How will the customer experience in financial services evolve by 2030?

SA -Susan Allen, Head of Client Transformation, Barclays UK
AP – Adam Powers, Global Head of Experience Design, HSBC Wealth and Personal Banking
SR – Samantha Richardson, Senior Visionary Consultant, Twilio
KR – Kat Robinson, Director of Customer Experience, Metro Bank
AS – Ahmed Sheikh, Chief Digital Technology Officer, RSA

What could customer experience (CX) look like for financial services operators in 2030?
AP: Future predictions are always risky, but key elements point to the likely trajectory. The concept of each customer having their bank in their pocket will evolve and this smartphone experience will become more complete, contextual and personalized. There is also a push to simplify financial services in general and banking in particular. The industry needs to rely on the best CX in other environments like retail or the automotive industry.

SA: There has been such a significant shift towards digital banking. We’ve gone from zero to over 10 million registered app users in just eight years. However, no technology can provide empathy and a human touch. We still need to make it easier for people to access services in person, whether in branch, by telephone or by videoconference. Technology is opening up channels and opportunities for banking services to enter people’s homes.

KR: There’s a lot of foundational work to do to organize the cross-channel journeys, so that someone can start something in an agency and finish it later at home. While digital channels will be more developed by 2030, face-to-face banking will remain important. Research shows that three in four Britons are comfortable using technology to manage their money – but what about the other 25%?

AS: The banking industry has come a long way in its digital evolution, but other players in the financial services industry are lagging behind from a customer experience perspective. For example, it is interesting to compare what is happening in the United States, where customers can use subscription models to bundle insurance products from various providers. Insurtechs here are busy catching up, but regulators need to play a role and not stifle innovation.

SR: There is a massive desire to make financial services more accessible and to integrate them into our lives. Twilio works with customers around the world, and in some regions we are seeing the rise of WhatsApp banking. And in the United States, it is possible to complete an insurance claim from start to finish via text message. In Asia, data-driven super-apps allow customers to buy goods where it’s most convenient.

There is a massive drive to make financial services more accessible and to integrate them into our lives

What are today’s biggest customer experience challenges and opportunities for financial services operators?

AP: The role of brand experience is underestimated in many organizations, not just in financial services. There should be continuity of experience across all channels, across our products and services. If there isn’t, you will lose the customer’s trust. CX marketing and design teams need to collaborate more. Additionally, we implement the latest cybersecurity and authentication technologies because we want our customers to feel safe in an environment where fraud and scams are accelerating.

AH: One of the main challenges is that the cost of implementing technology will increase, especially for financial services with complex legacy systems. Operators want to meet growing customer expectations, but at a reasonable cost. As we move forward, this is the most significant practical implementation issue and could limit digital transformation. Likewise, cyber risk needs to be managed and mitigated, but organizations don’t want to get too bogged down. It’s a delicate balance to strike, because customers need this protection.

KR: There’s a technology arms race between banks, and competing smaller banks, like Metro, don’t have the deepest pockets. It is easy to fall into the trap of copying. You need to be clear about your customer’s wants and needs and develop products and services that will enhance their experience. I’m not sure our customers will be banking in the metaverse in 2030.

SA: Banks have many opportunities to simplify digital functions and use data and artificial intelligence to personalize what customers see in their bank in their pocket. There are so many features in apps today, but the average person only needs access to about three things. We want to make the digital app experience more relevant to our users.

SR: One exciting thing we’re seeing is the shift in how some traditional financial services companies operate in terms of CX. They collaborate more, hire developers, but put them next to the customer service team to learn from that first-hand experience, and there’s a real onboarding. This way, they can react to create a customer-centric, human experience. Additionally, with an estimated 45 million fraudulent text messages sent in the UK last summer alone, security mechanisms need to be effective.

How can financial services operators ensure that trust remains at the heart of their CX solutions?

KR: We’re trying to be more imaginative as a bank and think beyond money. We have started hosting in-person and virtual networking events and workshops and have a financial education program that, for example, explains how to spot online scams and fraud. We also organize a school program that ends with a branch visit to show that these are not intimidating places. These services, which are inexpensive to provide, are designed to better understand, engage and support our customers, to build trust.

SA: Even today, going to a bank branch can be intimidating for many people. We want to bring banking services to our customers and reach deeper into the communities we serve. We’re testing different formats to see where people need us most – in libraries and shopping malls, for example. There is a strong demand for financial education and assistance from banks. We recently offered 400 video appointments and had to close the lines in two hours, with over 1,000 people on the waiting list. Allowing more people to feel in control of their money is
Extremely important.

AP: At HSBC, the customer research team is part of the experiences group. This collaboration is becoming increasingly important and helps to build trust. We need to be more sophisticated in how we contact our customers and how we collect information. Research needs to be done across the continuum to drive the kind of propositions we develop and all the way to the other end in terms of customer lifetime value and service improvement.

AS: If financial services get the CX wrong, people are now quicker to complain online, especially on social media platforms. Operators must therefore be vigilant and react quickly to bad press and negative comments. It’s an opportunity to understand why the customer is upset and fix something that’s broken, but it also helps assure the customer that you’re there for them and listening.

SR: Building great CX on top of the bank is easier than building great CX. Those who commit to human-centric banking and demonstrate a genuine willingness to meet and care for customers in their preferred channels will earn trust and customers for years to come.

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