Technology Record - Issue 23: Winter 21/22

108 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om V I EWPO I NT Retaining the human touch in digital banking ÖZ KAN E R ENE R : V E R I PAR K Digital banking channels have grown significantly during the pandemic, but banks must adopt an omnichannel strategy to cater to customers who prefer human assistance for complex transactions 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 “Customers expect banks to provide a channel-agnostic experience that integrates selfservice and assisted services”