Traditionally, it was believed that customer experience is the summation of all the customer’s interactions with a bank at various touch points, over time. But, few researchers like Steven Walden have observed that customer experience is the extraction of value from what the touch points mean to the customer i.e., some touch points weigh heavier in the experience than others. It is important to take the time to look at the bank’s own business practices comprehensively through the lens of their customers to understand how they measure up to their customers’ needs and expectations. Does each customer interaction live up to the brand experience that your bank is trying to create? Are you providing a more consistent and relevant customer experience than your competitors are? Which interactions are the most powerful for creating customer loyalty?

Conducting customer-satisfaction surveys is not enough. To better serve your customer base and more effectively acquire new customers, you need to delve into the details of individual interactions to understand the relationship between each customer touch point and the value it delivers to customers. Value may be built through a series of positive experiences, but it is maintained through consistently meeting the needs and expectations of your customers throughout the customer lifecycle—from pre-purchase consideration to post-purchase evaluation.

Why is consistent service delivery a challenge? Mostly, because of the functional silos in which most banks operate. Customers experience your company horizontally, across bank’s boundaries, but most banks approach customer interaction on a functional basis. The typical result? The inability of cross-functional teams to drive holistic change ultimately produces a disjointed experience for your customers.

Touch-point analysis helps uncover powerful customer insights as well as opportunities to improve how well you meet customer-segment needs and wants. Systematically evaluating performance across all customer touch points can lead to better organizational alignment; increased brand perception; and concrete improvements in acquisition, retention, and up-sell and cross-sell efforts.

How to conduct a Touch-Point Assessment ?
Managing your customer experience is an ongoing and evolutionary process that takes time and cross-functional alignment if it is to deliver significant results. As customers’ needs and expectations change over time, the way you know them and meet them must evolve in accordance with those shifts. Customer touch-point management provides a company with a critical baseline from which it can start to evaluate itself through the eyes of its customers and make small improvements to enhance the customer experience. The approach is simple. See your business through the lens of your customers. Although the process is straightforward, executing it well is far more complex. It requires listening to your customers despite receiving feedback that might challenge internal beliefs, and then aligning the organization around changes that will improve the customer experience.
The following outlines an approach taken by a large private Bank in India to assessing and managing customer experience across all your touch points:

Where to start?
Customer touch-point analysis can start with a review of the customer insights you already have and a map of customer interactions to understand where data collection is still needed. The key is to ensure that the baseline assessment not only collects the relevant information on customers’ needs and expectations at every stage in the customer lifecycle but also seeks to objectively measure how well each interaction adds to or subtracts from brand value. Are you delivering a consistent and relevant experience? How does a particular interaction compare with your competitors’?

Know your value drivers!
The next step is to analyze which interactions matter most to customers and what dimensions of those interactions drive value from a customer perspective. Usually, touch points with high volumes of customer interaction and those that can elicit potentially strong emotions in customers (e.g., websites, bank branches, call centers) tend to have the most significant impact on your brand.
Understanding the value drivers, especially by customer/customer segment, will help you target where to begin improving value for your customers. In doing such an analysis, ask yourself: What do my customers value in an experience? Which experiences are enhancing my relationship with my customers? How do these experiences differ by from one customer to another?

Kicking off initiatives( could be technology initiatives/communication exercises) to improve customer experience usually requires the effort and support of several cross-functional teams and the ammunition given to them. The level of buy-in across the organization to deliver a consistent brand experience will make or break your efforts.
While mapping out the correct sequence of initiatives, ask yourself the following: What are the needs of my most-profitable segments? What impact can I deliver in the short term? In the long term? How am I going to align the organization to improve the customer experience? Who do I need buy-in from?

Measure it to control it!
The goal of touch-point analysis is to drive customer value. Some of the key performance indicators to measure improvements in customer experience could be lifetime value of the customer, retention rates, customers’ willingness to recommend your bank to their friends and relatives. This will help you understand how improving touch points affect loyalty, brand equity, and overall profitability of a customer or specific customer segments. The shifts in some of these metrics might be gradual and therefore, they must be monitored over time.

Put the ‘C’ in ‘CEM’
Every bank, whether it starts with small steps or radically shifts its culture to become more customer-centric, should consider customer touch-point analysis and management as a tool to drive increased business value.
The steps necessary to improve customer experience are not rocket science but a conscious analysis of bank’s organizational boundaries and functional implications. Banks would benefit by adopting technology to aid them in this effort of taking a really honest look in the organizational mirror to see the face the customer are actually seeing rather than the they thought their customers were seeing. When conducted the right way, customer touch-point analysis can provide invaluable insights that serve as a catalyst for change and increase customer value. It worked for a large private Bank in India. Will it work for your Bank – tell us, we’d love to know!

– By Madhavi Natukula

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