Building human and reliable financial experiences; a conversation with Rachel Armstrong

November 8, 2022

Rising prices, the world recovering from a pandemic, and the need for human contact after a long time of isolation are driving factors for today’s financial experiences. Individuals are rethinking their economic strategies, and some people are giving up nice-to-have services that are not urgently needed. For example, 600,000 Netflix subscribers in North America canceled following the price hike in January 2022.

How does customer experience in financial services look in the future? We asked this question to Rachel Armstrong, Globant’s Design Studio Partner in the UK. She has over 20 years of experience helping leading brands develop personalized customer experiences and breakthrough solutions with strategic thinking. 

Here is our conversation:

What do we need to consider today to develop inclusive experiences? How can we build a more inclusive financial world?

Companies must start with customers’ pain points and how they correspond to the product or service they are building. It’s important to mention that inclusivity is not only about the segmentation of your target audience. Today, companies need to think more about the mindset and how it shapes people’s needs. For example, some people in their 30s have already purchased two houses. In contrast, someone in their 40s might have never owned a home. Inclusive experiences go beyond demographics and age. 

Talking to customers of all ages, wealth, locations, and religions are also vital. For instance, Islamic finance runs on a different principle, and its community has different needs regarding interest-driven products. 

Of course, the journey begins at home. If your company isn’t driving inclusivity internally, you won’t be able to build customer experiences that are accessible to all. 

What is the role of optichannel experiences in financial customer experiences?

I believe it’s important to clarify what optichannel, which combines “optimal” and “channel” experiences mean. You have probably heard of omnichannel experiences, which consist of having all channels available so customers can easily hop from one to the other, depending on their preferences. 

Optichannel optimizes the channel depending on an individual’s specific problem or need. For example, if I encounter an issue regarding my credit card, the channel that will provide me with an effective solution is a phone call rather than an email or talking with a chatbot. An optichannel approach aims to support a customer journey based on the channel that best suits their needs. 

In a nutshell, optichannel is less about a choice that I make as an individual and more about the optimal channel at that specific time.  

What is the one thing that makes a difference when building customer journeys in financial services?

Customer journeys are not only about mapping how and where the digital tools will play a role in the user experience. They are also about knowing what the customer is feeling, their frustrations, goals, and expectations. In finances, companies need to be aware that money is closely related to mental health. If someone is suffering from financial constraints, it can affect several parts of their lives, including their emotional balance. 

For instance, some people might not want to talk with a chatbot, especially if they need to discuss how to get a mortgage to buy a house, which is a significant investment. That big decision needs human interaction. 

Money is emotional;  people think about money all the time. I have worked with several banks, and when you speak to people, they check their accounts 2 or 3 times a day. It makes them feel connected with their money. However, if you think about financial companies, their brands are institutional and cold. Banks, in general, are not very approachable. When you walk into a bank, the atmosphere feels tense and, in most cases, misses the human touch. 

The emotional aspect of finances is crucial when banks create marketing strategies. For instance, don’t bombard a user with loan offerings if they just called you because they are worried about their bills. Banks need to offer customers the right services at the right time, not because users can have them but because they need them. 

Another critical point in building effective financial services is to find a balance between establishing a closer relationship with the customer and providing security. In other words, don’t be too much of a friend with customers because they still need you to be professional to advise them on financial and legal matters. 

If you think about it, it is quite complex. Building trust while providing a human touch bearing in mind the emotional side of money, almost requires banks to build a personality, know when and where to use digital tools, and build a more humanized experience.

Financial services: win trust with the right amount of human touch and digitalization

EY’s 2021 NextWave Financial Services Survey showed that consumers aged 65 and over are the only age demographic that trusts traditional banks more than fintechs. What does this mean for financial institutions? How can they rebuild trust and target customers’ needs? Digital transformation is critical in the process. But it is a process that cannot be done only once. It’s an evolution. It helps you understand the future of your technology, customer, and business and how all of that comes together to make that transformation happen.

“Don’t annoy me,” says Doug Brown, president of NCR, is the message consumers send to their banks. This means that reshaping financial customer experiences will involve building a thorough digital strategy while considering the emotional aspect of finances and how the customers’ background plays a role in their relationship with money. 

Visit our Design Studio to learn how we combine quality, design, strategy, and production to address worldwide digital challenges. 

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