Measuring Customer Satisfaction Needs to Evolve in the Digital Context

Developing explainable AI models is crucial for maintaining trust and accountability, says Dr Jelena Janjusevic. AI models, which are seen as "black boxes," lack transparency, which is a big challenge in banking, where decisions must be explained to customers and regulators.

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    Customer experience is more critical than ever, owing to today’s rapidly changing financial landscape. Banks can no longer rely solely on traditional brick-and-mortar interactions to build strong client relationships. 

    Martechvibe spoke with Dr Jelena Janjusevic, SFHEA, Academic Head of Accountancy Economics and Finance, Global Director of Studies in Finance at Heriot-Watt, as she explores the key factors driving the evolution of customer experience in banking.

    Excerpts from the interview;

    What key factors contribute to a positive client experience in the banking industry, and how has this changed over the years?

    The banking industry has significantly evolved what constitutes a positive client experience. Historically, factors such as the personal relationship with bank staff, the availability of a broad range of financial products, and the convenience of physical branches were paramount. However, with the digital revolution, key factors now include:

    • Digital Convenience – the ability to access banking services anytime, anywhere via mobile apps and online banking platforms. This includes seamless online transactions, digital account management, and mobile check deposits.
    • Personalisation – leveraging data analytics to offer personalised banking advice, products, and services tailored to individual customer needs.
    • Security and Trust   ensuring robust cybersecurity measures to protect financial data alongside transparent communication regarding how customer data is used and stored.
    • Speed and Efficiency  fast processing of transactions, loan approvals, and customer inquiries with minimal bureaucracy.
    • Multichannel Support  Offering consistent and effective customer support across various channels, including chatbots, social media, phone, and in-person interactions.

    Over the years, the emphasis has shifted towards integrating technology to enhance convenience, personalisation, and security, reflecting the broader digital transformation in society.

    Do we need to evolve how we measure customer satisfaction – what would you add?

    Measuring customer satisfaction in the banking sector needs to evolve to capture the nuances of the digital age. Traditional measures like surveys and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) remain valuable but should be complemented with several other elements. First, I would like to point out digital engagement metrics, which allow banks to analyse usage data from banking apps and websites to understand how customers interact with digital services and identify friction points. 

    Social listening is very important, as it includes monitoring social media and online forums for customer feedback and sentiment analysis to gather unsolicited opinions about the banking experience. Many banks are measuring Customer Effort Score (CES) related to the ease with which customers can complete their desired actions, reflecting the importance of convenience and efficiency in the digital experience.

    It would be good to relate some customer experience metrics with profitability ratios and see the correlation. I am sure both are very much correlated, and customer satisfaction impacts a bank’s financial success. 

    Can you tell us about one banking brand you believe is a leader and why?

    One exemplary banking brand that stands out is DBS Bank from Singapore. DBS has been recognised as the World’s Best Digital Bank and has set a high standard for technological innovation and customer-centric services. Key reasons include:

    • Innovative Digital Solutions –  DBS has pioneered digital banking solutions that simplify and enhance customer experiences, such as Digibank, a mobile-first initiative in Singapore.
    • Sustainability and Social Responsibility – DBS is committed to sustainable banking practices and investing in social enterprises that align with customer values, especially among younger demographics.
    • Customer-centric Culture – DBS focuses on understanding and meeting customer needs, employing agile methodologies, and fostering a culture of innovation across the organisation.

    In the UAE, several banks stand out for their commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction. Emirates NBD leads digital innovation, offering comprehensive digital banking solutions like online and mobile banking and chatbots for enhanced customer service.

    Moreover, it emphasises sustainability and social responsibility, adhering to ESG principles and strengthening its appeal to socially conscious customers. First, Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) leads with tailored digital experiences, while Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) and Mashreq Bank excel in user-friendly online and mobile platforms. Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) offers Sharia-compliant products with modern digital solutions, and RAKBANK focuses on personalised services and financial inclusion.

    Across these institutions, a common thread is the integration of advanced technology, emphasis on accessibility, and dedication to sustainability and social responsibility, highlighting the UAE banking sector’s forward-thinking approach.

    However, addressing the challenges of using AI, particularly within the context of the banking industry, involves understanding a wide array of factors. These challenges can impact not only the operational aspects of the banks but also their customer engagement, security protocols, and compliance with regulations. 

    AI systems require vast amounts of data to learn and make decisions. This poses significant data privacy and security risks, especially for banks that handle sensitive financial information. Ensuring the protection of customer data against breaches is a paramount challenge.

    Many AI models, especially those based on deep learning, are often seen as “black boxes” due to their complexity. This lack of transparency can be a challenge in banking, where decisions need to be explainable to customers and regulators. Developing explainable AI models is crucial for maintaining trust and accountability.

    Moreover, the banking sector is heavily regulated. Ensuring that AI systems comply with existing and new regulations is a continuous challenge. Banks must navigate a complex landscape of financial regulations while innovating with AI, requiring a delicate balance between compliance and advancement.

    There is a significant skill gap in the market regarding AI expertise. Banks often need help finding and retaining talent capable of developing and managing AI solutions. This necessitates ongoing training and collaboration with academic institutions and technology partners.

    How can banking brands benchmark themselves to global CX leaders?

    Banking brands can benchmark themselves against global customer experience (CX) leaders by:

    • Studying and implementing best practices in digital transformation, customer service, and personalisation from leading banks worldwide.
    • Continuously investing in cutting-edge technology to enhance the digital banking experience, including AI, blockchain, and data analytics.
    • Focusing on Employee Experience (EX) recognising that positive employee experiences translate into better customer service and adopting strategies to engage and empower bank staff.
    • Regularly measuring customer satisfaction and engagement through advanced metrics and being agile in adapting strategies based on feedback and emerging trends.

    Also Recommended: Navigating the Journey to Exceptional Customer Experience

    How can academic institutions be more inclusive, and how can that help create a new breed of professionals?

    Academic institutions can significantly enhance inclusivity in the finance and banking industry’s approach to customer experience and satisfaction by embedding these principles into their educational programs.

    By integrating courses that emphasise diversity, equity, and inclusion within the context of finance and banking, institutions can prepare graduates who are not only technically skilled but also deeply aware of the importance of inclusive practices in catering to a diverse customer base.

    This includes understanding the unique financial needs and preferences of different demographic groups, enabling future professionals to design and implement banking services that are accessible and appealing to everyone.

    Inclusivity in education also extends to teaching future financial professionals about the importance of accessible digital banking solutions, personalised customer service that respects cultural nuances, and ethical banking practices considering the socio-economic impact on various communities.

    By instilling these values in students, academic institutions can help create a new breed of finance professionals equipped to drive customer satisfaction through a more empathetic, inclusive approach to banking services.

    Furthermore, through partnerships with financial institutions for internships and cooperative education programs, students can gain real-world experience applying these inclusive principles. This benefits the students’ career readiness and provides financial institutions access to emerging talent aligned with the industry’s evolving focus on enhancing customer experience through inclusivity and diversity.


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