TSB. Formed from 600 branches of Lloyds Group, it has 5 million customers and promises to focus on local customers and businesses.
The divestment of the branches was mandated by the EU as part of the state bailout of Lloyds during the banking crisis. Originally due to be sold to Co-Operative Bank, when that deal fell through TSB was created and is expected to be floated on the stock exchange next year.
With the industry rocked by misselling scandals, such as around Payment Protection Insurance (PPI), regulators see increased choice as a key part of improving the customer experience delivered by banks by increasing competition. However in the short term, little will change for those TSB customers that have moved across from Lloyds – the products they are offered will remain the same, as will their interest rates. Existing Lloyds credit and debit cards will still work for TSB customers.
And while the majority of the transition was seamless, the new TSB website suffered intermittent problems on its first day of operation, causing customers to take to social media to complain.
So what areas do banks need to focus on to ensure they are delivering the right customer experience and ensuring loyalty in a more competitive market?
Banks need to be better at explaining what customers are signing up for – in terms that are easy to understand, rather than full of jargon. This clarity should run across all written documentation including forms, marketing material, websites as well as new channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
In an omnichannel world the majority of customers don’t interact with the bank through a branch, but over the internet and telephone. Every channel needs to work together so that information is up to date and consistent, whatever channel is used.
3 Customer focused
One of the reasons for the PPI scandal was that banks focused more on sales targets than customer needs, failing to explain products sufficiently and consequently selling the wrong solution. Banks must look at what will help customers make the most of their money if they are to avoid future misselling scandals.
Given widespread consumer dissatisfaction with banks, the industry is under pressure from regulators to change. The launch of TSB, along with other initiatives such as faster switching of current accounts, provides the opportunity to win back trust by putting the customer experience at the heart of everything that the banking sector does.
Guest post by Dominic Tavassoli, VP Product Management, Eptica
Customer service teams should look to leverage cutting edge linguistic technology to address challenges of scalability and efficiency, as well as customer satisfaction.
Great hospital emergency rooms excel at what is known as triage, being able to rapidly determine the priority of the treatment of patients, based on the severity of their condition; triage is necessary to help the most patients in the most efficient way, with limited resources.
Customer service teams need smarter ways of dealing with growing numbers of customer requests, coming from a variety of channels (phone, email, Facebook, Twitter and Web chat to just name a few). When 80% of business-relevant information originates in an unstructured form, customer service requests will arrive in the language and terminology of the user, within the format of the channel of choice. This makes it harder to route the request to the right person in the most efficient way possible.
Many organisations successfully reduce the incoming volumes by setting up a self-service knowledgebase, but the value of the results depends on how good the search function is. Will a search for “Can I bring my cat on the plane?” return articles about “cat”, “cats”, but also “pets” and “animals”? Naturally, it would be a time sink to manually enter and maintain all these keyword variants.
Linguistic disciplines such as Natural Language Processing will help organisations tackle these challenges, and more:
- Extracting key terms, concepts and topics from text helps smarter routing and bulk treatment of requests, resulting in efficiency gains;
- Semantic expansion allows the system to understand the meaning of a request, for better search results and more immediate answers, leading to higher customer satisfaction and reduced costs;
- Sentiment and tonality analyses provide insights into the emotions behind a message, which for instance could direct clients who are angry about late deliveries to a senior specialist in logistics while happy, positive users are put in contact with the marketing team as possible brand advocates to support revenue generation;
- Linguistic analysis in general will start to fill the gap between company jargon and the language a real customer actually uses.
Assess your volume of incoming digital requests as well as its evolution: are volumes increasing? At the same time, estimate the efficiency of your current processes: are priority messages treated as swiftly and professionally as necessary? Does customer service risk becoming a bottleneck for the growth of your business? If so, consider customer support platforms that include strong linguistic capabilities, which will help scale your operations without hurting your budget. Make sure the vendor has the necessary linguistic team in house so that they can pre-populate and continually evolve the tool set.
This will enable you to set up the future-proof triage system you need, because customer satisfaction is ultimately a question of life or death for every business.