The way consumers interact with financial institutions is fundamentally and rapidly changing, and this presents a huge opportunity – albeit a challenging one – for retail banks.
While the banking industry is pouring millions of pounds into providing digital customer service platforms to supplement the contact centre, there’s still an inherent missing link in these digital strategies. Typically, the platforms remain disparate, with no brokering mechanism to create a seamless experience between each of them.
In recent years, social media and mobile applications have also thrived. For example, a recent study conducted by Avaya and BT shows that the number of consumers using mobile apps for financial services over the last few years has more than trebled, while web chats have also experienced a significant increase in popularity amongst customers. This has been triggered by an ‘anytime, anywhere’ digital culture driven by consumers and businesses demanding financial management on their own terms. But all these different channels of communication don’t really help either the bank or the customer if they aren’t joined up.
It’s a challenge being felt around the world: the National Australian Bank recently said in a statement, “Everyday our people are exploring how digital technology can be an enabler of a much better customer experience.” While in the Middle East Emirates NBD Bank has gone as far as to implement a biometrics log-in capability, where customers can use a Touch ID on the Emirates NBD Mobile Banking App to securely log into all their accounts.
However, simply providing an app and social media account is not sufficient, nor is it innovative – customers expect it at the very least. Digital disruptors in the banking sector are now taking the next step and using analytics and automation to create value from the data generated through customer interactions across all mediums. Put simply, they are tying various platforms together so they can not only respond and resolve issues more quickly, but take a more proactive approach through predictive data sets that are constantly working in the background.
Say for example a bank or insurer’s customer wants to query a certain change on their account, but doesn’t have the time to call the bank/insurer during business hours. While the company’s mobile app provides some information on the charge, a more personal experience is required so that the customer is assured their account security is maintained. The app should therefore provide the customer with the capacity to request an after-hours call back. Once a representative makes contact, they need to have enough information to respond to the enquiry as quickly as possible, without imposing a lengthy identification or clarification process on the customer. Similarly, the provider should know whether the customer has previously used any social media channels to report on the issue.
Customer Experience Innovation
So how should banks adapt their engagement in order to meet customer demands to be more effective and efficient, while also adhering to regulatory controls, driving business profitability and maintaining that personal, human touch? Much innovation is already taking place around the world which banks could use and as an example and adapt to their own markets.
In the UK, some of the most well-known retail banks are shifting their services by adopting a more customer-centric approach. In local branches, customers are often missing their mortgage appointments because they are unable to access the right person at the right time. In order to tackle this issue, one high-street bank has introduced video-conferencing software on terminals and tablets in private rooms, in-branch. As a result, customers are now able to have a video meeting with any available mortgage advisor whenever they drop into their local branch, regardless of the location or size of the branch. What’s more, the software allows them to scan, send and receive documents in the same room, significantly reducing the time it takes for mortgages to be processed and approved. Not only does the video element provide a more personal, secure and human form of engagement that meets legal regulations, it also creates a much faster and more efficient service ultimately benefiting both the customer and the bank.
Tying It All Together
Achieving this with yesterday’s technologies is extremely difficult, which is why the FSI industry should not rely on old processes to achieve new results, as outdated contact centre and communications platforms weren’t built to support modern interactions. While the data surrounding these interactions may be stored and possibly be relevant at some further point, it can’t be qualified to inform intelligent decision-making. This is why digital transformation has become a critical differentiator.
Most retail banks have already deployed mobile applications that provide product and service information, account management and some transactions, but at the end of the day it’s the overall customer engagement, across each and every channel, that leaves a lasting impression with customers—good or bad.
To keep improving on that impression, banks now need to go beyond omnichannel. It’s time to use analytics to draw insight from all the omnichannel customer interactions and to better understand their needs and preferences for products and services. This is without a doubt the shortest way to offering the personalised experience customers demand today, especially given that there is hardly a bank left that doesn’t offer online and mobile banking, which makes the data-collection process easier than it has ever been. Banking and financial-services providers have more data than any other industry at their disposal – it’s time to make the most of this, for the benefit of customers themselves.