3 Ways Financial Services Brands Can Increase Customer Loyalty

It’s no secret that one of the keys to brand loyalty is to truly understand your customers. Since the pandemic hit, this has become even more important. Customer empathy – the ability to understand and act on your customers – helps deliver meaningful experiences and has become a competitive differentiator in these extremely challenging times.

National lockdowns have fundamentally changed the way organizations deliver experiences to their customers, and customer loyalty has been significantly affected. Brands in all industries are now trying to establish or rebuild relationships with their customers. And the best way to do that is through empathy-driven experiences.

Why the bank must improve its customer relationship

There is a lot of potential to improve empathy-driven experiences in banking. Although technology has changed the types of interactions customers have with their banks, this convenience can come at the expense of banks’ ability to get to know their customers in a more human way.

Our UK Banking Empathy Experience Index (EXi) found that 34% of traditional bank customers had very poor or poor empathy experiences with their banks. Fintechs elicit 12% more positive emotions than traditional banks but, despite this, 30% of fintech customer experiences were still rated as very bad or bad.

So how do you know if you’re doing a good job delivering exceptional customer experiences? Since empathy is intangible, this can be difficult. That’s why we created The EXi, to provide a concrete benchmark of how companies perform in delivering empathy-driven experiences.

The report contains a wide range of insights and findings, but it contains three key recommendations for how businesses can improve their empathy-driven experiences to maximize customer loyalty:

1. Create positive digital experiences

The future of banking may be digital, but customers don’t want to give up the feeling of cultivating a personal connection to their bank. Many customers miss walking into a physical branch and speaking to an employee who knows them. This sense of community and belonging creates a unique trust that banks need to build into their digital experiences.

Our report revealed that NatWest achieves this by understanding the needs of its customers at specific times. NatWest recognizes that its customers may encounter financial difficulties and has built experiences to help them; this includes training employees to understand the signs of financial hardship, as well as talking to customers and recommending services that can help them. Most of these referrals are made outside of bank branches. The positive response to this showed that if you have your customers’ best interests at heart, they will return it to you with loyalty.

2. Feed your employees

A critical, yet often overlooked, aspect of the customer experience is its inherent connection to the employee experience. Happy employees lead to happy customers, and it’s essential for traditional banks and fintechs to build their customer journey maps, they also map employee experiences.

It’s important that your employees care about their customers because it’s easy to spot when they’re not. Demonstrating the importance of the work done by your team and making sure they feel like an important part of the process can have a positive effect on the customer experience. Try to share the highlights of a great customer experience company-wide, showing the amazing things your employees do for your customers.

3. Be your customer’s exceptional experience

With customer expectations higher than ever, brands need to be aware that they are competing with every customer’s latest exceptional experience, not just that of direct competitors. Look outside your industry to identify the best experiences customers receive elsewhere and try to integrate them into your business. Make sure these experiences are co-created with customers and aligned with your brand, but continually seek out best practices from other industries as a source of innovation.

Regardless of industry or organization, empathy-based experiences are increasingly the gold standard by which your customers hold you. To stay competitive and build loyalty, it’s essential that your business delivers meaningful and memorable experiences to your customers.

UserTesting empowers every organization to deliver the best customer experience through human insight. Learn more about the scores of UK banks and fintechs in the full EXi report here.

Image credit: Farknot_Architect via Getty Images

Joseph P. Harris