By Viktor Prokopenya, Founder, Capital.com
The results of the Which? current account survey released this month make one thing abundantly clear – the fintech industry is causing major disruption to high street banks. Online disruptors like Starling, Monzo and Triodos came out on top in the survey with customer satisfaction scores all above 80% – whereas traditional banks such as the Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC lingered at the bottom with scores of just 56% and 57% respectively.
With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that the old banks are doing what they can to compete and keep their customers on board: 88% of existing financial institutions are anticipating sections of their business being lost to standalone fintech companies in the next 5 years. In reaction to this, 77% are turning their eye to innovations that will focus on retaining their existing customer base.
This may not be surprising, but it is a reminder that for companies to survive, the user base needs to be at the forefront of strategy. In the words of retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge: “the customer is always right”.
This sentiment rings as true today in the tech industry as it did on the shop floor over 100 years ago. Research continually suggests that prioritising consumer feedback is excellent business practice. Reports suggest that 72% of users will only act after reading a positive review, and for nearly 9 in 10 consumers, an online review is as important as a personal recommendation.
There are a number of actions that can be undertaken to prioritise customers, such as investigating all comments and reviews left for an app or routinely seeking out feedback from those who have used a product. Continually acting on feedback is one of the most reliable ways to ensure the best user experience. The power of business leaders understanding and respecting the opinions of their users cannot be underestimated in a crowded and competitive market.
Something that many businesses fail to understand is that an authentic and successful attitude of respect towards their users cannot be realised unless the same attitudes are reflected in their workspaces. If a business wants to be centred around the best customer experience, an important aspect will be how their team members treat each other and are treated by the organisation.
A tech company could hire the best programmer in the world, but if they lack respect for others in the office, they’re not going to contribute positively to customer service. An environment where people are impatient, short tempered or easily frustrated will eventually reflect on the way their employees treat their customers – and when the customer is the priority, this cannot be accepted.
Prioritising the treatment of customers and therefore staff is an attitude that spells success across all sectors, not just fintech. Take the UK supermarket Waitrose, which routinely tops industry surveys for customer service. Waitrose customers view time and effort as key concerns, so this is prioritised by the business. On its website, there are a number of features designed with time saving in mind, such as the online ‘trolley’ which has links to favourite products, tailored shopping suggestions and an import tool which allows the transfer of shopping lists from other supermarket websites or from Waitrose receipts. Feedback on the business from customers is also closely tracked, and staff are trained to go out of their way to make the experience of shopping at Waitrose as easy and personal as possible.
Waitrose treats its customers well, but it also looks after its staff. People who work for Waitrose are part of the John Lewis partnership, the largest employee-owned business in the UK. When employees are respected, so are the customers.
This is not to say that successful businesses need to become partnerships, but simply that employees who are treated well go on to treat the customers that they interact with well too.
There are other business benefits of prioritising the way staff interact with each other in the office. In a study of 20,000 employees globally conducted by The Harvard Business Review, it was found that the single most important characteristic of leadership in business was the ability to demonstrate respect. Higher levels of respect translate into more committed and engaged employees, and importantly for productivity, more committed employees make up to 60% fewer mistakes compared to those who are disengaged by their work.
At Capital.com, our customer first approach has won us numerous accolades, such as the most innovative tech by Trading View in 2022. Other achievements include ranking among the top 5 brokers by BrokerChooser and receiving top ratings for client satisfaction by Invesment Trends. We are also proud to boast strong user reviews online – including an impressive 4.7 out of 5 average on the App Store across over 10,000 reviews. By approaching business this way, we will continue to provide the best service for our customers, as well as ensuring our employees are in an environment that facilitates their best work.
In recent years, the whole fintech sector has seen huge successes by making the lives of users easier through technology. The new generation of banks understand what consumers want – easy to navigate technology that responds to issues when they arise. Gone are the days where the only way to solve an issue was by being put on hold for 30 minutes after calling customer service, or by visiting a busy bank on your lunch break. Issues can now be solved easily from apps on our smartphones.
As the increasing cost of living starts to cause financial anxieties for consumers, these kinds of advances in consumer facing tech will only become more important. Fortunately, with tech and consumer internet firms accounting for 40% all the capital raised through IPOs on the London Stock Exchange in 2020, there is an appetite for continued growth in this area. Companies in the fintech sector are going to have to continue to ensure that customers are supported, and customer service will underpin retention efforts more than ever before.