Customer Experience Best Practice: Why is the UK being outperformed by the US?
The UK boasts some exceptional brands in the Customer Experience Excellence rankings. Companies such as first direct, Skipton Building Society and American Express dominate the top 10, with exceptional scores across The Six PillarsTM. Yet on a global scale, the competition is tough; brands in the United States have truly mastered the art of customer experience best practice, and have raised the bar for companies across the globe. Compared with the UK, there is a marked difference in the quality of customer experience on offer.
Typically, financial services brands in America are defined by their superior approach to the pillar of Resolution. When issues arise, brand employees are often empowered to take ownership of problems and make independent decisions, without having to navigate a minefield of departments, overcrowded inboxes and pieces of bureaucracy. In the UK, this is often not the case, with companies instead focusing their investment on risk management and on the streamlining of complaints once they have occurred.
Moreover, some of the best companies across the pond have been able to make significant digital innovations. For example, one of the best American financial services brands, the USAA – United Services Automobile Association – allows its innovations to be driven by the customer. The pace of technological change is guided by the customers’ needs and goals, and is not restricted to an independent department, isolated from the rest of the company. Instead, ‘digital’ is integral to its customer experience aspirations.
One of these innovations is a voice-controlled personal banker known as NINA. Accessible from any mobile device, NINA is an acronym for Nuance Interactive Natural Assistant, and affords the customer with a more individualised experience that is also highly convenient. In addition, USAA has developed technology that enables customers to make insurance claims at the scene of an accident. Drivers can use their smartphones to attach photographs and voice recordings to their claims, along with details of the weather conditions and the relevant GPS co-ordinates. There is a level of sophistication and customer experience best practice that is relevant and practical, and not just cosmetic.
As Tom Grothues of SVP Financial Foundations at USAA points out: “USAA has an uncompromising commitment to world class experiences – it’s simply in our DNA. Member satisfaction and retention are two key indicators of the memberships’ experience with USAA, and we are industry leading in both.”
This is exemplified in the investment brand Edward Jones, which scores an outstanding 8.42 in the American Customer Experience Excellence rankings, a result that is 11 per cent ahead of the 2015 average. At the heart of Edward Jones’ achievements is a succession of passionate CEOs who have embraced and driven the fundamental principles of how the customer should be treated, principles that are reflected in a unique business model and brand culture. The company works hard to dispense with the impression that it is a faceless, distant financial organisation, and strives to add the ‘human touch’ to its customer interactions. This inevitably leads to the brand ‘going the extra mile’ for the customer, be it through hand-written thank you notes, or by sending them flowers on Valentine’s Day.
As one Edward Jones customer stated: “We’ve been with Edward Jones for six or seven years now. Our investment agent is great and very personal. He contacts us on our birthdays and checks in with us to set up meetings to discuss any changing needs. We like the personal service.”
Indeed, it is clear that many other customers appreciate the personal service too, with Edward Jones achieving an excellent score in the pillar of Personalisation, standing at six per cent ahead of the United States average.
As such, if UK companies are to reach the same level of customer experience best practice, they need to take a closer look at not only their key competitors, but also at what other sectors – in and outside of the UK are doing.
For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.