By Perry Gale, VP EMEA at Cyara
From rising interest rates, to the cost-of-living crisis and the ongoing recession, the UK financial market —and its customers—took quite the hit in 2022. With these issues continuing into 2023, financial service institutions (FSIs) must prepare for a higher quantity of more complex enquiries from vulnerable and concerned customers.
Encouragingly, reports suggest that the industry has the capability to address these concerns relatively well. According to the UK Institute of Customer Service, the financial services sector saw a slight increase in customer satisfaction ratings in the first half of 2022. With banks, building societies and the insurance sector all seeing an uplift in customer satisfaction, it’s clear that the industry is taking customer centricity seriously.
Research from McKinsey highlights the benefits of taking such a customer centric approach, explaining that organisations “that effectively organise and manage customer experience can realise a 20 percent improvement in customer satisfaction, a 15 percent increase in sales conversion, a 30 percent lower cost-to-serve, and a 30 percent increase in employee engagement.”
While these figures illustrate that there is a clear business case for investing time and resources in optimising the customer experience (CX), errors and glitches continue to occur. For instance, several UK high street banks have suffered from technical issues with their online systems this year, leaving users unable to log into their accounts or pay their bills online. Hardly the smooth and risk-free journey customers demand and expect.
Furthermore, increasing market competition means that any reduction in service levels could mean organisations risk losing customers altogether. To fend off this competition and to meet the changing needs of their users, financial institutions will need to ensure they provide an exceptional CX in the year ahead.
Time to stop using customers as crash test dummies
The biggest CX risk FSIs need to avoid is using their highly valuable customers as “crash-test dummies” for their digital services. With service outages still relatively common, there’s a suggestion that FSIs are failing to “walk in the shoes” of their customers. Yet, if they do not experience the journey first hand, they will not be able to identify or rectify any hurdles.
FSIs must ensure they are adequately testing new services before launching them to the public, as well as continuously checking that they work as expected once live. FSIs should implement robust testing procedures, quality assurance (QA), and monitoring of all CX technologies in order to ensure they deliver a positive and flawless customer experience and that their services work as they are intended to. Organisations shouldn’t wait for customers to hit a hurdle in their journey before implementing testing; it should be a foundational part of their CX infrastructure.
Testing as the key to boosting the customer experience
Key to success is continuous testing – an iterative and collaborative methodology that employs automation to help organisations test all the way through the lifecycle of a service or feature, rather than just at the end of development.
This approach moves away from the traditional, manual testing approach which often results in a stop-start cycle and inevitably causes project delays. Meanwhile, an automated approach reduces both manual work and the risk of human error as the organisation gains momentum and moves faster in a continuous testing cycle. Overall, a continuous testing approach maximises efficiency, reduces costs, and improves CX quality – whilst also freeing up QA and development teams to deliver CX improvements faster; proactively uncover issues to be fixed before they compound; and improve testing coverage and quality to ensure the entire CX infrastructure works seamlessly at scale.
The following three tactics are a good place for FSIs to start their testing journey:
- Regression testing – this is used to check if any defects are present or have been reintroduced after a change has been made to a system. It tests to see if your system has ‘regressed’ or returned to a less developed state after a change and if it has affected the customer experience in the process. Regression tests should be run whenever changes are made and should be run on a regular basis.
- Stress testing or endurance testing – this pushes a system to its limits in order to determine if it will crash under heavy load conditions. It also assesses how quickly an application can recover from the strain.
- Active monitoring – this allows organisations to experience specific customer journeys in the same way as a customer, for example, by calling into an IVR or transitioning to a live agent. By experiencing the journey from the customer’s perspective, organisations can gain valuable insights on the quality of interactions.
By implementing a robust testing strategy, using methods such as these, businesses can catch and fix defects early in the development process to avoid failures that adversely affect customers.
De-risking the customer journey
In a market where CX is a key differentiator, FSIs must retain their focus on customer centricity, rather than risk customers voting with their feet. With customers still experiencing avoidable errors from their financial providers, FSIs must implement automated, continuous testing to anticipate any potential roadblocks in the customer journey and remedy them before they become a problem. With the stakes high, FSIs need to take the risk out of the customer journey and prioritise testing in 2023, particularly if they are to survive the testing times to come within the sector.