Change management in financial services: Why customer experience should be a top priority

Find out why a customer-centric approach to change management is vital for your digital enablement journey — and what this looks like in practice. 

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Change management in financial services: Why customer experience should be a top priority


Find out why a customer-centric approach to change management is vital for your digital enablement journey — and what this looks like in practice. 

Change management in financial services: Why customer experience should be a top priority

Successful digital enablement projects are associated with significant top-line benefits for FSIs. Between 2018 and 2022, digital leaders achieved average annual total shareholder returns of 8.1 percent, compared with just 4.9 percent for those struggling to digitize.

However, many organizations are still failing to secure these benefits. Well over a third of banking transformation leaders say their transformations have underperformed against KPIs, according to research by Ernst & Young. 

Effective change management is critical in avoiding this all-too-common scenario. By translating your digital goals into a concrete and carefully designed implementation process, change management can help keep your digital enablement project on track. 

But change management also has an external aspect. Yes, your internal teams need support and guidance in adapting to new processes. But the likelihood is that your customers need to be helped along the path to adoption, too. 

Read on to find out why a customer-centric approach to change management is vital for your digital enablement journey — and what this looks like in practice. 

Why change management is essential for your customer experience 

Banks that excel in customer service are also leaders in increasing growth and decreasing costs, according to research by McKinsey

But despite these benefits, digital enablement projects can fail to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Only four percent of banks say their digital customer service is excellent, while 44 percent say it’s just average. 

Let’s consider some of the key challenges that are contributing to these disappointing statistics: 

Innovations are emerging faster than ever

As the pace of technological advancement quickens, striving to be a first mover can put an undue burden on your customers. Yes, new developments in predictive analytics and generative AI can benefit your customers. But if your customer journeys change frequently or your user testing process isn’t up to scratch, the result will be needless disruption. 

Different demographics have different needs

While 84 percent of Millennials are comfortable receiving AI-powered financial advice, this drops to just 35 percent for Boomers. The latter, in turn, are far more concerned about security in online transactions. Navigating these demands and ensuring cross-generational adoption requires a delicate balancing act. 

Traditional touch points remain valuable

While it is widely understood that older customers continue to prioritize face-to-face interactions, they are not alone in seeing the benefits of a local branch. Two-thirds of customers see local branches as symbols of stability and availability — a virtually uniform statistic across age brackets. As a result, boosting your digital services at the expense of more traditional touchpoints may prove a false economy. 

Each issue points to a shared problem: customer needs are neither static nor uniform. As a result, it’s not easy to ensure customers will truly value your new digital offerings. 

And if they don’t, it won’t matter how innovative they are or how difficult they were to implement — you won’t see the adoption you’re hoping for. 

To avoid this, you need to bring a customer-centric approach to your change management strategy. Here’s how: 

5 key steps to a customer-centric change management strategy 

1. Establish a cross-functional steering committee 

“Having a single steering committee across the entire enterprise, not just within a line of business or a function, is very important. This breaks down the issue that most institutions are faced with: communication. It’s not telling your peers what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it.” 
— Bruce Schilder, FinTech and Open Banking expert 

Setting clear objectives for your enablement efforts is fundamental to success. But, these objectives must be coordinated across your organization to be effective. 

Without an integrated approach, your objectives can fail to focus on your customer experience. As a result, your transformation efforts may deliver products or services that your customers aren’t seeking. 

By establishing a cross-functional steering committee, you can ensure that customer service and sales team input is built into your digital enablement journey from the outset. 

This will help you develop a change management strategy that puts customer needs first. 

2. Choose customer-focused KPIs 

How do you define success for your digital enablement project? 

Of course, measuring ROI is essential. But while crucial revenue and growth metrics are important, they’re only a partial picture — and potentially a misleading one. Expanding your product offerings may lead to a spike in customer acquisitions, but if your customer experience falls short, this likely won’t last. 

To tackle this, ensure you have customer-focused KPIs alongside revenue-focused ones. NPS scores are useful here but should be combined with other indicators for a fuller insight. For instance, you could look at abandoned application rates or complaint escalations to track more specific impacts on customer journeys. 

3. Enhance your high-touch processes 

It can be tempting to adopt a “rip and replace” model when trying to deliver digital transformations at pace. But as we’ve seen above, expanding your digital capabilities at the expense of branch-based services may prove costly. 

The solution is to move beyond the binary of digital and in-person experiences. Instead, look for ways that the former can enhance and amplify the latter rather than replacing them. 

Generative AI offers a great example. Yes, generative AI can power next-generation chatbot services that provide more complex financial advice. But it can also support human-centered interactions rather than replacing them. 

For instance, by providing real-time question prompts or a personalized list of relevant services, generative AI could help customer-facing teams deliver deeper and more engaging experiences. 

4. Fail fast 

Customers may need support adapting to new journeys or adopting new products and services. But if this support shows limited results, you should be prepared to pivot your digitization strategy as necessary. 

Ultimately, if aspects of your digital enablement require extensive efforts to drive adoption, this indicates a more fundamental issue. It may be the wrong product at the wrong time, or it may be a service design problem. 

Either way, it’s better to go back to the drawing board than to keep pushing forward. Fail fast, adapt, and try a new strategy. Your customers will thank you for it. 

5. Don’t forget your employee experience 

“When you have a team that is happy and engaged, they’re bringing their best to the end user. Richard Branson says happy employees equals happy customers, which is simple but true. But to achieve that is very complex.“
— Kai Chu, Director of Service Design at Modes 

Finally, it’s vital to remember that your employee experience and customer experience are deeply intertwined. This is especially true in the context of a digital enablement. 

On the one hand, this is a practical question. If your teams aren’t totally conversant with your new systems and processes, they’ll likely struggle to implement them effectively. And that means your customers won’t see the real benefits. 

But it’s also about communicating value. If your employees have a clear sense of the purpose behind your digital transformation, they can become the advocates you need to extend adoption. 

And with employee support for organizational change dropping from 74 percent to 38 percent between 2016 and 2022, this advocacy isn’t something you can take for granted. 

Build a winning change management strategy with Modes 

Extending your change management strategy to include your customers is vital to the success of your digital transformation. It can help you negotiate customers’ complex and sometimes conflicting expectations and avoid key success metrics falling by the wayside. 

But, designing a customer-centric change management strategy is no simple task. It requires a cross-functional approach that extends from senior leadership to delivery teams — and that loops your customers in, too. 

Modes has helped countless FSIs to navigate the complexities of digital enablement projects. By acting as true partners, we help co-create new digital experiences that will delight your customers — and keep your employees on board every step of the way. 

Connect with us today to find out how we can support your digital enablement efforts.

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