Hi Alex, Tell us about yourself, your background?
I’m the Chief Strategy Officer at Extractable. We are a digital strategy, data, and design consultancy focused on financial services. I have a long career in banking and strategy. For the past decade I’ve focused on fintech and digital banking. It has been an exciting and frustrating decade in banking. We have such a great opportunity to reimagine the banking customer experience, and yet so many bankers just hunker down or focus on technology alone.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
That might be true in the larger world of digital commerce, but not in banking. For the majority of banks and credit unions, they rely on badly designed and badly interpreted surveys as a source of customer feedback. There aren’t many banks that understand their customer expectations, journeys, and overall experience. The fact that many legacy bankers insist that branches are the holy grail of customer service will tell you that they haven’t a clue.
What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?
Customer is king. That should be the first and only rule. I’ve talked to many banking executives about their strategy. Every single one, without exception, says that their strategy is to provide the best customer experience. Yet when we look at their goals, they are mostly inward looking or bastardizations of ideas like Net Promoter Score. Very few of them are fanatical about their customers. Very few of them understand customer journeys. Most of them have never spent any time with real customers. As a strategist, I believe organizations need to step back deeply understand their customer needs, and then define their business models to address those needs. Banking organizations start with their existing models and then try to build stuff to help customers they don’t understand. Throughout my career, I have heard too many banking executives say that they understand their customers because they are customers themselves.
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
In banking, much attention has been given to fintech startups. Bankers focus on the technology fintech firms deploy to address customer needs. They missed the fact that the real magic from fintech firms is the focus on customer. For example, Simple Bank was started by Josh Reich after he had a series of bad experiences with his bank. The idea came out of an email he sent his eventual co-founder Shamir Karkal that said:
Why is banking so complicated?
Can a bank exist to help people, not confuse them?
What if banks didn’t charge so many ridiculous fees?
What if your bank taught you to feel confident with money?
Josh didn’t say, let’s design a bank that uses the latest coolest technology. He started with the customer needs or in this case the customers frustrations.
What are some of the ways companies can strive to eliminate the CX Gap?
Stop relying on your own intuition about what customers want. Throw away your NPS dashboards. Build a practice to regularly listen to customers about what job they are hiring you to do, not about their “satisfaction with you.” Recently, I talked to an executive who told me that one of their top goals for the year was to roll out a chatbot. When we met with some of their clients, it was clear that the bank wasn’t providing the basic digital banking experiences they were expecting. “I don’t care about a chatbot. How about letting me log in every time I need to log in,” a customer said.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
Most of what I read isn’t related to business. I find that ideas come from other sources. Having said that, the last business book I read, and immediately re-read, was Scramble by Marty Neumeier which is a fun read about the application of Agile and Design Thinking in Strategy.
Alex’s predictions for the future of CX
What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?
In banking, I’m seeing a growing understanding of the value of Design Thinking and Jobs To Be Done, which are methodologies that are focused on the customer experience. Unfortunately, it is not happening quick enough and more widely.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
As you probably can tell, I’m not fond of the traditional CX metrics as they are often misunderstood or misused. Organizations should define what is most important to their clients and build metrics around those activities. There isn’t a silver bullet