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Empathy — the process by which one can sense the emotions of another individual and act accordingly — is a skill that many companies in the UK and globally believe they have and enact well, but is often not perceived as such by consumers. This is as relevant in the financial services’ industry as it is in any other. To help visualize this, we have identified two financial services organizations — MorganAsh and PFS — that are based in the UK and employ an empathetic approach to customer service and have seen positive outcomes as a result. For each business, we have provided a brief overview of their services and offerings, a detailed breakdown of their empathetic approach and messaging, and metrics of success including client commentary and words from executives. In addition to this, we have identified additional insights and statistics regarding how empathy is perceived by consumers. Where possible, we have located data specifically related to the UK market, particularly the financial services sector. Finally, we were able to identify 5 organizations that offer empathy training and/or certifications for businesses, including a few that are located and available in the UK. For each training company identified, we have very briefly detailed what the service consists of and who it is geared towards.

1. MorganAsh

  • MorganAsh is a financial services company with a designated empathetic approach for all of the services and offerings. The brand believes that their empathetic determination “complements” their services, particularly for insurance and finance organizations. The focus on empathy by MorganAsh is referred to as their “Peace of Mind‘ service.
  • Some of the services offered by MorganAsh include but are not limited to morality studies, crisis support, and unbiased emotional support during financial difficulties.
  • Through their core services for businesses and individual clients alike, MorganAsh continuously mentions the use of “human empathy” in combination with technological skills and expertise to ensure customer satisfaction.
  • For individual clients that are looking for financial assistance, MorganAsh markets their “Peace of Mind” services with the following messaging:
    • “Peace of Mind is the collective name for a group of services provided by MorganAsh — designed to meet people’s needs in a more sympathetic and caring way than many traditional services.”
    • “Peace of Mind provides empathetic help, support and guidance for people when they need it most.”
    • “MorganAsh has been supporting the financial services sector, with a range of innovative services which help organizations achieve greater regulatory compliance, gather more accurate information — and deliver differentiated customer experiences.”
  • MorganAsh has won a wide variety of awards and recognition for their services, including being a finalist for the “COVER Customer Care” awards in 2019.
  • Customers of MorganAsh have had many positive things to say about the empathetic services and customer engagement. Some examples include:
    • “Very impressed, genuinely surprised, and wasn’t expecting the support aspect. Very helpful, thank you…Impressed by your efforts.”
    • “MorganAsh carried out this delicate work with sensitivity and efficiency…The payback on the investment in this project is tremendous.”
  • MorganAsh has published case studies for businesses and clients alike that detail their success with a more empathetic approach. Some of these case studies reference increased participation rates, increased income, and helping clients identify best routes of action for their given situations.

2. Prepaid Financial Services (PFS)

  • PFS is based out of the UK and has become one of the largest e-money and financial services companies in all of Europe. This organization offers services and products including but not limited to physical and virtual bank cards, multi-currency cards, e-vouchers, and business services.
  • There are four levels to PFS’ customer service area of business, especially for the handling of customer complaints and problems. This process promotes the commitment that PFS has to their clients and offers transparency in the brand’s business intentions and goals.
    • For starters, PFS makes an effort to directly address customer experience with a Service Team that can identify and address customer expectations. From there, PFS maintains a Complaints Team that will investigate customer experiences directly to ensure satisfaction.
    • PFS has also openly publicizes the option for consumers to file disputes of service with the European Union and the Financial Ombudsman Service, which makes the brand appear as honest, direct, and empathetic.
  • In June 2020, the CEO of PFS released the following statement when a financial regulation in the UK was implemented that was predicted to have possible negative, adverse effects on the company’s Wirecard users:
    • “Our first thoughts are with the customers and clients of Wirecard. Given our years of experience, reputation in the industry and sound financial footing we stand at the ready to assist with a world-class payment solution suite…We at PFS/EML enthusiastically work within regulatory frameworks worldwide to ensure we continue to positively shape and impact the digital commerce revolution.”
  • PFS has published a variety of case studies to help visualize their success. PFS helped the Red Cross implement a cash transfer program that provided assistance to more than 6,000 households and refugees in Greece.

Consumer Sentiment: Empathetic Business Approaches

  • According to the 2019 Accenture Global Financial Services Cosnumer Study, consumers want businesses to address their core needs via value propositions. For some, this may lead a consumer to choose one financial provider over another based on the personalized services available, data privacy and sharing terms, and most importantly, the ability to trust an organization.
  • 80% of consumers believe that personalized services and offerings are key to trusting a financial services organization and offering their data to share.
  • A study conducted by Ethology, a customer experience agency, found that only 5% of banking customers feel as though they are empathized with. Furthermore, around 74% of banking customers believe that their relationship with their financial institution(s) is purely transactional.
  • In a global survey conducted by Capgemini in 2017, 67% of retail banking businesses reported that they believed themselves to be consumer-centric and empathetic. However, only 42% of their customers agreed. Across all industries in the UK, 92% of companies believe they are consumer-centric, but only 15% of consumers agree.
  • Only 47% of global retail banking customers believe that business they interact with listen to their feedback and act on it. Furthermore, only 46% of these same customers feel as though retail banks reward them for their loyalty, and 48% believe that the bank they do business with offers a better customer experience than competitors.
  • A 2018 report from Clear Strategy found that around 75% of consumers in the UK do not believe that brands care about them as an individual at all. On average, UK companies lose between £220M AND £390M in revenue as a result of poor customer experiences.
  • Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 68% of Americans report that how a brand responds to the hardships of the crisis will have a significant impact on whether or not they will choose to do business with the company in the future.
  • 56% of Americans feel as though the most effective ways in which a company can portray their empathy during the COVID-19 pandemic is by changing the topics in marketing and advertising to directly address the crisis.

Training Organizations for Empathetic Business Approaches

  • The Sudden Money Institute (SMI) is a company that provides training to financial organizations on how to be more empathetic. SMI runs the Financial Transitionist Institute (FT) that offers training and certifications using online learning, role-playing, guided casework, and more for employees in financial advisory positions.
  • Business Training Works offers “Empathy Skills Training,” as well as a variety of other workshops and courses, that help employees of financial and other business types understand the importance of empathy and how to implement it in the workflow and business processes. This training is in a half-day, in-person format and is available globally, including in the UK.
  • Around 20% of U.S. employers offer their own, in-house empathy training, particularly in management positions. However, this value is expected to increase and potentially double by the year 2026.
  • The California Primary Care Association (CPCA) offers a 4.5 hour in-person workshop called “The Empathy Effect: Countering Bias to Improve Health Outcomes (EE).” This workshop is geared towards the healthcare industry and teaches employees how to convey empathy effectively towards their patients in live situations.
  • In the UK, Empathy Training Ltd. offers courses and training on how to employ empathy in sales, call centers, team projects, and management. There is a separate course for each area, and these can be viewed in detail here.
  • The Empathy Business measures the empathy of a company or brand using a special model. This service has been used by major brands such as Salesforce, PWC, EY, and more to determine where empathy is being portrayed within a given business and how it can be better used to increase performance and customer satisfaction.
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