Remaking banking customer experience in response to coronavirus

McKinsey 07 Apr 2020 12:00

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The last time there was a global crisis, banks were widely perceived to be a big part of the problem. This time around, banks are central to the solution.

Banks can play an immediate role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by helping customers make better use of existing digital and remote channels. And banks can help limit the impact of the likely downturn by building new experiences to help their customers manage debt, adjust budgets, and make full use of new government programs.

In normal times, customer experience in banking is about making customers happy—with the result that they are more loyal, use products more, and cost less to serve. In the context of COVID-19, superior customer experience means clarity and transparency, support for digital tools with which many customers are still unfamiliar, and new products and services for customers in distress.

A first-cut action plan

In response to the crisis, most banks need to meaningfully reset their customer agenda to meet urgent needs—and to do so for the uncertain period likely to continue for some time.

In normal times, many customers struggle with the transition to digital. For instance, in the United States, while the most satisfied customers use digital multiple times per week, the second most satisfied customers do not use digital at all. The least satisfied banking customers are those who use digital tools infrequently, less than once per month. This is because customers go through a learning curve as they adopt digital tools, and most banks under-support their customers in the adoption journey. In the current environment, banks should redouble their efforts to smooth customers’ transition to digital.

2. Introduce new experiences for distressed customers

The key design principles for serving distressed customers are awareness, simplicity, transparency, clear expectations, and frequent status updates.

Employee experience shapes customer experience. That is even more true in a crisis.

In the near term, banks will need tremendous effort from their employees to navigate the crisis, they must engage with customers empathetically, and they should adjust operations. In this context, banks need to make a credible commitment to their employees and acknowledge the contributions they are making, using both words and policy (for instance, flexible sick leave and compensation).

Delivering on customer experience will be an integral part of how banks reassert their positive role in society during the coronavirus crisis. By addressing new customer needs and concerns while improving their own efficiency and effectiveness, banks will be a stabilizing force in a very uncertain environment.

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