Folks, we head into a new world, and one that we are seeing is quite a challenge in financial services. This world is about ‘Customer Experience Management’. With the advent of transparency and the need to deliver demonstrable value to consumers in order to receive fees, there is now the immediate and present challenge as to how to deliver value to consumers where value is in their minds, not what was sold to them.

Because the feeling of value is so different for so many different consumers, the industry is evolving to understanding that the consumer ‘experience’ is actually as important, if not more important than other parts of service delivery. Move over ‘products’, it is now about ‘experience’. In an on-line world, products are often available everywhere, purchased on-line and often at razor thin margins. In the world of ‘experiences’, anything goes, and consumers will vote with their feet if they don’t think your experience is up to it. Difficult to predict, yet perhaps a goldmine for those who can get a lead and jump into a new way of consumer engagement ahead of the competition.

Only this week, I tried to set up a share trading account with a new service in the Australian market. The website looked great, big balance sheet backing, some nice looking screens, but after half an hour I had failed to set up one of the accounts. After many pages asking me questions, each with nice ticks beside them, at the last hurdle I got a message on the lines of ‘unexpected error – please call the call centre’. As you can imagine I rated this a poor customer experience, and whilst I did ring the call centre, they only rubbed salt into the wound and asked me to repeat the whole process all over again – another half hour perhaps lost. Sorry, I have moved on.

The key things to think about in the world of customer experiences is what is it really like to be a customer ?, not what is it like to be you, not like your manager etc ? One thing is for sure, unless you are out there talking to them, understanding the new era of consumerism, consumer interactions and consumer tolerances and alternatives, you have little chance of success.

In our business at Financial Simplicity, we have invested over 15 years already in working with consumers and those that service them, understanding what our clients and their consumer clients are seeking about consumer centric investment products and services. Whilst we are proud of this, we still suspect that we are only part way down the journey and have more to learn, and given the ever changing pace of social innovation, suspect it may never cease either.