Satisfaction among account holders with UK banks and building societies has surged to a record high of 80.4 points (out of 100), the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) has revealed, marking the highest score recorded since the UKCSI began in 2008. One reason for the score’s improvement was the quality of the online experience and the customer journeys offered to banking clients.

The financial services industry is rapidly evolving, and the key to success for UK financial institutions lies in their ability to provide an exceptional experience to consumers. By leveraging the latest technology and artificial intelligence, banks and building societies can better compete against the rise of digital banks. 

The changing attitudes toward finance by younger generations is something we have previously reviewed. Still, it is essential to note that since then, a Which survey showed that two of the top five banks rated by UK customers are digital banks, with the highest rated provider, Starling Bank, scoring 83% for satisfaction.

This article discusses the top four ways UK financial institutions can get ahead of the competition and improve their customer journeys.

Custom integrations

To meet the diverse needs of consumers, UK banks and building societies must ensure their public-facing and back-office platforms include third-party integrations. By investing in a pre-built solution, financial institutions can foster collaboration with fintech partners faster, offering consumers a broader range of services without sacrificing security or incurring the costs of developing and maintaining such platforms. One example is implementing personalised financial management tools that allow account holders to set and track financial goals, identify trends in financial habits, and receive real-time updates, empowering them to take control of their finances.

Image: UK banks and building societies must ensure their back-office platforms include third-party integrations. © Getty Images
UK banks and building societies must ensure their back-office platforms include third-party integrations. © Getty Images

Staying ahead of market trends can be a daunting task, but it is crucial for financial institutions to offer the latest products and services. Consumer needs are evolving, and the divide between the services a customer expects has never been more significant. The first key to anticipating market trends is understanding your consumers’ habits and preferences and analysing and considering how proactively they might adopt new technologies and services to identify where you should invest. 

A customer base study may indicate that account holders are not receptive to new technologies. Within a short time, an organisation might find they are suddenly behind on the expectations of clients. An example of this is the swift rise in mobile banking. Many organisations that didn’t jump on board with early adoption, instead opting to invest in other forms of client engagement, now find themselves catching up to the perceived industry standard.

Improving communication with AI

Artificial intelligence has revolutionised customer engagement across multiple sectors, and the banking sector is no different. For over a decade now, chatbots and virtual assistants have helped clients navigate queries, offer responses, and freed agents to focus on more complex tasks. As a new generation of AI emerges, we see organisations utilising predictive communications to clients based on insights gained by analysing their behaviour, engagement, and reactions to previous communications. Personalisation at this level can include product recommendations, promotions, and customised financial advice, but it can also predict when clients may be experiencing financial hardship and reach out automatically.

How a bank or building society handles customers experiencing financial hardship can significantly impact whether that consumer will stay loyal to an organisation. In a webinar hosted by Sopra Banking Software in 2023, a panel of UK financial industry experts looked at ways banks and building societies could practice empathetic lending. To do so, they put their customers at the heart of processes and creating agile customer-centric products, delivered through an exceptional customer journey.

Image: Thanks to a new generation of AI, organisations are utilising predictive communications to their clients. 
© Getty Images
Thanks to a new generation of AI, organisations are utilising predictive communications to their clients.
© Getty Images

Multichannel engagements

Today’s consumers expect seamless transitions between online and offline channels. An integrated and consistent experience across all touchpoints is critical in branding and ensuring that all channels offer consumers a consistent end-to-end journey.

A customer should be able to transition seamlessly between a mobile app and a website or branch without significant delays or changes. A unified view of customer interactions across channels provides a more personalised, customer-centric experience.

Staying ahead of the game can be a challenge and a tricky balance to get right. However, success relies on a keen awareness of environmental, social, and governance considerations and having the right partnerships to achieve business objectives. Aligning strategies with these principles allows organisations to identify solutions that meet regulatory requirements, prioritize sustainability, promote responsible banking processes, and ultimately retain and attract consumers with an attractive service.  

Sopra Banking Software offers solutions that empower UK banks and building societies to enhance their customer experience. Click here to learn more about our UK Mortgage and Savings Solutions.

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Nicholas Christodoulou

Head of Consultancy SMS UK

Sopra Banking Software