This article was originally published at Tenfold.com.
The financial services sector is in for a challenge. By 2020, it’s estimated that digital natives will make up half of the world’s population. These digital natives will not just comprise the new workforce, they will also define the new breed of customers for financial services companies.
The taste of this new class of customers clashes with the traditional mode of service that dominates the finance sector. They grew up in a completely digital environment. They have no attachment to legacy systems that banks and finance companies have been holding onto 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 “entirely computer-generated support for banking services.” Clearly, the majority of consumers are ready to go fully digital.
This prospect presents a problem for legacy system-loving companies, and adequately coping with the situation means decisively acting now. It’s no longer enough to automate customer support through a healthy knowledge base or canned responses to web live chat. What’s needed now is to design customer support and the whole customer experience to suit and enhance an increasingly digital customer journey. At the very least, integrating your voice communication tools and your customer records, like Salesforce Cisco phone integration for example, would allow your customer service teams to streamline the way they provide service by ensuring conversation data is captured at each customer touchpoint.
Transforming the whole customer experience from traditional to digital takes a lot of time and work to complete, but gradual changes can still have an impact on CX. Financial services providers can start their transformation by injecting these trends and technologies into their CX strategy:
The first point of customer service contact for most finance consumers is not social media, the phone, or email. It’s actually self-service. More than 80% of consumers choose using a web or mobile self-service app against talking to a customer service rep on the phone. You shouldn’t expect your phone-facing team to be on 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 makes sure that each customer interaction is recorded in your CRM.
Self-service is preferred by financial services consumers because it gives them more control. That is, self-service means customers dictate when and where they will interact with their provider. It also lets consumers have more freedom over their financial activities without disruptive ads or not-so-subtle suggestions from CS reps. As customers demand to become more independent of their providers, financial services companies also become more compelled to provide better self-service options via native web apps and automated CS technologies.
Chatbots and virtual assistants
The demand for faster, more efficient services has eventually led to this: 85% of customer interactions will be automated by 2020, according to Gartner. Chatbots and smart assistants are finding their way in various verticals, serving various purposes from customer support, marketing, and sales. These robots, powered by artificial intelligence, are used by the biggest banks in the world like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, HSBC (Hong Kong) and SEB (Sweden).
Chatbots enable banks and financial service companies to deliver efficient, personalized and responsive service to customers at a minimum cost. Chatbots are available 24/7, and are capable of matching customer queries quickly to solutions. Some are also programmed to take in leads, and the most advanced ones can make personalized recommendations based on previous interactions, customer data, and other factors.
Detractors of chatbot technology say that these tools lack the empathy of human CS reps. While that is true, we should also recognize that chatbots improve on this aspect over time. Machine learning algorithms help these virtual assistants learn more about the art of human conversation from experience. With such capabilities, chatbots prove to be sufficient in handling basic customer service queries, pleasing consumers with their efficiency and effectiveness.
These days, consumers interact with their financial services providers in a multitude of touchpoints–from online, to the branch, and even on mobile. Omnichannel service means connecting all these touchpoints to create a seamless, consistent and pleasant experience for customers. Put another way, it means letting customers move from one touchpoint to another without feeling a disruption or disconnection.
Crafting an omnichannel experience for customers isn’t a new trend. As early as 2014, a Forrester survey already established omnichannel banking as one of the top five concerns of finance professionals for business app transformation. Yet, many banks and finance companies still lag in this area, owing 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-centric to customer-centric. Putting the customer at the core of their CX question will enable them to see touchpoints more clearly and accurately anticipate the consumers’ needs in every interaction. Another crucial aspect to this is unifying data among teams and platforms, easing the flow of information across channels to ensure that customer interactions aren’t broken when they shift activities from say, making a sales inquiry to addressing a product problem.
Going omnichannel pays off not just in increasing customer satisfaction, but can directly result in higher revenues. The world’s top banks derive 50% of their sales from digital channels, proving the importance of digitization for success in the finance sector.
An omnichannel experience isn’t possible without integration. All the platforms used to interact with customers and manage their data and transactions should be linked to ensure the smoothest workflow and the highest quality service. The key here is connecting digital apps used to serve finance consumers with physical bank locations and customer communication platforms.
Digital integrations have been implemented in the financial services sector, but only a minority of customers (16%) are satisfied with the digital experience provided by their banks. The problem here is, again, that data about customers isn’t shared across segments in the organization. Each team may be doing well on its own, but the stiff siloing of operations affects the overall experience of the customer.
The solution to this is easing the flow of information via digital integrations. Various software and apps are now capable of integrating disparate systems, letting finance companies mix software vendors if they want to. For instance, a CTI solution like Salesforce Cisco phone integration connects voice communication tools to computers, streamlining many tasks for sales and customer support. There are also specific apps that target syncing chat channels or even emails with local banking software.
Infusing CX with new financial technologies
With AI and more mobile technology comes more opportunities to customize CX and make it more enjoyable, pleasant and safer for consumers.
Some technologies that financial services companies can explore are:
- Biometric-based customer ID – Banks and finance companies can now opt to use biometrics technology instead of the username-password combination for customer entry and verification into their systems. Various options are available such as fingerprint, iris, retina and voice recognition. Besides being more secure, these technologies are more efficient and easier to use for consumers.
- Robo-advisors – Similar to chatbots, these virtual advisers are powered by machine learning and are viable substitutes for human investment managers. They are usually used to analyze risks and aid consumers in portfolio management.
- Internet of Things – With the internet literally connecting everything, finance transactions will become more fluid and mobile. Checking your account on your wearable? Or while driving? You can do all that with IoT.
Technology companies are leading the way in digital banking experiences, and banks and other traditional financial institutions would do better to learn from them. They could emulate them and build their own, or they can be smarter about this and do this the faster way–that is, partner with companies offering BaaS and BaaP.
Banks working with APIs and BaaS will result in concrete changes in the way both individual consumers and business customers do their banking.
For consumers, one upside would be that all accounts can be accessed via one app, making it easier to do transactions. Managing these individual accounts can also be done on any device because data would be stored in the cloud. Individuals will also get personalized advice regarding portfolio, stocks, and other finance products.
B2B customers benefit even more, as the digitalization of finance translates to savings on administrative and infrastructure costs.
Partnering with new digital platforms will allow banks to catch up with the times and provide customers with the sleek, mobile experience that has been made the norm by the digital age. This may cost a bit of investment, but it will definitely pay off in the long-term.
Financial services 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 age of financial services, one that is more adept at serving digitally-savvy and mobile customers. That doesn’t mean, however, that banks and finance companies can do without their customer service lines and human agents.
To cultivate productive long-term relationships with customers, it is necessary to cover all the bases, from the digital to non-digital touchpoints. Phone calls, live conversations, and meetings with customers still have a high impact on the overall CX, especially so because these interactions involve human representatives from the company. Ultimately, the digital experiences serve as continuities of the personal connection finance companies make with their customers.
About the author
Chris Woodard is VP of Growth and Marketing teams at Tenfold where we help sales, marketing, and other customer-facing teams take control of their customer interactions — to provide the best customer experience, and maximize revenue.