Think about the number of times you’ve walked into a store in the past month. If that number has dramatically decreased in the past few years, you are not alone.
2017 was a pivotal year in changing the consumer behavior. It was the first time that online purchases captured the majority (51% according to Deloitte) of the overall anticipated spend. It’s not only how customers are shopping that is changing, but also how customers want to interact with companies.
What is creating this shift? While a move toward digital is being embraced by all generations, it has been propelled forward by millennials. According to research by Accenture, there are approximately 80 million millennials in the United States, and collectively they have a buying power of $600 billion. By 2020, Accenture expects that number to reach $1.4 trillion annually, 30% of total retail sales.
While the research focuses on retail spending, it is an important wake-up call for the financial industry. This group of consumers have a growing buying power and is the latest generation looking for new ways to bank, save and invest. This shift in generational preferences should make companies re-think how they interact with their customers. Even though the digital transformation in the financial space has moved slower than other industries (primarily due to compliance and regulatory considerations), it doesn’t mean that financial institutions can continue with the status quo. If an organization can’t evolve to create the level of customer experience expected, someone else will.
The shift to digital may sound overwhelming, but there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Other industries, such as retail, have paved the way and there are proven best practices to follow. To get you started, below are three key points to consider when creating an omnichannel customer experience platform that meets millennials’ expectations for a more personalized digital experience.
Take the time to learn what your customers want. Too many times, organizations think they know what their customers want, only to be surprised when a new initiative doesn’t produce results. While there are similarities in behavior from industry to industry, as well as company to company, it is critical to identify the unique challenges of your customer experience journey by using statistical, observational and experiential data. Taking a step back often uncovers interesting insights — from common pain points to the need for different customer service channels. The two things that never waver however is the customer’s need for increased speed to proficiency and to reduce performance variability.
Provide end-to-end customer support. Traditional customer service journeys are becoming increasingly complicated, and customer demands for frictionless and convenient interactions are largely underserved. Once the background information has been collected, action must be taken. Not only must support be offered on desired channels, these channels must be connected. Say a customer contacts a customer representative on the phone, that representative must have the historical view of past interactions — no matter on which channel the interaction occurred. It is developing this end-to-end customer experience that will spur loyalty.
Embrace new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning. We are entering another wave in the digital revolution, called the Wave of Intelligence, or better stated, the era of Intelligent Empowerment. The challenge here is balancing the value and complexity of more transactions with the right levels of human interaction and automation (technology). For example, while the future calls for more automated communication via chat, text, email and social media, this does not mean the role of the agent will disappear. Instead, technology will make it possible to complete simple, repetitive tasks and responses systematically, freeing up agents for more complex problems that require creative solutions.
For example, smart systems that are AI-enabled use a combination of client and customer data, as well as integrated knowledge-based systems. With supervised machine learning, systems can reason based on historical interactions, patterns and new product/process data to better guide and empower both agents and customers. This data-enabled intelligence allows companies to provide simpler and faster engagements, regardless of who is delivering the answer to the customer — human or machine.
Every touch point is an opportunity to make a positive impression. The person on the phone is as important as a bank teller, and the website is just as important as the layout of the brick-and-mortar store. Given the shift in expectations, only those that take a holistic view of customer experience will achieve position retention and growth in market share — ultimately separating the winners from the losers.
One last thing to consider when serving millennial customers — build an experience that is authentic to your organization. Too many companies "get creative" with their strategies, only to lose sight of their own culture and values. The key is to believe in your services, get to know your customers and create an on-brand strategy that meets all your customer needs, including millennials.