How Banks of Today Can Build the Customer Experience of Tomorrow (Part 1)

SunTec Research Team

As pointed out in our previous article, the customer experience of the ‘bank of tomorrow’ will be more technology-enabled, customer-centric, purpose-driven, focused on tangible as well as intangible value, cater to evolving customer base, personalized and proactive, invisible, intuitive, immersive, integrated, easy, simple, guiding, and channel agnostic.

Let us draw out a strategy that the banks of today can use to build this customer experience of tomorrow. We have put this strategy in a series of steps so that it is easier for the banks. Think of these steps as competencies that the bank must develop to deliver a great customer experience.

It is important these steps focus on understanding each customer at a much deeper level in line with an overall customer experience of the organization and documenting this understanding using the latest technology, and building a hyper-personalized approach to each customer using this customer information. While doing this, it is important to understand that only technology can help the banks traverse this journey which needs to be supported by a wide ecosystem of partners and a willingness to continuously raise the benchmarks in customer experience.


Let us look at the competencies:

1. Superior customer understanding and a culture of customer obsession

2. Deep knowledge about the profile of each customer

3. A great customer experience vision

4. Comprehensive bible of customer journeys mapped to the lowest detail possible

5. Detailed plan for translating the vision to action, at a strategic, tactical, and operational level

6. Responsibilities listed out across the organization, to deliver a genuinely great customer experience

7. Focus on hyper-personalization

8. Strong technology backbone across the entire banking layers – platform, product and process

9. Automation across the banking ecosystem

10. Comprehensive ecosystem consisting of partners and other players

11. Focused teams aimed at producing an exponential change in delivering a great customer experience

12. Ability to continuously measure, monitor, and manage the customer experience provide and raise the benchmarks in customer experience on a continuous basis

Understand the customer and put the customer at the centre

Customer experience starts with customer obsession. Obsess over the customer. Only then can banks deliver genuinely great customer experience. Customer obsession starts with understanding the customer needs, writing them down, and continuously refining them so that the best product ideas are born. Apple, Starbucks, Zappos – all are a result of this customer obsession.

As a bank, talk to as many customers as possible. Draw out a map that collates their expectations. Understand what they need and where the gaps are. While you do this, always think from the customers viewpoint. Why does a customer like a service or hate a product? Understand the details. Go to the drawing board and revisit these inputs multiple times till you are able to paint a complete portrait of the customer needs.

Make the customer obsession a part of your banks culture. We have seen many technology companies emphasizing on customer experience and customer obsession, but have rarely come across banks talking vehemently about customer obsession. Make it part of the bank’s principles or way of working, but make sure customer obsession is imbibed in the DNA of the bank.

So, as a first step towards building the customer experience for the ‘bank of tomorrow,’ start with customer obsession.

Create the profile of customers

Based on the interactions with different customers and other stakeholders, draw out a profile of the customers. Understand who your customers are and classify these customers into segments that are as narrow as possible. Draw out a portrait of your customers and map them with their needs. Create a unique identity for each segment.

Remember that a 35-year-old American male who has two kids may not fit into the same segment as another 35-year-old American male who also has two kids. To create the most accurate profile, leverage more data points.

Make the customer profile a part of the banks process layer. Only then will the same kind of detail be maintained as new customers are onboarded.

A detailed customer profile will help banks to offer more accurate and context-relevant personalized offerings to its customers, a key in delivering a great customer experience.

Define the customer experience vision

Armed with the customer understanding and the customer profile, define the bank’s customer experience vision. As per a recent study by Oracle, while 91% of organizations wish to be considered as a leader in customer experience, only 37% have started formal initiatives for improving customer experience[1].

There are many ways to define the customer experience vision. Understand what genuinely great customer centric companies do. Think outside the box! Based on your interactions with customers, draw out what customer experience means for each customer segment.


For some banks, this vision may be a huge step forward from where they are; for others, it may be a modest change. It is heartening to see that many banks of today have a customer experience vision. Just be sure that you do not aim too low. And, be ready to revisit this, as often as possible. Who knows when a company like Uber may transform banking?

But the bank should make sure that the customer experience they want to provide, reduces inefficiencies in the whole economic space.

While defining the customer experience vision for the bank, keep the following questions in mind –

1. What is the customer profile that you want?

2. What is the customers expectation of customer experience from the bank? Is it service time, quality of service, or is it something else?

3. What is the current state of the bank vis a vis the customer experience vision that is being dreamt of?

4. How ready is the bank’s ecosystem – employees, customers, partners, regulators, and shareholders – for the change required to move forward towards           customer experience vision?

5. Is the bank’s structure ready enough for this change?

6. Does the bank have the capabilities to push for this change?

Based on the answers, draw out a customer experience vision that each stakeholder in the bank’s ecosystem can resonate with.

Sometimes, customer service is not about the product that the bank offers. It may be beyond that. Look around for stories that leaders in customer experience like Zappos have to share. Zappos has had calls that lasted for more than 10 hours, which was not about any of the products that Zappos offers.

Just look at some of the samples of customer service stories at Zappos that I picked up online[2]

1. Jay purchased his shoes off for his ‘best man’ stint mainly because they were the cheapest. Unfortunately, the courier routed his package to the wrong location and won’t be arriving on the day he’s supposed to wear it. So, he called Zappos about his dilemma and immediately got his issue solved in no time. Not only did Zappos settle the problem by offering overnight a replacement pair of shoes at no cost, he was even upgraded to a VIP account and given a complete refund.

2. Zappos spreads good cheer for Thanksgiving. They teamed up with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to cover the tolls on a particular section of the road from 5-7PM back in November 2011. Massachusetts Department of Transportation CEO and Secretary Richard Davey said they wanted to make the drivers’ travel less stressful due to the holiday. Ain’t that thoughtful?


3. Contrary to accepted call duration metric, Zappos doesn’t hurry its customers just to beat a call time requirement. This particular customer service phone call on December 8, 2012 was not even about a complaint. The Zappos customer service rep took time to have a conversation with the caller about living in the Las Vegas area which clocked in at 10 hours and 29 minutes!

4. No, it is not a bad feedback. Truth is, Sarah was a happy Zappos customer. She emailed Zappos to have his son’s Keen Kids Newport H2 sandals exchanged because one of its straps broke. A prompt reply was sent back to her saying that they will be overnighting her order for free and she doesn’t have to send back the defective pair. When the shoes finally arrived, it was actually the wrong pair. She tried sending it back to Zappos but they refused. Instead, they told her to donate the shoes to charity while they overnight the correct ones to her.

In short, customer experience is about those special moments. Banks should make sure that they cater to these special moments as part of the vision for customer experience.

And make sure everyone stands by this common purpose of customer experience.

In the next part of our Article, we will discuss on the importance of creating a holistic plan for improving customer experience and how technology will act as the lynchpin for delivering great customer experience.


[1] Page 8, Global CX Study

[2] 10 Zappos Stories That Will Change the Way You Look at Customer Service Forever

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