Technology is reshaping the way businesses and customers interact, making it more seamless and intuitive, customer experience (CX) is more than an interface.

“It’s alarmingly easy and all too common for large organisations to lose sight of what their customer wants,” ANZ Institutional Bank’s Head of Wholesale Digital, Leigh Mahoney said at J.P. Morgan’s Asia Pacific Banking Forum. 

“Over time, processes evolve in a piecemeal fashion, and layers are added that move employees further away from customers. Without discipline and focus, you risk being replaced by someone that can do a better job at meeting your customer’s needs.”

That’s not to say that Australia’s banks are not among the world’s best when it comes to their use of technology. Rather, it’s a reflection of the enormous cultural challenge of innovating within a large organisation.

The demands of consumers are still rising with comparisons made across categories rather than within them. They expect seamless customer experiences such as those offered by Amazon or Netflix, whether they’re dealing with a traditional retailer or a superannuation fund. 

The challenge is enormous. A recent survey of 5,000 adults across five countries including Australia found a disconnect between the advances organisations think they are making to improve the customer experience and the experiences of customers themselves.

More than technology

PayPal Marketing Director Elaine Herlihy, who previously led Westpac’s brand and marketing functions, says technology is just one component of the customer experience.

“We are deferring and defaulting to technology now when we talk about customer experience, but it is in fact the whole sum of everything you do,” she told an audience at a panel session at Conference of Major Super Funds, 2018. 

“It is your people, processes and touchpoints that can be a contact centre.  It can be a social media presence or a product experience or how you interact with a company's technology. So it's really important that all of those things work together and create that utility.”

Australia’s banks are among world-leaders when it comes to using technology effectively.

Of the Australian respondents to the Mitel survey, 42% said their banks were delivering great experiences versus only 29% in the U.S, with older consumers reporting much higher satisfaction levels than younger consumers.

Millennials: a different relationship with technology 

It is a telling difference between generations. A poor customer experience is Gen Y professionals’ biggest pain point with their bank, according to KPMG’s Banking on the Future report. 

Almost half of the 1,400 Gen Y professionals surveyed, raised issues such as the time it took to process requests and standard opening hours. Meanwhile, more than three-quarters (84%) of Gen Ys said they would consider banking with a tech giant. 

Neo-banks may beat them to the punch.

They dispense with branches and are built on a 100% digital and mobile platform without legacy systems at the back end – a key to improving the customer experience. Neo-banks have become well established in the UK where new entrants like smartphone-only Monzo have built a strong youth-oriented customer base.

In Australia, Volt Bank received Australia’s first restricted ADI (Authorised Deposit-taking Institution) licence from the prudential regulator in mid-2018 while another start-up, Xinja, already has a prepaid debit card in the market.

Xinja Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer Van Le said it is using technology to re-create the experience of a private banker. 

“It should feel like an entire bank branch that’s open 24-7 where you're the only customer," she said. The customer experience they are building has several points of differentiation such as communicating in more day-to-day language (such as emojis) and eliminating queues to speak to someone (who often ends up being the wrong person).

However, a digital end-to-end customer experience doesn’t mean no human interaction, according to Le.

“Your smart phone can enable a whole range of interactions: you can fill in forms, speak to someone, do video calls, and have chat. If anything, it enriches the human interaction experience because you can be multi-modal in how you interact with someone. That's the potential of being able to fit an entire banking experience into the size of an app.”

The current era of FinTech has quickly redefined customer expectations as well as the possibilities for companies. What hasn’t changed is the end-point: a great customer experience, says PayPal’s Elaine Herlihy.

"Technology is a how not a why.”
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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