Are you doing enough to help customers manage their accounts?

With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) raising concerns that banking customers in the US “continue to experience problems managing their accounts”, it seems that many financial institutions could benefit from refocusing their efforts on delivering the services people want.

If complaints and customer dissatisfaction are becoming an issue for your business, it’s time to gain a clear understanding of what is causing these problems and how to solve them.

The extent of the problem

As of August 1st 2016, the CPFB, which was established in July 2011 as one of the US government’s legislative responses to the 2007-08 financial crisis, had handled approximately 954,400 complaints across all consumer banking products. About 94,200 of these issues related specifically to bank accounts or service.

One of the most common causes of complaints is overdrafts occurring because of confusion about the availability of funds customers have deposited or were attempting to deposit. Consumers have also been frustrated by bank check-holding policies that have stopped them from accessing much-needed funds.

Banking customers have also complained about their banks’ error resolution procedures and prolonged response times following problems related to unauthorized transactions and fraud.

Richard Cordray, director of the CFPB, said: “Deposit accounts are an essential component of millions of consumers’ financial lives. We are concerned that consumers continue to face difficulties accessing and managing this cornerstone financial tool. Consumers who are eligible for a deposit account should be able to get one and use it effectively.”

Listening to your customers and taking action

In order to deliver the best possible consumer experience – which will help you to strengthen brand loyalty and reduce customer turnover – there are many things you need to do well, but one of the most important of all is listening to your customers. When it comes to designing and implementing a strategy for your business, rather than looking inwards or obsessing over the latest industry trends, let your customers tell you what they want and need.

A recent survey by the Wall Street Journal, of more than 2,100 of the newspaper’s readers throughout the US and as far afield as India and the Netherlands, found that one of the biggest priorities for retail banking customers today is easy access to their provider and their accounts. The most common responses to the question, ‘What is important to you in a bank?’ were online and mobile functionality (80 per cent), low or no fees (67 per cent), safety (41 per cent) and branch locations (35 per cent).

One respondent, Aleksey Dubrovensky of Louisville, Kentucky, said: “I want a bank to be convenient, secure, and serve me well. That means providing me the means to access my finances quickly and easily so that I don’t have to plan my day around the bank.”

If you want to give your customers maximum accessibility to banking services through a choice of personal, assisted and self-service channels, one strategy that can deliver significant benefits is branch transformation. Enhancing your branch network with new interactive services, self-service kiosks and software solutions, for example, can help you to improve security, reduce queues and open up new revenue streams.

It’s important to remember that these sorts of initiatives need to be supported by efficient channel management. Regardless of whether more and more people are completing transactions online or via mobile, with fewer customers coming into branches for everyday banking, the same quality of service should be available to all. 

Without effective channel management and the necessary investment in back-office systems and software to back up your consumer-facing assets, you’re likely to miss out on the full potential of branch transformation for improving your customer experience and reducing the risk of complaints.

Written by Alastair Hogben

Alastair Hogben

Alastair Hogben is a Senior Software Marketing Manager, responsible for the marketing of NCR’s Financial Services enterprise software portfolio with a specific focus on CxBanking and enterprise-enabled applications.

Read more articles from Alastair Hogben