In the Age of AI, where competition is fierce and customer expectations are higher than ever, delivering a positive customer experience has become a top priority for businesses across industries. Shep Hyken, the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations and an authority on customer service and experience, joined James Robert Lay on the Banking on Digital Growth Podcast to share his valuable insights on what makes for a remarkable customer experience in the digital world.

The top 3 insights from this article:

  • The evolution of "experience"
  • Digital transformation & its balance with human interaction:
  • Customer-centricity as the driving force

The Shifting Definition of Customer Experience

Shep emphasizes that the term "experience" has evolved far beyond just customer service. It now encompasses every interaction and touchpoint a customer has with a brand, from the moment they consider doing business. This definition includes both human-to-human interactions and digital touchpoints, which can often overlap with customer service.

Related Content: Setting the Benchmark for the Customer Experience in Finance

Furthermore, Shep believes that customer service should not be considered as just another department that handles problems. Instead, it should be established as a philosophy and culture that defines how a company wants to treat its customers, members, or clients.

By adopting this mindset, companies can focus on what truly matters: building trust and delivering value to the customer.

The Transformative Power of Digital Experiences

One of the most significant transformations in customer experience has been the shift towards digital experiences, especially in the financial industry.

Digital experiences have brought immense convenience to customers, enabling them to perform simple tasks online without the need for phone calls or physical visits. This level of convenience is a key factor in enhancing the overall customer experience.

Related Content: Shifting the Digital Customer Service Experience 

Shep also highlights how technologies like chatbots and AI have further improved the digital experience by providing precise and timely answers to customer inquiries.

By automating predictable elements of customer interactions, companies can focus on providing exceptional human-to-human interactions and customer support.

However, it is important to note that while AI has great potential in enhancing customer experiences, there is still a learning curve and uncertainty around its optimal utilization.

Balancing Technology with Human-to-Human Interactions

Although technology plays a crucial role in delivering seamless and integrated customer experiences, Shep stresses that there is no substitute for human-to-human relationship building.

He uses Amazon as an example of a company that has successfully automated and digitized the customer experience. However, he also acknowledges that third-party carriers can sometimes be a roadblock to a seamless experience, as customers tend to blame the company they purchased from rather than the carrier in case of delivery issues.

Related Content: The Human-Digital Connection: Why It Should Matter to Financial Brands 

Moreover, while many financial institutions have the potential to create fully digital customer experiences, there may still be instances where human interaction is necessary. Shep mentions Evergreen as a company that offers online banking but ensures customers can speak with someone if needed, despite the absence of physical branch visits. This highlights the importance of striking the right balance between technology-led experiences and the human element.

Prioritizing the Customer-Centric Mindset at Your Bank or Credit Union

Shep underscores the importance of adopting a customer-centric mindset for business success. Companies need to focus on making it easy for customers to do business with them, striving to create frictionless experiences across all touchpoints. Providing customers with the option to choose their preferred communication channel is crucial, as it allows for a personalized experience.

Related Content: The Effortless Experience: Exceeding Your Customer’s Expectations

Furthermore, technology can be leveraged to enhance the customer experience, but the human element must not be neglected. Customers should have a consistent experience, regardless of the channel they use. Shep recommends that financial brands focus on building relationships and having conversations with customers, rather than merely focusing on transactions.

Differentiation and Continuous Improvement for Financial Brands

Shep proposes a set of questions to guide leaders in differentiating their brand from competitors:

  • Why does a customer choose to do business with us?
  • What is the competitor doing that gets them customers that we're not getting?
  • What are they doing that we don't do but could be doing?

He advises against simply copying competitors and encourages finding a unique differentiating factor that can be executed better or in a unique way to stand out.

Additionally, understanding the customer's perspective and experience is crucial in delivering exceptional experiences. Conducting a competitive analysis can help identify areas of differentiation, and asking key questions about customer expectations and frustrations can provide valuable insights.

Transforming the Mindset for Future Growth

To make customer experience a driving force for future growth, Shep Hyken suggests key mindset shifts within organizations. These include:

  1. Defining the desired customer experience in a simple and memorable way.
  2. Communicating the defined experience to all employees.
  3. Training employees to understand and fulfill their role in delivering the desired experience.
  4. Demonstrating desired behaviors from leadership to frontline staff.
  5. Addressing any misalignment and coaching or reassigning employees as needed.
  6. Recognizing and celebrating employees for their efforts in delivering a great customer experience.

These steps, accompanied by constant reinforcement and communication, help embed a customer-centric mindset in the organizational culture.

Creating a positive and seamless customer experience is of utmost importance in today's digital world.

By embracing a customer-centric mindset and leveraging technology to enhance experiences, businesses can differentiate themselves from competitors and build lasting customer relationships.

Shep's insights serve as a valuable guide for leaders looking to prioritize and optimize customer experiences to drive business growth.

For more about financial transformation, reach out to James Robert Lay at the Digital Growth Institute.