In the financial services industry the banking sector is seeing positive yet modest growth, and  many firms are zeroing in on customer experience as a means of fueling growth and competitive advantage. We have found that rather than simply trying to “wow” customers/members, banks and credit unions can gain more by making customer interactions as “effortless” as possible across channels.

In the financial services industry the banking sector is seeing positive yet modest growth, and many firms are zeroing in on customer experience as a means of fueling growth and competitive advantage. Their approaches to elevating customer experience, though, vary significantly.


Why does effort matter?

Customers go through a customer experience ”cycle” in their interactions with banks and credit unions. The opportunity is to gain more by making customer interactions as “effortless” as possible across channels.

A consistent ease across all channels is as important to revenue growth, as “wow-ing” and delighting customers and members with new products and services.

Different channels serve each purpose – from the electronic onboarding, to account set up, and transaction processing, thru to customer Care and Support. Differentiating the value of the channel, while being consistent is what customers will most remember.

The West Monroe Partners’ 2015 Customer Effort Index in Banking Study studied the level of effort required to do business with more than 25 national and regional banks and credit unions. Through this research, we not only identified “customer effort leaders” and the practices that those banks and credit unions employ to reduce customer effort; we also established a correlation between low customer effort and higher revenue growth.

How do you want to be remembered?

Practices that characterize “channel leaders”

What are the “leading practices” for each channel? These are capabilities and practices employed by the bank(s)/credit union(s) that earned the best overall score(s) for the channel; thus, these practices contributed to those banks’ and credit unions’ overall “low effort” ratings. The channels each shared common “top 3 leading practices” as listed below:

Public websites

  • Customer segmentation: Defines customer segments and life stages and has filters in place to take customers to the right page depending on their situation.
  • Product bundling: Defines product offerings clearly defined and bundles them with other products for specific customer segments.
  • Call to action prompts: Has clearly visible “apply now” or “get started” buttons, as well as buttons for contacting a customer service representative, if needed.

Online banking

  • Easy onboarding: Breaks onboarding activity into logical steps to guide the user and provides “help text” to indicate appropriate information/reasoning. Communicates status and next steps. Allows customers to add multiple products at one time and includes information “pre-fill” capabilities through a workflow or wizard tool feature. Allows options to chat/call resources and to use wire transfers to fund new accounts.
  • Bill pay and transfers: Provides easy access to bill pay and transfer functions.
  • Account tracking and dashboards: Provides a detailed account structure view, as well as a financial dashboard with status tracking ability.

 Mobile banking

  • Digital cross-channel consistency: Includes all relevant information from the full public website and has a consistent look and feel to the online banking platform.
  • Alert functionality: Allows users to manage and view transaction alerts via the mobile application.
  • Mobile bill pay and remote deposit capture: Allows users to pay bills and accelerate collections by scanning checks and transmitting the scanned images and/or ACH-data to a bank for posting and clearing.

Contact center—live customer agent

  • Accessibility: Provided 24/7 customer service from live agents, not limited to lost/stolen cards and fraud.
  • Personalization: Delivered highly personalized interactions, including addressing the customer/member by name immediately, minimizing repetition of information, and using little or no industry jargon.
  • Proactivity: Informed live agents of customer needs prior to interaction and enabled proactive recommendations to facilitate first call resolution (FCR).

Contact center – Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR)

  • Voice/Pace consistency: Have a consistent voice and pacing throughout the entire “tree.”
  • Consistent navigation buttons: Have individual phone keypad buttons with consistent functionality throughout the IVR “tree.”
  • Strong self-help: Provides effective in-line help (help located within the IVR system itself)

How We do It

The lower the effort required, the better the performance.

West Monroe Partners’ technique for measuring customer effort is a multi-channel metric called a Customer Effort Index (CEI). We used this approach to benchmark customer effort in the banking industry, which includes credit unions. The West Monroe Partners’ 2015 Customer Effort Index in Banking Study—conducted in late 2014 and early 2015—included more than 25 national and regional US banks and credit unions.

The CEI first examines revenue growth on income statements from publicly available financial data; Than runs a statistical regression and correlation analysis of the institutions’ CEI (assessed during 2014) with revenue growth from 2013 to 2014. The result is statistically significant indicators – correlation coefficients and a regression line —demonstrating empirically that level of customer effort, as measured by the Customer Effort Index, correlates highly with revenue growth.

Why We Do it

This research concludes that taking steps to understand customer effort through quantifiable results, can ensure that customer experiences are as effortless as possible across channels. We want to help banks and credit unions break out of the “commoditization” rut, accelerate time to revenue, while creating a repeatable, memorable customer experience.

For the full Summary on West Monroe Partners’ 2015 Customer Effort Index in Banking Study please click link and register here.

For more information on how Customer Effort Index can help you reduce customer effort and grow revenue, please contact Dave Nash, Director-Customer Experience, at dnash@westmonroepartners.com or Patricia Tripar, Senior Manager-Banking & Credit Unions at ptripar@westmonroepartners.com.