CONTRIBUTOR
Managing Editor and Podcast Host,
Techstrong

Synopsis

In this interview, Amanda Razani speaks with Matt Swain, head of communication insights and experience at Broadridge, about what customers expect from online experiences and why it should matter to business leaders.

 

Transcript

Amanda Razani: Hello, this is Amanda Razani with Digital CxO. And I’m excited to be here today with Matt Swain. He is the head of communications insights and experience at Broadridge. How are you doing today?

Matt Swain: Doing great, Amanda, thanks for having me.

Amanda Razani: Glad to have you here. Can you share a little bit about what Broadridge does, and your background and experience?

Matt Swain: Yeah, certainly. I’ll start with me just since we started there. As you noted, I lead the communications insights and experience team at Broadridge. I also host a reimagining communications podcast. So I’m kind of a nerd in the communication space, if you will. And for Broadridge, we are a global FinTech leader; we power the the critical infrastructure behind investing, governance and communications. So on that communications point, we deliver more than 7 billion communications on behalf of our clients each year. And it is a quite a robust ecosystem.

Amanda Razani: Wow, that’s a lot. And so going into that, I know y’all recently did a survey. And you had a lot of amazing findings, very insightful findings about consumer spending and customer experience expectations. Can you share a little bit about that? Who were you surveying and like, just some of the stats?

Matt Swain: Yeah, this was our fifth year conducting this research; we surveyed 4000 consumers across North America, and that aligns with census demographics to ensure a statistically relevant sample. What’s really interesting in that is, we’ve been able to ask some of the same questions year over year, and you get some really nice trending over time. For the stats that rose to the top one, we hit on the economic uncertainty theme in this year survey. And we found that nearly two thirds of consumers are cutting spending with companies that don’t meet their CX standards. Now, the problem there is, we also found that 69% of consumers think that most of the companies they do business with need to improve the customer experience they provide. And that’s nearly double the 35%. When we asked that five years ago, it’s been trending steadily upward. And we see that is trending in the wrong direction. Now, tying back to the communications that what we found relative to CX, is that communications are pretty central to the overall expectation or the sentiment. So 61% of consumers judge how innovative a company is based on the communication. And I think that surprises a lot of people that – that when you think customer experience, you’re thinking maybe the other interactions, and those are all important as well. But the communications could represent the most frequent touch point you have; a monthly bill, a statement, you know, those, you know, quarterly updates, those types of things become really critical too, as a point of interaction with that firm.

Amanda Razani: So how can businesses do better at personalizing these communications and giving a better experience, especially considering the economic downturn, and more people are online?

Matt Swain: Yeah, so I think there’s a trust angle to this as well, where we’ve seen; we found that 68% of consumers said that they’ve lost trust in a company after a poor experience or a poor communication. So making better use of the customer data and the insights that you have is really important. Also, talking to your clients, or your customers, or account holders, or whatever they are in your industry is really important – talking to them like you know them. So if there’s a relationship, if that person has a relationship with multiple lines of business within your company, connect those dots for them. We run into a lot of situations where the company has grown over time, or they’ve just kind of been built in silos. And if I have five relationships with that firm, I might have three different portals that I have to log into; sometimes multiple AP experiences. And those dots are not connected. So it doesn’t feel like I’m working with the same company.

Amanda Razani: And as businesses try to improve on their standards here, what are some of the risks if they don’t meet online customer experience expectations?

Matt Swain: Yeah, well, consumers vote with their wallets, and nearly 70% said that they would look elsewhere for similar products or services after two to three negative experiences with the company. It does skew. A Gen Z or millennial respondent is less loyal than a Gen X and a boomer. So boomers are the most loyal. And sometimes it’s also because that, you know, they’ve had so many years with us with certain relationships, but I think that it’s a stickier relationship in that point, in that respect. But data security is also important. We found that 42% of consumers had stopped doing business with a company because of a hack that exposed the customer data. And I think that leads to this – well, there’s a push within every one of our clients to find savings, and it’s really important to not overcorrect. Because then you find yourself losing business due to these cost savings and cost cutting measures. And ultimately, that can be at a greater cost to the organization than the savings that they would have been focused on.

Amanda Razani: So it can be quite troubling for businesses if they don’t figure this out. And you mentioned the different generations; is there are a different way to build upon these relationships with the different ages?

Matt Swain: There can be certainly – there are some generalizations that can be made by by age demographic. At the same time we find interesting, counterintuitive points. So an example would be delivery preferences; how you prefer to interact, engage, how you prefer to receive that content. A common expectation would be that no Gen Zers want print, and all baby boomers are the most likely to hold on to print. Those are, those are generally directionally accurate. But the reality is, we actually find, you know, portions of the Gen Z population that still want print based communications. And it could be because everything else is digital. So if this is an important notice, or bill or statement or something, it gets through the clutter by going in the mail now. But then also from a baby boomer population – there are obviously many tech savvy baby boomers as well that don’t want to be generalized and put into those buckets. So it does require a bit of work from a data modeling perspective and understanding behaviors; not just cutting by age demographics, and making that your decision on how you treat that person.

Amanda Razani: Got it. So let’s talk about some of the latest technology that’s come out in this year. Specifically, we’re hearing a lot about ChatGPT and other generative AI. And so as businesses try to digitally transform and reach a more remote world, do you think that they should be looking at generative AI and some of these other technologies and how can they harness them?

Matt Swain: Yeah, I think they should be focusing on them. The how you can harness them is maybe where, you know, that’s where we take a more cautious approach to productizing something in that space today. But generative AI is certainly all the buzz right now. It’s accelerating and opening up use-cases and applications throughout the business world. We look at it from a consumer perspective, as consumers become more and more accustomed to a chatbot as a tool when interacting digitally with a company. So they’re used to some form of that AI tool now, maybe. But the recent attention on GPT4 and other generative AI tools is going to change how business stakeholders within these companies rethink how they interact with customers, and ultimately, rethink how they can improve experiences. And I’ll give you an example. We are in a sandbox environment. So not productized today, but in a sandbox environment, Broadridge is exploring how generative AI incorporated into our wealth platform can make financial advisors more effective and how they engage with their clients. For instance, I’m doing an investment portfolio review with Amanda tomorrow. Amanda values investing with companies that have strong ESG ratings. What are three things I should tell Amanda about her current portfolio mix and the latest trends in ESG? Then you could say, like, there could be a relationship component to it too, that says, Amanda always talks about hosting this podcast for Digital CxOs but I don’t know what she means. What are five things I should know about? CxOs or podcasting or whatever. And then you know, take it to another level – maybe a more whimsical approach – but Amanda loves country music; write a five verse country song that ties in her love for sustainable investments, podcasting and digital CxOs. So there are definitely ways that we’re looking at how the advisor can leverage the tool to create better investor relationships and frontload some of the work that maybe the other analysts have done in the past, or at least take an initial pass at it. But I will say that with all new technology, Broadridge is carefully considering the data privacy, security, and legal considerations associated with how generative AI would fit into our own product roadmap; but we’re certainly excited about the potential of the technology, how it can be harnessed to best support clients, on their path to delivering next gen communications.

Amanda Razani: Absolutely. That’s a lot of great examples. There are so many ways in which I’m seeing people are using it. And again, being able to utilize it while also, you know, making sure about data and privacy concerns and all the other concerns ethically that come with it. So can you share some examples of companies that have successfully personalized their CX communications and their digital operations?

Matt Swain: So I have one example that probably works well to follow. Let’s follow that track, since I was already talked about wealth as an example. So I’m going to do a little setup to get there, because I think it’s helpful. So if you think about the average investor experience today, over the course of a year, an investor is receiving over 120 communications, and when you account for their alerts, their advisory communications, their statements, their trade conference, their letters, their regulatory, communications, marketing, it’s overwhelming. And how does an investor react? So we were looking at an opportunity to provide a more personalized summary communication with goals, space, performance updates, key activities, recommendations. So imagine these 120 communications, consolidate down into an a monthly communication – not all of them, but many of them could go into a monthly communication that’s an overview of my account, my performance, my goals, what’s happening, what’s next, and a personalized messaging message from my advisor. Now, in the research, we tracked interest in this kind of approach for the last three years, and we’ve seen desire steadily trend up from 61% to 68, to now 74% of consumers; consumers and investors, more specifically, that are looking for this consolidation. So what we did was, we created this product called Wealth and Focus, and it’s a next gen wealth communications experience that takes an investor centric approach, consolidates, aggregates and presents the most important information. But we worked with a client and said, “Why don’t you participate as our pilot partner, because you have similar goals to what we’re trying to do here?” So enhance the print to digital communications experience with content that matters most to investors, empower advisors with solutions that reinforce the value they deliver and make an important impact to their practices, but then also accelerate digital transformation. So once we delivered that new experience to their participating investors, we surveyed them. And these are the results that you were asking for at the beginning, Amanda, but I needed to kind of get us there. And what we found was this better experience or this approach resulted in 88% of respondents saying that they want to receive this type of communication on an ongoing basis. 78% saying that the new account overview experience is better than their usual statement. And then, probably most important, if you deal with email communications at all, we saw a 56% open rate, which is significantly above industry average, in this new communications experience. So as a way of pulling together, the personalization, the investor centric approach, so taking a design thinking approach, and then just in that kind of reorganizing, operationally, how that content was delivered as well. That’s amazing. That’s a great outcome.

Amanda Razani: That’s amazing. That’s a great outcome. So last question; in five years from now, what do you think you see Broadridge doing and where is the customer experience going online?

Matt Swain: Yeah. So I think browsers will be doing a lot of different things. I think, relative to the communication space, you’re going to see, you know, a continued evolution of our communications cloud product, which is a modular based approach to our platform approach to delivering communications experiences. So as something like generative AI becomes a good component of that – of the platform in the future, we just add that module then. So I think you’ll start to see things like generative AI, AI personalized video, you know. Other kind of better data analytics tools and capabilities in reporting. But then, you know, from a consumer perspective or a customer perspective on experience, I think you’re going to see a lot of companies working hard to catch up with the leaders in CX. Say, Amanda, you can like, think about in your personal life, who provides the best experience? I won’t make you answer the question, but oftentimes we get that it’s an Amazon or an Apple or, you know, whoever your favorite experiences come from; then that kind of sets the bar for your expectation for every other company you do business with. And I think that’s the challenge is – there are leaders that have the proverbial blank check, to be delivering on best in class customer experience and the rest, the rest of the companies out there need to figure out how to catch up. And oftentimes they need to do that with a partner. They can’t build their way to that level of experience. They need to find a partner that can help them leapfrog the current state they’re in and transform their communications.

Amanda Razani: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Matt, for coming on today and sharing your insights with us.

Matt Swain: Certainly, thanks so much for having me. Have a great rest of your week.

Amanda Razani: You too.

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