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The problem with customer experience in Australia's finance industry

Ernez Dhondy Senior UX Consultant

Customer experience is quickly becoming its own currency and it is not a currency the finance industry here in Australia knows how to invest in. The current digital landscape is littered with companies and services whose business models are geared toward this idea of creating an experience for their customers. However when we look at the finance industry in Australia through a customer experience lens we do not see an industry that is embracing and utilising new technology, nor do we see an industry that is willing to challenge, let alone change, the way it delivers its products and services to suit the needs of an ever diversifying customer base.

When examining the finance industry what I see is a monolith, an industry almost unwilling to evolve to match the environment around it. An industry which will soon be challenged by digital products and disruptive service models and potentially lose a significant chunk of its customer base because of this.

Digital Disruption

This change is happening around the world. In the US small challenger financial brands such as Moven and Simple (both purely online banking services) have been introducing products that not only make banking easier by helping you to budget with a smart array of feature and tools, but also rewards customer loyalty with lower transaction fees or access high overdraft facilities. The Europeans are getting in on the action as well, Fidor, a bank in Germany, actually pays customers to “like” its Facebook page.

Financial institutions around the world are beginning to realise that we are in the golden age of the customer where providing high quality services is simply not enough and brands must strive to deliver the best possible end-to-end experience throughout a customer’s journey across every touch point.

What About Australia?

Locally there are a few standout institutions that are starting to factor the customer and their needs into the way they structure their services and products - but looking at the industry holistically, there doesn’t seem to be enough done. Financial institution’s operating hours still seem to be at conflict with the working public’s free time, which is hard when they tend to rely heavily on offline process and transactions to carry out the simplest of tasks.

The uptake of new technology within these institutions also seems slow; look at the security devices they make us carry around with us. Very few of their mobile platforms are memorable or noteworthy and almost none of them seem to provide information beyond the details of their products and service. The industry doesn’t appear to be offering us much support beyond trying to sell to us which is a pretty ineffective engagement technique.

Your Next Steps..

With the customer firmly in control it is time for financial brands to be bold and make sweeping changes to the way they deliver customers value to customers. Customers don’t need additional information about your products, the internet is already abuzz with opinions, reviews and critiques of them. Customers don’t want to come into your branches to get the same old sales spiel everyone else has already given them. Customers don’t need witty televisions advertisements that make you look cool, hip and gen-y oriented, they already know you’re none of those things. 

What do customers want?

Well I don’t know, because your customers are unique. You may not think so but remember your customers are different to your competitor’s customers simply because they choose to transact with you. Understanding why they made that choice is that start point when designing any experience.

If you are a customer experience advocate in your organisation, you need to start thinking about;

  • How you can involve the customer when developing new products and strategies
  • How you measure the success of your products and services through the customer lens
  • How you can help your organisation develop a deeper understanding of their customer

At Precedent, we place an incredible amount of effort in helping our clients understand the behaviours and actions of their customers when engaging with any brand because we think that a meaningful customer experience strategy can help shape the strategic direction of a brand. We design our entire process from what methods we use to conduct research, i.e. ethnography, interviews or survey, down to how we develop cohesive and meaningful strategies that will help you improve your methods of engagement. We co-create and co-design strategies with our client in the room because we know that any good idea must be grounded by reality of the way they operate.

To learn more about creating the optimum experience for your customers, drop us a line on +61 3 9633 5100 or hello@precedent.com

You can also join the waiting list for our Customer Experience report due out later this year.