September 28, 2017 | Jason Veenker

Predicting your customers’ future expectations: 3 key ingredients for banks

Retail Banks

A view of the future isn’t always easily understood, and is even harder to plan for. For instance 16 years ago we were supposed to visit Saturn. Stanley Kubrick’s ground-breaking 2001: Space Odyssey transported us to a future vision of what space travel could be, and what it meant for us as a society. Between pioneering special effects and ambiguous imagery, combined with difficult concepts about the future of mankind — including AI, extraterrestrial life, and evolution —  the movie left me utterly confused.

In many ways, the same is true for retail banks trying to understand the future expectations of consumers. Will mobile payments ever take off? How important are physical bank branches to millennials? And how do I respond to blockchain — or should I? Fortunately, there is a way banks today can take a measured approach to understanding future expectations while avoiding utter confusion. It involves three key ingredients: trust, innovation, and listening.

In this post, we examine trust.

Stephen Covey once remarked: “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” I’ve written previously about how trust is key for banks to win on customer experience (CX) today. However, it is also vital to gaining forward-looking insights into what customers want from you in the future.

Trust does two things to help learn about future expectations:

First, it sends a message to your customers that you have their best interests in mind, including safeguarding their data. Second, it orients your internal culture towards one of building customer advocacy.

Here are three specific ways to begin building trust into your banking CX program:

Build a customer-centric culture

Whatever it takes, get your employees to start asking what your customers think. Start challenging them to ask how a customer would react to any changes to various processes. Keep an empty chair for the customer at every meeting. Make this a habit. Why? As a recent Accenture report on how to jumpstart a customer-centric approach explains, “Trust can open new opportunities to achieve sustainable economic growth. Businesses are banking on the opportunities afforded by digital technologies and new forms of customer engagement.”

Structure and operationalize the trust culture

Intimately tied to building trust is operationalizing the customer-centric culture. For this you need processes and governance in place to support, foster, and grow. Naturally, C-Suite leadership, reporting structures, cross functional leadership, and vision are the key ingredients. McKinsey highlights specific steps to take, including making CX a CEO priority, senior leadership modeling customer-centric behavior, and promoting cross-functional collaboration via targets and metrics.

Retail banks must deliver on that trust

Finally, now it’s time to deliver on that trust — everywhere. This means being able to get a baseline measurement of how well you’re delivering against customer expectations in the channels and touchpoints where you engage them. Measure everywhere, know their expectations, and prioritize the tactical improvements to deliver on what you promised. We did in-depth research with our own banking clients to uncover how best to achieve this via a recent retail banking ebook, which lays out five steps for how to best achieve that delivery effectively.

Certainly, highlighting steps to help orient retail banks towards anticipating customer needs is far easier than doing it. It’ll take smart executives willing to challenge “the way we’ve always done it” to make a difference. And engaging reliable and proven partners in this type of transformation is critical.

But with the right culture, structure, and delivery, building trust is the first step to success for banks to know the future. And we won’t end up as confused as attempting to understand a trip to Saturn.

Stay tuned for the second part of this series where we challenge banks’ traditional thinking about the need for innovation – it may not be what you think it is. And for more banking customer experience insights, download the latest ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): Banking Report.

Part 1: Trust — Predicting your customers’ future expectations: 3 key ingredients for banks 

Part 2: Innovation Why banks need innovation to know future consumer expectations 

Part 3: Listening Coming Soon!

About the Author

Jason Veenker is a passionate advocate for customer experience measurement and serves as a trusted adviser for improving financial customer experiences with ForeSee. He brings over 13 years of partnering with Fortune 500 organizations to help maximize their technology investments. Prior to ForeSee, Jason supported organizations with their strategic business and technology decisions, most recently with Gartner. He earned both his BS in Marketing and MBA through Azusa Pacific University.

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