Eight years ago, Forrester set out to find the corporate trait that does the most to create loyalty among financial services consumers. Loyalty, of course, is about more than simply retaining customers: Loyal customers are willing to buy more, borrow more, save more, and invest more with the firms they already use. We tested dozens of variables, including the length of the customer’s relationship with the firm, the quality of the firm’s customer service, and the firm’s money management skills. One trait emerged above all others: the perception on the part of customers that the firm does what’s best for them, not just what’s best for the firm’s own bottom line. We call it customer advocacy.
The Big US banks dominate the bottom of our rankings of 47 firms. Thirteen of the bottom 14 firms are banks, including all of the nation’s 10 largest banks. Fewer than one-in-four customers of Citibank and Capital One Bank believe that the firm has their best interests at heart. Small banking institutions, on the other hand, are among the customer advocacy leaders – and are winning market share in the process. Two-thirds of the customers of credit unions and well over half of the customers of regional and local banks rate their firms high on customer advocacy.
Call centers sit on the frontline of customer experience where they provide sales, support, and customer service functions. They’re often customers’ first — and sometimes their only — human interaction with a company.
Even with conservative estimates, it’s easy to make the case that large call centers have customer influence on par with, if not greater than, that of mass advertising campaigns. (Assuming a call center with 3,000 agents and an average of only 50 calls per agent per day, a company has the opportunity to make 1.05 million personal connections each week — and 54.6 million each year.)
Call center interactions have the potential to build a company’s brand image, delight people so much that they recommend the brand to friends, and even generate incremental sales.
But bad call center experiences spoil millions of daily opportunities to drive business value.
Despite their reach and potential impact on the business, call centers go largely ignored. Instead, companies are making deeper investments in the Web and other sexy of-the-moment digital service interactions, like mobile and Social Computing. Consumers have noticed — they tell us that phone conversations with live agents just don’t stack up to online or in-store experiences. What's worse, Forrester has been tracking US consumer satisfaction with phone conversations across multiple industries since 2007 and 2008, and all but one industry saw their satisfaction rates sink during this time period. Only investment firms bucked the downward trend, and even there, the story isn’t a whole lot better: Satisfaction scores have been effectively flat since 2007.
Without a doubt, the hottest inquiry category for insurance ebusiness and channel execs (and insurance IT, for that matter) has been anything to do with claims. And why not, since as one insurance ebiz executive we talked with pointed out, isn’t claim handling the real business of insurance? We also saw the big interest in both customer experience and claims processing when we surveyed 75 or so US and Canadian insurers a little less than a year ago, with both appearing in the top three insurance business priorities into 2011.
The claim is the real moment of truth in the insurer-policyholder relationship, and that experience is a big factor in whether that policyholder decides to stick around when the claim gets settled. Just what’s on the minds of insurance roles when it comes to claims this year? For starters, here’s a sampling of claim-related inquiry topics I’ve fielded:
What’s the business value of claims concierge services? (and check this out—three inquiries about claims concierge services in two days!)
Why do policyholders still want to file claims with their agents?
How is document scanning and imaging being used for claims?
What role is streaming video playing in claims?
What’s the state of mobile claims applications for field adjusters?
And many, many questions on the vendor landscape for claims applications, including an interesting one on integrating legal matter management into the claims system for asbestos-related workers’ comp claims
I’m just wrapping up a report on how carriers can tame the claims beast, but in the meantime, if you’d like to learn our thinking and what else is simmering around the topic of claims, that’s just an inquiry away.
As you’d expect from a Forrester analyst, this is Peter O'Neill by the way, I travel a lot— about 40% of my working days. But it is also amazing how a full week spent in the home office can still feel so busy! These days, social media keeps you in the discussion mainstream – perhaps even more so than if you are on the road because you have more time to engage. Bob Apollo, at the UK-based consultancy even tweeted me privately this week with the message, “And you a VP at Forrester, reading my stuff, an 'umble blogger... I'm not worthy...” after I told him that I enjoyed his tweets and found them useful. Well, even as a fully fledged analyst for tech marketers, I continue to be eager to learn from anybody else. And I do this without any fear of appearing to copy others — here in Germany a popular government minister has now resigned because he plagiarized the majority of his doctorate dissertation years ago; bad enough itself, but he initially denied it when discovered.
Young consumers are now almost always connected to media — which would rationally lead you to think that the more times and places they are connected, the more ways there are (and the easier it is) to interact with them. This is where market researchers need to step in and push their companies to dig deeper than just measuring the time spent on a media channel. They need to truly understand these consumers' core motivations for using it.
More than 90% of 12- to 17-year-olds who are active on social networks have an account on Facebook, which is their go-to social network, no doubt. But they haven't completely abandoned other networks: almost 40% have an account on both Facebook and Myspace.
With 78% of 12- to 17-year-olds having a social networking account, social networking’s power is undeniable. But it's not enough just to look at these channels to see what type of content or information 12- to 17-year-olds are consuming; it's how, why, and when they're consuming it. Without tapping into these deeper motivations, brands will never fully benefit from this social opportunity.
At some point in our lives, we all go through the challenge of moving, and it isn’t a whole lot of fun, even when it should be. You have to find a place to move, make offers, secure loans and income verification… all that fun stuff that you swear to yourself you’ll never go through again because it’s such a hassle. For me, it’s not the boxes, the upheaval of routine, or even the challenge of dealing with all the administrivia that seems to pop up just when you think all the paperwork is in order. No. What I dislike most is changing my address for subscriptions, financial accounts, and other services.
At some point we all have to go through the basic task of updating our personal information with a company. It’s simple self-service task, right? You log in to your account, click on a link that says “change mailing address,” input your new information, and move on. You may even get a reassuring email confirming that your information has been changed. It seems so simple — and in this day and age it should be. But why, then, do companies make it so hard to change your address online?
In the past week I must have gone through the process at least 20 times and found a range of problems including:
Companies are in a unique position today, as they have an unprecedented ability to collect information about consumers through various channels and thus create rich and deep profiles of their target customers. However, what is considered a goldmine of information has actually highlighted many pain points, including:
Consumers are being bombarded with multiple surveys across different channels by different departments. As a result, consumers feel more and more that they are being badgered for information about themselves.
A siloed department structure creates little incentive to collaborate across departments. Thus, repetition of similar projects by different departments occurs, contradictory results can be communicated internally, and learning based on a department’s successes and failures from past projects is not communicated across departments.
Yesterday I attended the first day of the ESOMAR Shopper Insights Conference 2011 in Brussels, and I was pleasantly surprised by the innovative thinking by the presenters, both in the methodologies used and in the way they look at the Market Insights profession.
There were a number of presentations on innovative methodologies, such as eye-tracking. All of them had cool videos to share and gave insights into how these methodologies can be used to better understand shopper behaviors. The presentation that really stuck with me, however, was from Stephanie Grootenhuis, from Kraft Foods International, who talked about the “Incite to Action” initiative.
She came on stage, and said: "All the presentations until now have talked about understanding shoppers better and the difficulties you encounter when doing (global) research. But to be honest, that's not my biggest challenge. What my team struggles with is HOW to share our knowledge and communicate our findings effectively into the organization."