Posted July 12, 2016
FinTech Weekly recently interviewed Kevin Bottoms, Global Vice-President, Business Development at TELUS International, about the importance of customer service and experience in financial services and beyond. Customers don’t only need to be acquired, they need to be retained – by building trust.
Hi Kevin, thanks for sharing your experience with us. Briefly explain what you do and why you are an expert in (re)building customer trust, please.
With 25 years of experience in the Business Process Outsourcing and technology enabling industries, I’ve helped some of the world’s top brands, including many financial services companies, exceed their customer experience and business goals through customer care, back-office support, and ITO engagements. As an outsourcing partner, our clients entrust us with their most important resource: their customers. We serve as an extension of their internal operations and are focused on enabling the sustainment of their brand in an outsourced operating model. It’s our heritage to take full responsibility for sustaining the brand experience and to build ongoing trust and loyalty by delivering an exceptional customer interaction.
Why is exceptional customer service especially important in fintech – and would you include fields that face digitization and are on the edge of being disrupted, such as insurance, telco, medicine…?
Customers have higher expectations than ever before and they are expecting companies to leverage all available data to tailor solutions to fit their needs. Customers also have more options. Twenty years ago you were limited by proximity; if you didn’t like the one-size fits all services provided by your financial institution, your only other option was a competitor within a close radius to your home or work. Thanks to the digitalization of these traditional services, the alternative possibilities are now seemingly endless.
For every financial service, there is handful of fintech companies offering a solution available right at your fingertips. The differentiator however, will be cost, transparency and personalized customer service. Fintech companies are filling a need not previously met by traditional financial institutions by offering a more personalized and engaging experience through a wide variety of channels. Being able to provide exceptional customer service not only attracts customers but also builds loyalty. This general sentiment holds true for not only those industries on the edge of disruption, but all businesses in general.
How can fintech companies build customer trust, increase customer acquisition and -retention? Can you outline an exemplary scenario that reflects the perfect UX from advertising to accomplishing first-class customer service?
Product flexibility, personalization and transparency is what will attract customers, but a full understanding of your customer base is what will create trust. Fintech organizations need to get their hands on all the data available to them in order to specifically tailor their offerings to their customers’ needs. It’s that internalized knowledge of your customers that will build trust and ultimately lead to retention.
Millennials, for example, are a tech savvy customer base that are looking for holistic, multi-channel services. They are also the segment of the population known to be more skeptical towards the traditional financial services industry. Creating an exemplary user experience for Millennial customers involves appealing to these sensibilities through advertisements, offering products that are customizable and agile, and delivering frictionless, on-demand customer service. The underlying theme with Millennials is often personalization, which means the perfect user experience for one customer may not apply to the next. However, that very understanding better equips fintech companies to create the ideal customer journey.
What do you believe are the biggest mistakes fintech companies and start-ups make at the moment?
One of the biggest challenges any new and innovative marketplace has when going after a segment of the traditional customer base is sustainment. There are some fintech companies that would give you the perception that it’s a one-and-done deal, develop an innovative service idea and launch it. But there needs to be equal weight not only on the entrance into the market but also on the sustainment of the brand implications drawn from the customer and how a company will continue to drive the experience beyond the mobile app or online site.
It’s easy to understand why customer service is often overlooked– establishing a support ecosystem is generally not strategic until demand exceeds an organization’s ability to manage the human capital required to achieve optimal experience. This isn’t a challenge unique to fintech but with any organization that is delivering innovation into a marketplace. However, creating a customer experience that sustains and elevates the brand throughout the customer lifecycle is critical to achieving long-term success. As fintech organizations determine what is their core competency and business focus, they should seek an outsourcing partner for customer support, such as TELUS International, to ensure their brand is sustained and the needs of their customers are met.
Is an outdated or inconvenient UX a knockout-criterion for services and products when it comes to digital natives/Millennials?
I would tend to agree. After all, Millennials are looking for affordability, convenience and trust, which is why fintech companies are often so appealing to this demographic. Fintech’s are agile – unburdened by expensive branch and legacy systems – and are laser-focused in their offerings. They’ve managed to make complex financial services such as stock trading or refinancing loans, simple and accessible. For companies continuing to offer an outdated or inconvenient product or service, it’s only a matter of time before an innovative competitor offers a more convenient and appealing approach.
Anything else, remarks, ideas?
Brand sustainment through innovative customer support and customer experience tends to be viewed as an expendable conversation when in actuality, it should be at the forefront of the discussion prior to going to market. As a fintech start-up gets ready to launch new applications that offer a certain level of accessibility and transparency to the customer, they need to be proactive in determining how they are going to support that customer in a manner that sustains that relationship and also provides an opportunity for growth.