Customer experience: Digital or not, get the human touch right

The most important thing remains to offer a standardised customer experience across the entire organisation.

Before the rapid advances made in digital technology over the last two decades, handling customers was a fairly straightforward process. They would call in or walk in and their issues would be dealt with immediately where possible.

Today, customers have more control of how they can reach the business: mobile phones and the internet have made it possible to reach businesses faster and more easily than ever before. Businesses are now under pressure to meet the heightened expectations of their customers for quick and efficient service, seamless experiences, and personalised engagement.

The digital age has fostered a culture of immediacy and instancy. Customers expect swift resolutions to their queries and issues, and they are not willing to wait. According to a Hubspot research, 90 percent of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. For 60 percent of customers, “immediate” means within 10 minutes.

As technology continues to evolve, personalisation and human connection will remain the cornerstones of customer loyalty. Ultimately, even with the advancements of digital channels and services that customers get from an organisation, what keeps them there is the experience they get wholesomely.

This is where customer experience(CX) comes in, beyond customer service. Customer experience entails understanding the customer expectations throughout their journey and addressing the pain points. Customers expect quality first, then speed second. They want to deal with brands that are easy to ‘do business with’, and this leads to retention which delivers economic value to the business.

Brands that recognise and adapt to these demands are more likely to thrive than those that do not.

It is the same in the banking sector. Customers are no longer passive recipients of services but active participants in their own financial journeys.

How should banks react? They can start by viewing customer experience as a value rather than cost centre. Research by Accenture shows that companies that adopt this approach achieve more than three times revenue growth than those that don’t.

In this landscape, financial institutions must embrace the concept of customer-centric narratives. This means listening to customers, understanding their needs and preferences, and responding with tailored solutions.

It requires a departure from ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches and a move toward personalised experiences that resonate on an individual level.

While nobody can deny that digital channels have become increasingly important in the Kenyan banking sector, with mobile banking being the most preferred channel according to the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) 2023 customer satisfaction survey, customers still want to feel valued and cared for across their customer journey.

The same survey shows that consumers prefer fully automated self-service channels when asked to choose their banking service channel preferences. Still, a good number of banks continue to expand their brick-and-mortar presence as the physical experience remains a critical component of customer satisfaction. Unlike automated solutions, human beings can form a genuine connection with a customer, which is crucial for strengthening customer relationships.

Customers value empathy, understanding, and personal interaction with a banking partner who truly cares, especially when navigating complex financial decisions.

The most important thing remains to offer a standardised customer experience across the entire organisation, ensuring that every touchpoint, from the initial interaction to the final transaction, is smooth and consistent.

Even as digital technology grows, we must not forget that superior customer experience is not a luxury, but a baseline expectation.

The writer is the Head of Customer Experience at Diamond Trust Bank.

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