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Expert advice: Taking a human approach to CX

Don’t ignore this trend

Helping brands redesign their CX (customer experiences) to ensure a person-centred approach is Ale Wiecek’s MO. Founder and chief empathy officer at Sqr One Customer experience design agency, she shares her insights and warns against the risks if the trend of embedding empathy and customer experience principles is ignored.

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Improving CX for finance brands: what are the dominant trends you’re seeing?

1. Emphasis is firmly on delivering against the customer experience triangle – success, time, effort

“We’ve learned that people want to engage with brands that know them really well, and who can create an experience that they can be fond of. The next step for brands lies in understanding how the triangle of customer experience – success, time and effort – can be employed. Learning where the triangle can be applied to help customers reduce time spent on purchase decisions, or to provide extra services not initially in their range, that will improve their customers’ lives and save them time and effort.

“This triangle also makes allowances for success to be measured. How quickly someone achieved an outcome can be examined across the customer journey and plotted.

2. The marriage of data and human context will support new services for finance brands

“Customers of financial services brands have a deep desire for brands to respond to their needs and support them through key life moments i.e. buying a house, getting a loan for a new car, having a baby or retiring. Chip and Dan Heath, authors of The Power of Moments refer to this in their book as “The missed moments of retail banking”. The finance brands who embrace individualisation beyond data will gain loyalty and retention while making their customers extremely happy.

Bank of America is one brand who have moved beyond their data and as a result of getting to know specific customer segments – through ethnographic research, contextual interviews, and by appearing in their environment – the brand drew useful insights particularly where 55 – 65-year-old customers were concerned.

“Learnings drawn from conversations with researchers, not data, led to Bank of America establishing a system that rounded up every purchase to the nearest dollar and saved the difference in a specific savings account. This helped customers to save, something that conversations revealed they were struggling to do, so the success rate was higher, the effort they put in was higher, as were the gains made from their small incremental savings over time.”

3. Internal employee experience will be used to embed empathy for customer experience

“In the past, empathy has been viewed as a soft, ‘touchy-feely’ skill and leadership teams haven’t quite embraced it. Yet it is undergoing an evolution. Barclays in the UK has hired an empathy consultant, who is overseeing how the brand can truly be empathetic to their customers from a banking perspective.

Barclays in the UK has hired an empathy consultant, who is overseeing how the brand can truly be empathetic to their customers from a banking perspective.

“Other ways that financial services brands are applying empathy is via the introduction of design-thinking teams into their business. These teams are employing agile methods to research; conduct conversations with customers and ideate key concepts which may solve the problems customers are telling these consultants they have. Brands are then prototyping and testing before launching on a wider scale.

“The mix of creativity and innovation, coupled with a rational thinking approach is leading organisations to see design-thinking as a great match as it provides innovation within service delivery, while building a deep understanding of customers through the exercise of walking in their shoes.”

How can brands address these deficits in CX?

“Customer journey mapping or any tool that can help businesses look holistically at the customer is key. Understanding the touchpoints, the behaviours, the feelings, the thoughts that the customer goes through, trying to make those low points into high points, solve any points of friction that are creating negative feelings for that customer is a good starting point.

“The brands who embrace the marriage of humanity, data and customer insights within their agile project approach, while delivering powerful moments of individualisation will forge a promising path for their brands.”

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Ruth Bailey
Ruth studied journalism via QUT, and from there, the art of storytelling quickly morphed into an ability to develop integrated marketing strategies, with a predominant leaning towards content marketing. Ruth has practised marketing and communications in some form or another for over 13 years, working with software, arts, government, and digital organisations to tell their brand stories and share their work in creative executions.