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Customer experience rules are changing. Is the UAE adapting?

Does today’s need for digital transformation mean companies can relax or delay their focus on the customer experience (CX) until their teams and systems are in place?

80% of financial institutions' customers value the experience a company provides as much as product and service offerings The first financial services companies to deploy autonomous finance will gain a significant competitive advantage The UAE’s travel and hotel sectors have outperformed other countries’ counterpart industry CX

Does today’s need for digital transformation mean companies can relax or delay their focus on the customer experience (CX) until their teams and systems are in place?

According to experts and surveys, that would be a big mistake.  

CX in finance 

This Salesforce report surveyed nearly 2,800 leaders across wealth management, insurance, and retail banking to discover how financial services institutions (FSIs) prioritize CX. 

In the rush to handle the influx of new digital demands, FSIs prioritized implementing new technologies and improving customer trust, in the process displacing CX as the top-ranked priority.

Customers have taken notice: Only 27% feel the financial services industry is customer-centric.   

80% say they value the experience a company provides as much as its product and service offerings.  

Two-thirds of customers also expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.  

The study revealed that FSIs focused on long-term customer relationships over short-term wins are better poised for growth.

They are 24% more likely to improve their user experience compared to short-term focused companies.  

Long-term focused FSIs are 12% more likely to personalize communications and offers.

Read: Burger King wins the internet by asking customers to buy from McDonald’s, KFC, and others

Autonomous is the CX in finance

Autonomous finance, or self-driving finance, addresses the CX gap at scale.

Forrester Research defines autonomous finance as algorithm-driven financial services that make decisions or take action on a customer’s behalf. 

Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) can help bridge the gap between customer expectations and what FSIs can offer. 

For retail banks, this could mean automating account transfers based on past behavior. Insurers, on the other hand, could automate manual, resource-intensive claims processes. 

Autonomous finance’s top business benefit is tied between improving CX and providing businesses with a better understanding of their customers.  

According to 89% of financial services leaders, the first financial services companies to deploy autonomous finance will gain a significant competitive advantage. 

The Reasons for Banks to Embark on the Journey Toward Self-driving finance are clear: 

Customers need help making better financial decisions and customers are gaining more trust in automated financial services.

When incumbent financial institutions introduce automated services to better help customers manage their finances, they boost customer engagement, acquisition, and retention, as well as up-sales and cross-sales, and ultimately the bank’s ROI and bottom line.

Forrester frames the journey toward achieving autonomous finance in four levels of maturity:

Level 1 – Specific actions are automated, but only as directed by a human, such as recurring transfers.

Level 2 – Entire tasks, involving multiple actions, are automated, but the human is asked to intervene under certain circumstances.

Level 3 – Most aspects of a customer’s financial life are automated, including where their money is stored, how it is allocated, and which firms are used for transactions. Customers still manage major financial decisions, such as retirement plans and debt management solutions.

Level 4 – Customers’ entire financial lives are managed based on the customer’s best interest, as well as current and anticipated needs.

Read: Rankings of top UAE and Saudi brands reflect efforts to improve customer perception

Regional sector CX action 

Travel and Hospitality

The UAE’s travel and hotel sectors have outperformed other countries’ counterpart industry CX , while Emirates Airline ranked first in KPMG’s ‘UAE Customer Experience Excellence Report 2020’, which analyzes changing consumer behaviors.

The UAE’s overall performance in CX increased by 7% since 2018, according to the report.  

The top 10 performers in the UAE also included HSBC, VOX Cinemas, Emirates NBD, Carrefour, DEWA, Centrepoint, FedEx, Spinneys, and DHL. 

For its part, Etihad Airways was not idle. It recently partnered with PressReader to bring global content to Etihad’s international passengers wherever they fly worldwide unlocking more than 7,000 newspapers and magazines from 120 countries in over 60 languages.  

“As part of our commitment to reducing the spread of COVID-19, we removed high-touch surfaces including printed newspapers and magazines from the customer journey and enhanced the (customer) experience by partnering with PressReader,” notes Terry Daly, Executive Director Guest Experience, Brand & Marketing, Etihad Aviation Group. 

Companies scoring high on customer experience typically record higher revenue growth.

The common contributors to the success of the top 10 UAE companies were identified as being continuous innovation-driven improvement, a desire to deliver the best CX in their field, uncovering customers’ hidden needs, and being adaptable, responsive, and often first to market with game-changing innovations.

Amazon UAE CX

Amazon is leveraging its 20+ years of global technology innovation to create more efficient processes for customers and associates in the UAE.  

It opened a new 2.4 million cubic feet delivery station in the UAE using advanced logistics systems and a technology delivery app to help drivers optimize their delivery routes, providing a seamless road experience.

Middle East bots

Bots have been satisfactorily answering 62% of customer queries in the e-commerce industry, reveals a new study.  

The survey analyzed 1.8 million queries from 35 brands across the Middle East and Asia to understand the average metrics that an e-commerce company should monitor to provide the required quality of CX and service.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) recently launched ADIB Chat Banking, the UAE’s first Emirati (and classical) language customer care chatbot.  

Powered by AI, machine learning, and natural language processing, the chat application will enable users to fulfill their banking needs in real-time and get personalized experiences on WhatsApp.