Retaining the human touch in digital banking

Retaining the human touch in digital banking

Banks must adopt an omnichannel strategy to cater to customers who prefer human assistance  

Elly Yates-Roberts |

The Covid-19 outbreak and the resulting restrictions forced banks to close physical branches, compelling customers to shift to digital banking channels.

As customers shifted online, so did customer service. In fact, digital channels became the main way for financial institutions to communicate with their customers. Pushing customers towards digital channels was also appealing for organisations because they are more cost effective.  

Customers of financial institutions have now learned to expect a digital-first strategy. But often, the issue with digital-first approaches is that they do not put the customer first. Empowering customers with digital banking tools and self-service functionalities should not mean banks abandon them to self-serve and sift through mountains of information to find what is most relevant. Not only does this approach cause banks to lose communication with customers, but it also leads to consumers feeling frustrated when digital channels do not allow them to talk to their bank on demand. 

Customers’ expectations are higher than ever when it comes to digital banking, but new data from Gartner has revealed that most still prefer to connect with humans via physical and assisted channels when it comes to banking, especially for high-value transactions. For example, customers demand one-on-one conversations to ensure clarity and understanding when applying for large loans, purchasing a home or starting a business. Consequently, these products are best sold in person, either over a video call or in the branch setting. 

Following months of isolation, customers also need social encounters, so they are looking for a balance between online and physical experiences. Hence, they are switching between channels more often than before. That’s why every financial institution should be preparing for customers to ask the following question in 2022 and beyond: “Can I please speak to someone?” 

Customers increasingly expect banks to provide a channel-agnostic experience that integrates self-service and assisted services. To address customers’ complicated financial needs, banks must implement an omnichannel approach that seamlessly incorporates digital and physical channels. Here, the objectives for banks must be to make all the functionalities of physical branches available online and to bridge digital services with human support to demonstrate that they are attentive to their customers’ requirements. 

Financial institutions can enhance the digital experience by giving customers access to real-life interactions via technologies such as messaging applications, dedicated direct connect buttons, video, and front-end chat. VeriPark is planning to develop a widget that will enable customers to click a “can I speak with someone?” button on their mobile banking app when they are experiencing an issue and choose to initiate a conversation with a chatbot, call the contact centre or book an appointment with a relationship manager.  

This example demonstrates that rather than being implemented to simply move customers to low-cost channels, digital technology should be used to lead them through the most effective customer journey available. For example, if a customer discovers a transaction on their credit card statement that they do not recognise or believe is erroneous, they can initiate a dispute through their mobile app or online banking channel. However, if they contact an assisted channel two days later, they usually have to repeat their story.  

At VeriPark, we believe that customers should only need to share their story once. This necessitates banks to have an omnichannel strategy that merges digital and assisted channels under one umbrella with a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Banks achieve parity when they implement an omnichannel approach to contact centre, mobile and web channels because they can offer customers the same exceptional service and functionality regardless of which contact point or channel they prefer to use. 

Any customer appointments, complaints or service requests that are filed via an omnichannel platform are routed to the bank’s CRM system, which consolidates client interactions across all channels in one location. CRM systems provide agents with precise information on a customer’s transaction history, preferences and complaints before they meet in person or on the phone, so the customer does not have to repeat their story. Having access to all the information in a single customer view means the bank agent spends considerably less time preparing for a face-to-face meeting with the customer, making it much easier to respond immediately to any service request and keep them satisfied. 

Banks now have the opportunity to reinvent themselves and revamp customer service. To achieve this, banks must shift from a ‘transaction-first’ models to a ‘customer-first’ approach. Moving to this customer-centric strategy has several benefits, including enhanced customer experience and satisfaction, as well as greater loyalty and retention.  

VeriPark has assisted several customers in focusing on the most important aspects of the customer experience, resulting in a higher level of service and tangible outcomes. We incessantly enrich our channel offerings with the data and insights from our live clients. When we spot customer challenges, we fix them in a way that incorporates customer concerns, such as security or service level commitments, into our digital channel products so we can offer our customers the best digital apps.  

Özkan Erener is CEO of VeriPark 

This article was originally published in the Winter 21/22 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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