The taste of this new class of customers is at odds with the traditional style of service prevailing in the finance sector. They grew up in a completely digital environment. They have no attachment to the old systems that banks and finance companies have been holding on to for years, despite the wave of new technologies in business and communications.
A 2017 report by Accenture indicated that 71% of financial services consumers are open to using “all-computer-generated support for banking”. It is clear that the majority of consumers are ready to go completely digital.
This possibility presents a problem for the old order-loving companies, and dealing appropriately with the situation means acting decisively now. It is no longer enough to automate customer support with a healthy knowledge base or online live chat ready responses. What we need now is to tailor customer support and the entire customer experience to fit and enhance the increasingly digital customer journey. At the very least, integrating your voice communication tools and customer records, like the Salesforce Cisco phone integration for example, will allow customer service teams to simplify the way they deliver service by ensuring conversation data is captured at every customer touchpoint.
Transforming the entire customer experience from traditional to digital takes a lot of time and work to complete, but incremental changes can still have an impact on customer experience. Financial service providers can start their transformation by bringing these trends and technologies into their customer experience strategy:
Self service, serve yourself
The first point of contact with customer service for most finance consumers is not social media, phone or email. It is actually self service. Over 80% of consumers choose to use a web or mobile self-service application rather than speaking to a customer service representative on the phone. You should not expect the phone facing team to be in the front line of customer service. Customers only turn to their phones when they want to escalate their concerns. Even then, having a CTI solution in place like Salesforce-Cisco phone integration ensures that every customer interaction is recorded in your CRM.
Consumers of financial services prefer self-service because it gives them more control. This means that self-service means that customers are the ones dictating when and where they will interact with the service provider. It also allows consumers more freedom in their financial activities without annoying ads or inaccurate suggestions from CS reps. As customers demand to become more independent from their providers, financial services companies are also becoming more compelled to provide better self-service options via native web applications and automated CS technologies.
Chatbots and virtual assistants
The demand for faster and more efficient services has finally led to this: 85% of customer interactions will be automated by 2020, according to Gartner. Chatbots and intelligent assistants find their way into different sectors, serving different purposes from customer support, marketing, and sales. These bots, powered by artificial intelligence, are used by the world’s largest banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, HSBC (Hong Kong) and SEB (Sweden).
Chatbots enable banks and financial services companies to provide efficient, personalized and responsive service to customers at the lowest cost. Chatbots are available 24/7 and are able to quickly match customer inquiries with solutions. Some are also programmed to receive leads, and the more advanced ones can provide personalized recommendations based on past interactions, customer data, and other factors.
Critics of chatbot technology say these tools lack the empathy of human CS reps. While this is true, we must also realize that chatbots are getting better in this aspect over time. Machine learning algorithms help these virtual assistants learn more about the art of human conversation through experience. With these capabilities, chatbots prove to be adequate in handling basic customer service inquiries, and satisfying consumers with their efficiency and effectiveness.
These days, consumers interact with financial service providers at many touchpoints — from online, to branch, and even on mobile. Omnichannel means connecting all of these touchpoints to create a seamless, consistent, and enjoyable customer experience. In other words, it means allowing customers to move from one point of touch to another without feeling overwhelmed or disconnected.
Crafting a omnichannel experience for customers is not a new trend. Back in 2014, a survey by Forrester actually identified omnichannel banking as one of the top five concerns of financial professionals for transforming business applications. However, many banks and finance companies still lag behind in this area, due to unsustainable organizational and operational divisions between marketing, sales, and customer support.
Banks that want to overcome this problem must change their mindset from product-focused to customer-centric. Placing the customer at the heart of the customer experience question will enable them to see touchpoints more clearly and accurately anticipate consumers’ needs in every interaction. Another important aspect of this is standardizing data between teams and platforms, facilitating the flow of information across channels to ensure customer interactions are not disrupted when they shift activities from saying, making a sales inquiry to addressing a product issue.
Moving to an omnichannel pays off not only in increased customer satisfaction, but can directly lead to increased revenue. The world’s major banks get 50% of their sales from digital channels, proving the importance of digitization to success in the finance sector.
Omnichannel experience is not possible without the integration. All platforms used to interact with customers and manage their data and transactions must be linked to ensure a smoother workflow and service of the highest quality. The key here is to connect the digital applications used to serve finance customers through the banks’ physical websites and customer communication platforms.
Digital integrations have been implemented in the financial services sector, but only few customers (16%) are satisfied with the digital experience offered by their banks. The problem here, again, is that data about customers is not shared across segments in the organization. Each team may do well on its own, but rigid process silos affect the overall customer experience.
The solution to this is to facilitate the flow of information through digital integrations. Many software and applications are now able to integrate disparate systems, allowing finance companies to mix software vendors if they want to. For example, a CTI solution such as Cisco’s Salesforce Phone Integration connects voice communication tools to computers, simplifying many tasks for sales and customer support. There are also specific applications aimed at syncing chat channels or even emails with local banking software.
Infusing customer experience with new financial technologies
With artificial intelligence and more mobile technologies comes more opportunities to personalize the customer experience and make it more pleasant, enjoyable and safe for consumers.
Some of the technologies that financial services firms can explore are:
Biometric Customer ID – Banks and finance companies can now choose to use biometric technology instead of a username and password combination for customer entry and verification into their systems. Various options such as fingerprint, iris, retina, and voice recognition are available. Besides being safer, these technologies are more efficient and easier for consumers to use.
Robo-Advisors – Similar to chatbots, these virtual advisors are powered by machine learning and are viable alternatives to human investment managers. They are commonly used to analyze risk and help consumers manage portfolios.
Internet of Things – With the Internet connected to literally everything, financial transactions will become more fluid and mobile. Verifying your account on your wearable device? Or while driving? You can do it all with the Internet of Things.
banking as a service
Tech companies are leading the way in digital banking experiences, and banks and other traditional financial institutions would do well to learn from them. They can emulate them and build their own, or they can get smarter about it and do it faster – i.e. partner with companies that offer BaaS and BaaP.
Banks working with APIs and BaaS will lead to tangible changes in the way both individual consumers and their customers do their banking.
For consumers, one of the positive aspects is that all accounts can be accessed via a single app, making it easier to conduct transactions. These individual accounts can also be managed on any device because the data will be stored in the cloud. Individuals will also get personalized advice regarding portfolio, stocks and other financing products.
B2B customers benefit even more, as the digitization of finance translates into savings in administrative and infrastructure costs.
Partnering with new digital platforms will allow banks to keep up with the times and provide customers with the elegant mobile experience that has become the norm in the digital age. This may cost a little investment, but it will definitely pay off in the long run.
Financial service providers have to decisively switch gears before they lose touch with their customers and get left behind in the digital age. These trends and technologies are meant to usher in a new era of financial services, one that is more adept at serving digitally-savvy and mobile customers. But this does not mean that banks and finance companies can do without customer service lines and human agents.
To grow long-term, productive relationships with clients, it is essential to cover all bases, from digital to non-digital touchpoints. Phone calls, live chats, and meetings with customers still have a significant impact on the overall customer experience, especially because these interactions involve human representatives from the company. Ultimately, digital experiences serve as a continuity for funding companies to have a personal relationship with their customers.