As financial institutions dig into the complex process of recovery, one truth is abundantly clear: They need to adapt to the "new normal". This requires businesses, across all sectors of the economy, to be bold, show resilience under great uncertainty and accelerate their pace of digital transformation. It's a sentiment shared by Metin Demirel of AKSigorta, one of Turkey's leading insurance companies, in our latest interview with financial services industry game changers.
Q: How has the pandemic affected the insurance business?
Let's be clear; Covid-19 is more than a health crisis. It is transforming businesses and even entire economies and societies across the globe. The insurance sector is not immune to these changes.
In April and May, we had lockdowns and travel restrictions. As such, motor insurance claims dropped sharply, along with car sales. Then, in June, our economic life bounced back with more car travel than usual, as people were cautious about using public transport. Governments also introduced stimulus packages, such as low cost loans and low interest rates, so we saw car sales jump like never before.
Now, we are seeing car sales go down again from the highs we experienced in the early summer. This is just one example of the rollercoaster times we are living in. It's challenging, but with agile decision making and a strong focus on building relationships with our agents, third parties and employees, we are making it work.
Q: Covid-19 put a spotlight on insurers, do you think it is a wake-up call to transform digitally and improve customer service?
Yes – although, at AKSigorta, we already use the latest technology to support our agents. Customers want their claims and queries handled quickly and effectively so it's essential insurers have fast, accurate and personalized digital offerings. We're well ahead on that score, thanks to our digital assistant, Ada.
Ada already handles around 10% of our operations. That's over two million interactions in the last year and this year it'll be much more than that. Ada is helping us, and our agents, stay agile and responsive to customers' needs.
We've also been using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for over three years and it's extremely effective. Our business has doubled and our SLAs have improved dramatically. Yet, our employee numbers have stayed about the same. By automating many processes we have effectively created the equivalent of an additional 100 virtual employees – and that has given us huge leverage during the Covid crisis.
We have used that leverage to continue to improve our offer to the 15,000 insurance agents, brokers and banks across Turkey that use our services. Although, as an insurer, we have limited direct contact with our end customers. Instead, our focus is always on how we can support our distribution channels.
Agents have close relationships with their customers; they are like family. They understand exactly how to support and communicate with customers during a crisis. For example, if a customer is involved in a traffic accident, they call their agent who usually deals with the repair shop and takes care of everything.
It's essential that we provide an excellent service to all our distribution partners. That allows them to give the end customer a good experience. It's a kind of triangle.
We're also mindful that agents don't just work with one insurance company. They'll work with at least five and maybe ten. They can easily move customers from one insurance company to another, so they'll use the insurer that offers the most efficient and convenient service.
Q: Do you think we'll see more insurers pushing for regulators to allow digital signatures to deliver end-to-end digital experiences?
In the Turkish market, the regulations surrounding end-to-end digital experiences are quite flexible and many insurance claims are already handled digitally. In the future, restrictions on cloud utilization could have an impact. I think this is an area regulators could focus on.
Q: Covid-19 is changing many people's attitude to how and where they work. How do you see the future of work?
I'm responsible for retail underwriting, digital operations and IT at AKSigorta and we have been working very effectively from home since mid March. Thanks to Microsoft Teams, we've found that we can all be in a virtual room together and stay well connected. This has helped us to become more productive than when we worked in the office. We've also become more efficient by using our digital assistant for some of our internal operations.
The pandemic forced us all to work from home. But, we took an innovative, agile approach and combined our teams into squads. When we worked in cubicles in the office, it was actually more difficult to work in an agile way because that set up was designed for hierarchical organizations.
Our employees have really embraced remote working. Commuting, especially in big cities like Istanbul, is a challenge and it's inefficient. Even waiting around for the elevator in a high-rise office creates inefficiencies.
Remote working is also a big motivator for employees. They enjoy working in a less hierarchical way. Now, we are all on Microsoft Teams, everyone can do their job effectively and no one worries about whether someone is a director or a manager.
Q: How has VeriPark helped you to during these challenging times?
We have been working with VeriPark for many years, especially on CRM. Although we work with distribution channels, we still need to monitor our customer touch points. Car repair shops, for example, act on our behalf and the service they provide to customers affects our brand reputation.
When we implemented VeriPark's CRM solution, VeriTouch, we integrated more than 20 partners and even outsourced part of our call center. This has been a huge help to us, especially during the Covid crisis. The call center service is amazing and I was particularly impressed by how smoothly they transitioned to home working; VeriPark's tools definitely helped with that.
Q: What are the future plans for AKSigorta in a post-Covid-19 world?
I believe this is going to be a new world. We will not be returning to how things were before and the businesses that adapt will be a great success. Those that can't adapt will probably not survive.
AKSigorta is adopting an agile working environment because it is the right fit for this new world. That means working remotely on a flexible schedule. We are already working with a consultancy to plan how the whole company will work like this from now on.
Working in an agile way is the key to future success. Covid-19 is accelerating our digital transformation and it will bring new products, processes, and customer and employee experiences. Silos and hierarchies are the old world and, even though insurance is a very legacy heavy industry, we should not try to go back to the old way of working.
Q: What do you think should be the key priority for insurance companies in this new world?
We are investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, especially on the pricing side. Insurance pricing is challenging since you are giving a price for something that is not certain. And, you need to segment customers to give them a fair risk price.
We have already started to see the benefits of this investment during the Covid crisis. By applying AI we can reduce our prices and improve customer experience with faster decision making. But, crucially it also means we can constantly monitor and adapt our pricing to increase our market share and profit.
If you would like read more about the CRM digital transformation partnership between AKSigorta and VeriPark, you may find this case study interesting.
Would you like to find out more? If so, get in touch with us!
You may have seen the recent meme that asks: 'Who led the digital transformation of your company - the CEO, CTO or COVID-19'? Of course, everyone answers 'COVID-19'. There's an element of truth combined with irony; the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, particularly in retail banking.
The pandemic isn't over and it's impossible to predict exactly how the retail banking landscape will look as the world, slowly and unevenly, emerges from lockdown. But, we're likely to be dealing with an era of uncertainty, social distancing and economic disruption for some time. Banks are juggling multiple priorities, including managing revenue and low interest rates alongside increasing demands from customers who are changing their behaviors as they deal with their own financial pressures.
How you deal with these challenges will not only define the future of your bank's brand; it will significantly affect your customers, employees and the wider economy. Business planning in this uncertain environment is incredibly difficult. But, there has never been a more important time for banks to embrace the opportunities offered by digital transformation.
Here are 6 strategies retail banks can act on right now, to support their customers and ensure they are well-placed to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.
1. Develop a 360 degree view of the customer
Understanding your customers, showing empathy and providing personalized and COVID-19 sensitive customer service is essential. As this crisis is affecting people differently, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Some groups will be feeling much more vulnerable than others.
With a 360 degree view of the customer, banks can see the full customer interaction history and have an understanding of the entire context of the customer relationship. When banks know more about their customers and their needs, they can communicate more effectively, nurture longer, more valuable customer relationships.
2. Embrace a digital/mobile first strategy
There's no doubt COVID-19 has already driven a rise in online and mobile banking and a fall in branch visits. Delivering an outstanding digital customer experience is now a major differentiator and competitive advantage for banks. Research from McKinsey has revealed that customers who are highly satisfied with their digital experience are two-and-a-half times more likely to open new accounts with their existing bank.
As customers use branches less, banks will need to become experts in digital customer acquisition, cross-sell, upsell and servicing. For many, this will involve a major shift from purely transactional digital banking apps to a more engaging, customer centric approach. Digital customers need advice and support with managing their personal finances, just as much as branch customers.
3. Win customers with tailored product recommendations
Banks have an opportunity to develop products that can help their customers through this crisis. For example, a low interest loan issued at speed via a digital lending platform will be a lifeline for many customers. An effective omni-channel CRM platform will alert banking agents and advisers to a relevant Next Best Action (NBA) based on individual customer histories and transactions. This avoids banks being perceived as distant or insensitive and trying to take advantage of the crisis.
4. Redesign branches as digital advice hubs
Customer behavior is shifting. They have broadly welcomed the convenience of managing their finances through online and mobile channels. However, the in-branch experience is still one of the biggest drivers of both customer satisfaction and sales.
As a result of COVID-19, customers will be more hesitant about visiting branches without the proper social distancing requirements in place. But, digital branches that offer self-service or assisted channels, particularly no-touch ATMs with QR code scanning, will thrive. In addition, many customers will welcome face-to-face advice for high-value services such as mortgages and investments and branch advisers are ideally placed to educate and inform customers about using digital channels.
5. Adopt remote or hybrid working to keep employees safe
During lockdowns banks moved swiftly and efficiently to remote working. With so much uncertainty, it is vital to ensure employees have the support and technology to continue operating remotely. Banks will always need to be ready to adapt to new risks, such as if renewed spikes of the virus lead to more restrictions.
Remote working knows no borders. With VeriPark's branch automation solution VeriBranch, banks can provide their employees with the necessary infrastructure to make sure they are equipped with everything they need in a remote work environment. The solution ensures streamlined, reliable access. Bank tellers can execute transactions such as loan origination, account origination and transfers. Relationship Managers and advisors can continue engaging customers and provide personalized financial planning services, all while working remotely.
6. Keep an eye on the future of the digital customer journey
Visionary banks are always looking at ways to improve the customer journey. That includes assessing the potential of new channels, such as chatbots or WhatsApp. Chatbots, for example, now have both transactional and conversational capabilities and enable banks to offer 24/7 services to boost customer loyalty and sales. WhatsApp is one of the most popular instant messaging applications in the world and has the potential for banking customers to access transactional support and get fast answers to their questions.
Reimagining the banking experience with digital as the default channel
COVID-19 has become the catalyst for digital transformation acceleration in just a few months. We believe this will continue as retail banks rapidly transform themselves into truly effective digital organizations.
The future banking landscape is likely to include new digital strategies for everything from customer engagement to remote working. Physical interaction was once the default option. Now, in most instances, digital will be the default channel.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed customer behavior and banking operations. Some of those shifts are likely to be permanent. For example, the latest McKinsey global consumer sentiment survey shows that bank customers, in just about every country, have significantly increased their use of online and mobile banking for day-to-day transactions, such as paying bills, rather than visiting a branch.
As parts of the world start to tentatively emerge from the initial stage of this crisis, what does the future hold for those bank branches? To answer that, many banks are now urgently looking at how to optimize their branches to give customers the advisory services they value. Based on the feedback we've had from our international bank customers, we have identified five key strategies.
1. The branch isn't dead, but it needs to be re-born
The number of branch visits is likely to increase as lockdown restrictions are eased. However, it's impossible to say by how much. Some people will be more risk-averse than others and not return to branches at all.
But, bank branches are still relevant and valued by many customers. There's also likely to be pent-up demand for face-to-face advisory services. With social distancing being the 'new normal', branches will need to look and feel different.
Branch re-designs will probably involve more self-service terminals for customers. We do not foresee a rush to return to glass screens between customers and banking advisors, although it is a possibility for cash transactions. However, physical distancing of customers, and between customers and bank staff, is a must.
Banks will have to adopt queue management systems to ensure people do not gather in groups in their branches. Timed appointments with an individual advisor are an effective way of organizing this process. Customers could even arrange those appointments in advance via their mobile banking app, completely remotely and contactless – and track them in the app, in the branch or outside, limiting the need to wait physically in the branch to be served.
Good hygiene and respect for other people's safe spaces will be the order of the day. We are likely to see branch staff work stations spaced further apart (probably at least 3-5 meters). Advisors and customers meeting at these 'isolated islands' will need hand sanitizers if they have to deal with any paperwork but, ideally, branches will move more towards authorization via biometrics, mobile, card or PINs.
2. A true omni-channel approach – with more efficient use of time spent in branch
Customers will still want to use the services of the branches, as they demand human interactions for major financial decisions in their lives or for complex financial matters. They want to get personalized advice and discuss the long-term and higher priority products, such as investments and mortgages. But that doesn't mean digital experience should be left at the branch door. It's unlikely they want to spend a lot of time on administrative tasks.
For that reason, banks need to adapt their processes and give their branch advisors the tools to communicate with the customer both digitally and during the branch visit. For remote communications, the customer should be able to use secure channels for electronic document signing, document upload and electronic communication with 3rd parties.
For on-site branch visits, branch staff should focus on productive and efficient meetings with the customer - in an advisory role – and minimize the time spent on filling out forms, printing and signing. All administrative tasks should be fully digitalized and the need for personal contact and paper documentation for sales and servicing tasks minimized.
When customers can use digital channels to change their address, loan duration or card limit and can simply upload notary documentation for a mortgage, regulatory T&Cs and consent management forms, it frees up time for staff to focus on high-value interactions.
In terms of branch roles, this will mean a switch from cashiers to sophisticated advisors, supported by the ability to communicate, maintain and deliver services to clients remotely. Banks that will manage this – and hide the complexity with a powerful branch automation solution – will be the winners.
3. The acceleration of online and contactless payments
The pandemic has already accelerated the transition to online shopping and contactless payments in physical shops. In Mastercard's global consumer survey, 79% said they now use contactless payments for everyday shopping, citing safety and cleanliness as their reason. This trend is definitely here to stay; almost all (74%) said they will continue to use contactless after the pandemic is over.
Banks can take this opportunity to increase card penetration and usage by communicating these health benefits to customers. You may also need to reassure some customers of the security and reliability of card payments, both online and in physical shops. This might involve reviewing complicated 3D secure procedures (7-10 digit codes are not customer friendly and don't increase security significantly).
Most customers find it more convenient to deal with card servicing issues, such as increasing their limit or changing their PIN, in an online or mobile banking app. Similarly, more SME customers are likely to switch to electronic or online invoicing and banks will need to support quick and straightforward payments of electronic invoices.
We will continue to see this significant shift in behavior with more people expressing a desire for contactless payments. However, in times of crisis, many people rely on a basic reserve of cash at home for emergencies. As such, banks still need the infrastructure to support cash withdrawals.
4. Dealing with cash in branches
There will still be a need for cashiers and cash handling in branches, which means banks will need to adapt to reduce the risk of infection. In high-frequency locations this is likely to mean installing more cash deposit ATMs or dedicating one or more places for highly automated, minimal touch cash handling, possibly separated by safety screens. In smaller branches, it may be possible to equip all advisors with mobile safes.
Counting large cash deposits after branch hours will also become the norm. This will require additional security, such as having two team members count the cash and verify the amounts while under camera surveillance. Staff will need to maintain strict cleaning disciplines, using plastic gloves, sanitizers and masks during all cash transactions and hand washing after each cash handling operation.
5. Large presence with enough space in branches
Ideally, banks should still be present in high footfall areas to serve their customers, but with a high level of branch automation and more space between working places, more privacy and a higher sense of safety while delivering the advice.
This should not mean less branches or less coverage – customers will still expect their bank to be conveniently reachable and branches are an important part of the mix for high-value products.
In summary, successful branches will be those where customers and employees feel safe. The branch of the future is still likely to involve advisors serving customers, but in a well-spaced, ventilated environment with strict hygiene standards. The smart use of technology to maintain social distancing, while making customers feel welcome, will be a key factor in that success.
You can find out more about how banks are adapting to the 'new normal' as COVID-19 lockdown measures start to ease in our interview with Esra Beyzadeoglu of Alternatif Bank.
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According to research from McKinsey, traditionally banks take an average of three to five weeks to make a corporate or SME loan decision. And then, it takes about three months before the company receives the cash. During this coronavirus crisis, with so many businesses in distress, such a slow and tedious lending process is unworkable and unacceptable.
A digital lending revolution is already underway
Corporate and SME clients need loan decisions in minutes and cash in a matter of days. Banks need to radically speed-up their eligibility decision-making process to attract and retain business clients and stay competitive. Embracing digital lending is no longer a 'nice-to-have' future-focused project; it is a 'must-have' capability for all banks competing in the business banking market.
An end-to-end digital journey
VeriPark's Digital Lending solution enables banks to support corporate and SME customers when they need it most. The platform offers a completely paperless process. Business customers can initiate loans, easily upload documents (such as bank statements and company financial reports) and digital signatures, and verify their ID smoothly through the digital portal.
Customers can use the Loan Calculator to select the amount and duration of the loan and instantly find out the monthly installment amount. As soon as their application lands in the lending portal, it flows to the back office and triggers an 'approve or decline' decision engine. If it's approved, the customer reviews the agreement, provides an e-signature and uploads all the relevant documents to the portal. These are sent immediately to the back office to complete the loan set-up and disbursement process.
From loan origination to decision and disbursement - in just 20 minutes
OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology helps banks to handle large volumes of loan documents, such as ID photos, swiftly and accurately. In fact, once the customer has all the documents to hand, the whole process can be completed in around 20 minutes. What's more, the platform is available on tablets and mobile devices, so there is no need for busy and anxious business owners to go to a branch.
Our digital lending portal connects to multiple credit checking organizations. Banks can also connect it to their CRM systems to check existing customer data. This enables them to automate underwriting and loan approvals according to their own defined credit policies and business rules. If the customer has selected 'Instant Disbursement' during the onboarding process, they will receive their approved loan via the portal as soon as the sale is complete.
Digital lending delivers efficiency gains as well as faster and better quality risk decisions for banks. Business customers will also benefit from a smoother, less stressful customer journey. During this rapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation, banks will need these capabilities to attract, onboard and retain corporate and SME clients.
This pandemic is forcing companies across the globe to rethink their strategies. In particular, it is forcing banks to speed up and implement new digital transformation initiatives. Digital lending is one way banks can help keep businesses running as smoothly as possible during this crisis and be better prepared for the recovery phase.
As part of our 'Interview with a change-maker' series, we have interviewed Esra Beyzadeoglu, Executive Vice President Information Technologies, Digital Banking and Operations with Turkey's Alternatif Bank.
How has COVID-19 affected Alternatif Bank so far?
Esra: Everyone in banking has been talking about disruptive digital transformation for years. But this pandemic has mobilized us to bring about major changes in a matter of a few short weeks. So far, for Alternatif Bank, our focus has been on protecting the health of our employees and customers while continuing to provide uninterrupted banking services.
We had already been innovating and investing in our digital channels and infrastructure before the pandemic. That meant we were able to maintain reliable banking services, even during curfews when our branches were physically closed.
How did you manage the switch to remote working?
Esra: It took a great deal of planning and preparation. We had our first COVID-19 business continuity meeting in February, and immediately started taking all the recommended hygiene measures. We also started getting our remote working model ready.
Our priority was to ensure all our branch and head office employees had secure remote connections. We postponed all face-to-face training, events and business trips and started holding meetings online. Our CEO has since held regular digital meetings to help bring all our teams together.
The effort has been worth it because there is nothing more important than keeping our people safe. Within a few days of the first notified Covid-19 case in Turkey, over half of our headquarters team was working from home. We increased this rate to 95% for head office and 50% for the branches at the beginning of April.
Currently, we have 98% of head office teams and 60% of our branch teams working at home. That means we only need to have four people physically present in our head office. Even our Treasury and Customer Communication Center people have been working from home.
This has been a huge and important change but we did it in just 2-3 weeks. Looking back, I am very proud of all our employees for making it such a great success. We are now all working to prepare for a safe and gradual return.
How did you continue serving your customers during this crisis?
Esra: We have served our retail and corporate customers throughout this time with online and mobile banking, as well as our Customer Communication Center. Our branches remained open, but with reduced hours. We've also been talking to and helping our customers deal with the financial implications of this crisis.
For example, we have increased the daily ATM withdrawal limit and made online and mobile EFT and wire transfer transactions free of charge until the end of June. Retail and corporate customers have had the opportunity to postpone credit, interest and installment payments. We are also participating in the Check Payment Support Loan and Economic Stability Shield Loan Support packages commissioned by the Treasury and the Credit Guarantee Fund.
While this era has shown the importance of investing in digital channels, I believe it has also taught all of us lessons that go beyond digitalization.
Do you think COVID-19 will change customer behavior in the long term?
Esra: With social distancing people have been accessing so much more from home. Everything from shopping and cultural events to business meetings and talking to loved ones. We've also seen a lot of new digital banking customers and I think this will continue.
We're investing in making our digital experience even more user-friendly to ensure customers feel supported. We're also sharing written and visual informational content so they can bank safely and confidently from home. I think brands that offered personalized customer support even before the pandemic were already one step ahead; for example, we were one of the first banks to offer digital customer meetings.
Customer experience is one of the most dynamic and vibrant topics in banking and it is now even more important to make customers feel valued and cared for. We're continuing to work closely with all our banking channels, and our consultant bankers, to achieve this. I believe that providing a rich banking service with value-added consultancy and remote access will be a distinctive approach in the long run.
Things won't be the same as before. We are seeing more customers preferring our digital services, such as e-signatures for applications. Also, contactless payments will be more important. Virtual cards, and the ability to manage them through digital channels, are now one of our most valued customer services.
How have you been helping your older customers or those who were used to visiting branches?
Esra: We have connected our customers aged 65 and over, and other high risk groups, directly to a customer representative at our Customer Communication Center through their registered numbers in the bank system. We've also prepared short videos to show them how to transfer money and how to get passwords for digital and mobile banking channels.
Do you offer digital onboarding to your customers?
Esra: We launched end-to-end digital customer acquisition in 2018. The only part of the process that is not digital is that we require a wet signature which we collect by courier. Once the customer has a deposit account with us, they benefit from a huge range of our services regardless of their channel preference. One of our big differentiators is that our digital customers have their own portfolio manager, just like customers who come to us through the branch channel.
How are you supporting your corporate customers during this time?
Esra: We are keeping in close contact and responding quickly to their requests for finance, credit and restructuring. We are also ensuring our exporters can access information on the topics they need, such as letters of credit, loans, letters of guarantee and taxes, without going to a branch. They can simply call our Foreign Trade Consultants at our Customer Communication Center; in fact this expertise is available to support all international trading companies, whether they bank with us or not.
How do you see the future of branch banking post-COVID-19?
Esra: I think branches will continue to play an important role. At Alternatif Bank, we have been optimizing our branch network for the last two years, making location changes to ensure we provide efficient services without reducing the overall number of our branches.
For example, one of our most important digital transformation projects has been Onboarding and Multiple Sales. This has reduced the time taken for many customer acquisition and product sales processes from 3-4 days to just 8-9 minutes. We redesigned our branch structure to ensure they can play a full role in this. Many banks have been trying to make similar changes in recent years and I think COVID-19 will accelerate this trend to more digital branches.
How did VeriPark help you to accelerate your digital transformation journey?
Esra: VeriPark has been a valued strategic business partner both before and during this pandemic. We have loved working on many successful projects together. For example, we have built an award-winning infrastructure for all of our digital channels with VeriPark's framework.
We have also renewed our retail and corporate internet banking and mobile banking channels with the latest technology, and we achieved that together in just one year. We built our CRM program from the ground up; we are currently running a pilot system, which we will analyze and develop further. We are also about to start our Robotic Process Automation (RPA) journey with VeriPark.
If you would like to know more about how VeriPark helped Alternatif Bank to create one single framework to drive consistent journeys through digital and assisted channels, you may find this case study interesting.
Covid-19 has disrupted many of the long-established norms of the banking world. In just a few weeks it has forced customers to manage more of their finances online. In response, financial institutions are having to make major changes to the way they work.
Your industry has already proved capable of meeting these huge challenges. In just a short time you have radically transformed how – and where – your employees work. In the process, you have demonstrated that their health and wellbeing, and that of their families and your customers, comes first.
You've ensured branches are fully stocked with face masks, gloves and sanitizers. You've re-scheduled business hours and restricted customer numbers to allow for safe social distancing. Most importantly, you've supported your customers and employees through a rapid pivot to more online, mobile and call center banking.
The road ahead feels uncertain but one thing is clear; banks will need to continue to adapt as the situation progresses. During these difficult times, you still have to meet your customers' need for uninterrupted banking services. You will also need to support your corporate and SME clients to ensure business continuity and help keep the world economy going.
Keep calm and work from home
To achieve these aims, banks are reimagining their operational business models. Millions of your branch and contact center employees are already providing customer services from their homes. This has been a massive achievement in such a short time.
It's likely you will need to continue to develop these remote-working capabilities. A Harvard professor has warned that many physical distancing measures may need to be in place intermittently until 2022. Under these circumstances, banks will need to scale up their remote access technology and become adept at managing remote teams.
Safeguarding customer data will require up-to-date security patches and information security protocols that are just as effective as your branch systems. But, home working has positives as well as challenges. Research from Stanford Business School suggests home working boosts productivity and job satisfaction, as employees are more engaged and less distracted.
If this crisis results in sustained improvements in work-life balance, it could also be good for banks' business models. It might reduce dependence on high-cost office space and make it easier to attract and retain talented people. But, the crisis also highlights the importance of fast and seamless digital capabilities.
Re-creating the bank branch at home
Increasingly, bank employees are expected to provide all the services available in a branch – while working from home with just a laptop or tablet. They will need support and a range of technology solutions to do this securely. That's where VeriPark's integrated branch automation solution, VeriBranch excels. By using VeriBranch to directly connect to back-office systems, employees can quickly and easily look up customer account information. This empowers bank tellers to execute efficient transactions, such as loan origination, account origination and transfers, even remotely. Relationship managers and advisors can also provide friendly and personalized financial planning services, all while working from home.
A CRM solution like VeriTouch adds even more convenience for your employees. Its Unified Front End (UFE) consolidates the user interface of all banking functionalities into one application - with one login and one navigation menu. With standardized processes and guided selling tools, your employees can continue serving their customers efficiently, make personalized recommendations and deliver relevant and differentiated offers wherever they are.
Digital banking used to be a matter of personal convenience; now it's also a part of employee safety. By implementing VeriChannel, an omni-channel delivery solution, banks can offer their customers the convenience of banking without physical interaction. They can engage with them through their preferred channels whether it's online, mobile, via a video call or a contact center without losing the human touch. This way, they can skip a trip to the branch and your employees can continue working from home.
Will we ever return to banking as normal?
The coronavirus crisis has forced many banks to shift to home working. Some customers and employees may be longing for things to 'return to normal' but others are finding it difficult to imagine going back to how things were. It's likely that some traditional ways of banking will (and probably should) change for the better.
Many banking leaders are realizing that their teams can do much of their work productively at home. For the foreseeable future, we are all going to have to live and work with some form of physical distancing. VeriPark has the digital banking solutions to ensure your employees can work from home, stay safe and be available to meet the needs of your retail and business customers.
Customers and businesses are adapting to the Coronavirus pandemic. Almost overnight, we've seen a seismic shift from the high street to online banking and other financial and professional services. It's also been a huge change for bank employees, with many now working from home.
At first glance, digital-only banks may seem better prepared for this change. But, traditional banks often have strong, trusted brands. This familiarity can be a big advantage at a time when customers are seeking reassurance and stability. On top of that, traditional banks have significantly larger resources on hand.
As more customers are switching to digital channels to interact with their banks, the future of customer acquisition will be decided in the online space. Banks are quickly realizing that, to remain competitive, they must offer fully digital customer onboarding. And, to attract new customers they need to build relationships through digital advertising and social media channels. Taking a page from the retailers marketing handbook, proactive banks are redefining their approach to customer acquisition and communications. They are replacing or supplementing generic brand and product advertising campaigns and leveraging customer data to design personalized offers. They are also creating digital content focused on informing, reassuring and educating.
The future is here and all banks need to be ready
The COVID-19 crisis is accelerating the re-design of the banking customer experience. Traditionally, opening an account meant face-to-face meetings and signed paper documents. That is no longer an option.
Your new customers are spending much more time at home and online. And now, more than ever, they need your support to manage their finances and ease the financial pressure. Banks need the full range of digital tools to acquire and care for all their customers; not just those who are used to digital banking but also those who would previously have preferred to use a branch.
Digital onboarding defines your future customer relationships
Attracting new customers isn't easy nor cheap. Banks need to find new ways to reach them, draw them in and create an opportunity to sell new products and services. Customer onboarding sets the tone for the entire on-going relationship banks have with their customers. It's essential to get this "first journey" right and avoid wasting significant customer acquisition cost.
Just as many people around the world have switched to home working, they also want to bank from home. They may well be using some of their lockdown time to review their banking arrangements and try out new services. For those who decide it's time to switch to a bank with a more attractive digital offer, the process needs to be easy, secure and stress-free.
Customers want the experience to be fast and flexible with no frustrating delays. Even if they choose to use different channels, they don't want to answer the same questions multiple times. Nobody likes a lengthy onboarding, customers want to be able to start banking as quickly and as simply as possible.
Here are five digital onboarding steps banks must get right.
1. The initial application
When customers need to open an account (either online or via a mobile banking app) they expect the process to be straightforward. The user interface should be clear and easy to use. For example, they should only have to input details, such as name and address, once – and input only the minimum amount of information needed.
They will also expect to be able to use their mobile to take a picture of their ID and other necessary documents. Uploading them should be quick and easy. There should never be any need to mail or take any of them to the branch.
2. Identity verification
Technology can ensure KYC checks are both secure and smooth. Combining document capturing with biometric facial recognition means banks can now offer selfie-based onboarding or video call-based onboarding while retaining the full documentation for regulatory purposes.
PSD2 gives the option to both verify the identity and connect other existing accounts immediately, while Near Field Communication (NFC) scanning and hologram recognition help to confirm the validity of the IDs used.
3. Approvals and decisions
Pre-screening options and quick decision-making capabilities built into the system are a huge time saver for customers and a must for banks. By implementing predictive models and a risk-based approach, banks can master real-time decisioning and streamline customer interactions or recognize potential fraud cases. This way, they can offer fast and secure KYC checks that allow customers to instantly open a new account from the comfort of home. In case of a potential fraud, they can redirect them to call centres or other channels for more interactive verification methods.
Fast and frictionless interactions will help to ease financial anxieties during this difficult time. Those first few hours of the customer journey play a significant role in building long term customer loyalty. The speed and invisibility of all the decision-making processes going on the background is the key ingredient here – it all needs to happen within seconds and not slow the signup process.
4. Keeping it all paperless – including signatures
Digital account opening builds an expectation with customers that this digital process will continue smoothly. That must include e-signatures. Removing the need to physically sign documents reduces the onboarding process from days or weeks to minutes. The simple inclusion of modern one-time-password elements through mobile number and SMS also simplifies and secures the process.
5. Product flexibility
Many bank customers will need multi-product onboarding capabilities. For example, a retail customer may want a credit card or savings account. A small business owner may need a loan as well as a deposit account. These options need to be easily available; a saving account should be literally one click away.
To fulfil this expectation, a fast real time approval process should also be put in place for additional products, such as credit cards or loans. With PSD2 account information, real time access to creditworthiness and predictive analytics, banks can approve a credit card or a starting loan immediately. Clients should be able to open multiple products during the first interaction – literally within a few seconds.
VeriPark's VeriChannel and VeriTouch platforms give banks omni-channel capabilities for digital customer onboarding and on-going customer communications. This means customers can choose mobile and/or online banking channels and enjoy a frictionless and engaging end-to-end onboarding journey. And, banks can continue to onboard customers easily, cost-effectively and securely.
We hope you found these steps for onboarding new customers during the COVID-19 crisis useful. If you would like to receive more ideas and updates on the latest developments in banking, please subscribe to our blog.
Download our e-book "5 Steps to a Seamless Digital Onboarding" here. Find out more about VeriPark's Omni-Channel Digital Onboarding Solution that provides a single platform for banks to onboard customers easily and securely using their preferred onboarding channel(s) in a seamless journey.
From browsing to purchase, to post purchase customer service: modern consumers have come to expect a fully personalized customer journey. Customer Experience (CX) reigns supreme in the banking world. The retail lending landscape should be no exception.
Delivering a successful customer journey requires a mix of competencies and activities from technology implementations to rethinking processes. In reality, -among other challenges- many banks and financial institutions still have a paper-based retail loan origination process. This means customer acquisition and servicing costs are high, due to slow turnaround times and an increased risk of human errors during manual processing. For your customers and employees, the result is frustrating delays and a poor experience.
Financial institutions are currently engaged in a race to put this right. They are increasingly becoming more aware of the fact that loan origination process presents a pivotal opportunity to connect with a customer and build a relationship that can last for years. The crowning achievement is digital customer onboarding, automated workflows and paperless document management across the entire retail loan origination process. But, how can this personalized customer journey be achieved in the lending market?
A CRM-based end-to-end retail loan origination solution is one answer - and comes with 9 key benefits
Whether your customers are looking for a home, car or other personal loan or a credit card, a customer-centric retail loan origination solution, such as VeriPark's VeriLoan, provides nine key benefits.
1. CRM increases retail lending sales
An intelligent end-to-end CRM solution is a great sales tool. It streamlines and optimizes the entire sales process: from prospecting and lead capture, to loan qualification and nurturing an on-going customer relationship. This not only reduces the cost of customer acquisition, it also boosts conversions and enables repeat sales.
2. Omni-channel delivery boosts customer engagement
While many of your customers are increasingly likely to apply for a loan via their online or mobile account, others will still prefer to visit one of your branches. This means omni-channel delivery for retail loans is no longer a nice to have. A CRM system, such as Dynamics 365, gives your sales and customer service teams access to your retail loan origination system at the contact center, in your branches or other external locations, using a tablet or phone.
3. Eligibility Calculator reduces acquisition costs
VeriLoan's Eligibility Calculator has pre-defined rules to check customers' eligibility when they apply for loans online. This is an excellent example of how automation saves money by reducing manual processes; it can also improve customer experience with instant pre-approvals.
4. AML and KYC checks help banks enhancing detection with less cost
Optimized and streamlined business processes mean banks can handle automated alerts and case management more effectively. It also ensures you can efficiently comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations.
5. Automated checks allow instant loan approval
Using Microsoft Dynamics capabilities, VeriLoan defines a list of pre-approved and fully automated loan checks, from initial calculations and eligibility checks to credit reviews and scoring. Such swift decision- making processes can facilitate pre-approved offers and instant loan approvals.
6. Automated workflows reduce turnaround times
A CRM-based retail loan origination system means fewer paper-based processes; leading to faster, thorough, more responsive loan applications and approvals.
7. Digital processes are more eco-friendly
Migrating from paper-based to digital retail loan origination processes allows financial institutions to be more environmentally friendly. This is an increasingly important aspect of protecting your brand reputation.
8. Single Customer View increases cross-selling
When you have the ability to identify all the accounts and products held by a customer, you can treat that customer as an individual. This improved understanding of a customer's history and lifetime value allows for better targeted cross-selling and up-selling by understanding the needs of the customer. At the same time, an understanding of their potential exposure to debt supports a responsible retail lending process.
9. Next Best Action ensures a personalized customer journey
Gartner's research suggests that, by 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be completely handled by AI. This represents a 400% increase from 2017. And, it has profound implications for retail lending. Digital and physical interactions in retail loan origination generate massive amounts of situational data. This presents a unique opportunity for banks to leverage machine learning and the power of AI to predict future events. As well as reducing risk by predicting the loan default probability, contextual insight can create cross-selling and up-selling opportunities by predicting the Next Best Action (such as a personalized offer or product) for individuals at specific points in the customer lifecycle and capturing the need before the customer is aware of it. Amazing, isn't it?
VeriPark's VeriLoan is a powerful and easy to deploy digital loan origination solution. It allows financial institutions to make fast, consistent and cost effective loan decisions within predefined risk margins. It also provides your customers with an engaging, personalized experience.
COVID-19 is transforming the way billions of people live, work, shop – and manage their finances. In the midst of all the confusion and anxiety, proactive banks have the opportunity to emerge as a source of comfort, hope and security for their customers. Branches may be closed or operating with reduced hours, so now is the time for banks to ensure their digital doors stay wide open to care for their retail and business customers.
Digital banking is now an essential service
In times of social distancing, customers are shifting to safer online channels. While lockdowns and strict measures will be eventually relaxed, many elements of social distancing are here to stay.
Many customers are finding these changes stressful and need your support. It is inherent to the human brain to remember what happened during stressful times more vividly and for a longer period of time. The level of digital servicing, meaningful help and empathy you can offer during this crisis will have a lasting impact on your customer relationships. Make it – or break it.
In the projects and interactions we've had with customers during the last 14 days, leading banks across the globe have told us they are stepping up their digital services to help meet critical needs during this challenging time. We've captured the 7 main ways they are doing this:
1. Digital is the right thing to push right now
"Use the app."
This is the perfect time to promote your online and mobile apps to retail and SME customers. But it's important to get the tone right. It's not a sales drive, it's an opportunity to support your existing customers with improved remote servicing, availability and assistance.
Some customers, especially the elderly who may be new to digital banking, will be unsure about what to do and concerned about security and fraud. They'll need your help to get onboard with simple, clear explanatory communications. Consistent messaging, explaining the risks in a non-threatening way via email, SMS or call center agents, brings much needed reassurance.
2. Promote the benefits of omni-channel banking
"You can do what you want, online."
Existing retail and, especially, SME customers can benefit if you ensure the same services are available seamlessly across all channels. Whatever happens in their business or personal life, they can rely on you to help them perform the same banking operations they are used to do in a branch, on your website or mobile app instead. This is a really positive message to push right now to increase transactional usage online.
3. Raise your digital communications game
"Communicate, digitally, with purpose."
Your customers are mostly staying at home at the moment – and they are spending enormous amounts of time online. Digital communications through all channels – email and social media as well as your own Internet banking and mobile apps – need to be direct, personal, customized and bring added value to customers in these times. You can also investigate the use of messaging apps, such as Whatsapp or Viber. If you have something valuable to say, people will listen.
Integrating messaging apps with your CRM system gives customers a useful alternative channel to report everyday issues. For example, they may want to let you know that they've not received their statement. This gives you the opportunity to open up the conversation and add value by checking their address and asking if they'd like to move to e-statements. Now is a good time to move on those steps, that previously were done in non-digital ways. Arrange a standing order via mobile, switch to e-statements, get GDPR consent for relevant corona-related email advice. Banks are a trusted source of information in the digital space. You now have the opportunity to use that privilege wisely.
4. Shift sales efforts to digital channels
"Buy digitally, with a human touch."
Many banks have been successful at cross-selling and up-selling because their relationship managers have built trusted customer relationships. Those face-to-face selling opportunities are now very limited. Successful banks will be those who can quickly shift to digital sales, supported by direct customer communications and advertising via online and mobile channels. Just like supermarkets, you need to be able to sell and deliver services online.
That will mean up-scaling infrastructure and the administrative and regulatory processes for digital or remote signing. Customers want to minimize branch visits, so banks will need to prioritize the digitization of document signing and verification. This includes the additional development needed to apply this to documents traditionally dealt with face-to-face, such as notaries, employer confirmations, liens and land registries.
Even now, especially with higher value interactions, customers value human contact. Banks can still meet this demand by ensuring that customers get support from their advisors and sales teams. They can communicate with customers remotely (using calls or conferencing platforms) and finalize all requests and sales digitally.
5. Digital servicing is needed now more than ever
"Change the contract remotely."
The feedback we've had from banks is that this is their customers' biggest priority at the moment. There is, and will continue to be, significant demands from both retail and SME customers for amends to their existing loans and other contracts. That could be payment holidays, changing payment terms or extending loan duration.
There is a real sense of urgency about this as customers need help to cope with their financial distress. And the service needs to be digital as customers can't, or don't want to, visit a branch. For many banks that will require significantly stepping up their digital servicing and remote administration channels to support customers. Call centers need to be equipped to deal with their increased responsibility, having all the customers information available – and actionable remotely, ideally offloading part of the load to other digital channels for finalization.
6. Vulnerable customers need digital assistance
"Let me help you."
Another challenge banks are facing is that customers can be unwilling to use technology they don't trust. That's particularly so with elderly people who tend to be less used to digital banking. There is a need to educate and support customers so they can enjoy a safe, secure and reliable digital experience.
Many call center agents are also now working remotely and may be under too much pressure to provide this service over the phone. Clear, precise communication via reliable channels is critical. Online guides or videos explaining 'how to make a QR code payment' or 'how to setup mobile banking app' are an excellent alternative.
7. Digital payments are the new normal
"Pay contactless, pay online."
Cash usage has declined since the COVID-19 outbreak due to the potential spread of the infection through physical banknotes. Shoppers are also being encouraged to use contactless and mobile payment technology wherever possible. As limits for in-store spending on contactless cards have been increased in many countries, we can expect customer demand for banks to provide this service to rise.
People are now embracing contactless payments to avoid physical contact with the terminal. Online shopping with remote payments via card or instant payments is also on the rise. Supported by the right messaging and onboarding processes, banks can now help customers to switch to more safe payment ways rapidly.
This is the time to digitize customer relationships – customers want it and banks need it. It is the banks who reach out to care for and support their customers throughout difficult times will cultivate long term customer loyalty.
To use those seven challenges as opportunities, VeriPark's VeriChannel and VeriTouch digital banking platforms can help banks creatively meet the needs of their retail and SME customers and unlock new business potential. The banks that do the right thing in the right way will be remembered – and rewarded – long after this current crisis has passed.
We hope you found these suggestions for supporting your existing customers during the global crisis useful. Our next article will outline our insights for digital customer acquisition and onboarding. Please subscribe to our blog if you would like to be kept informed.
Webinar: As the impact of COVID-19 intensified, the demand for banking services through digital channels has increased significantly. Learn how you can provide all banking services from digital onboarding to digital lending during and after the global pandemic. Click here to register now.
The banking industry is unquestionably going digital. Retail banks started their journey towards more customer-centric digital services years ago. Now, corporate banking clients also expect the same frictionless, personalized experience they currently enjoy with retailers.
In an age of one-click ordering and instant approvals, corporate clients will not tolerate frustrating lengthy banking processes. Many of these business owners are already rapidly digitizing their own operations. As such, they expect their bank to support them in the same dynamic and relevant way.
Digital disruption has come to corporate banking
Corporate banks are now rethinking their processes from a client perspective, to deliver an outstanding digital experience. This usually starts with streamlining the onboarding process to set the right tone. But, to differentiate in such a competitive market, banks need to go further by digitizing and personalizing their end-to-end processes across the entire corporate client journey.
Creating digital client focused journeys
Banks are already offering omni-channel self-service coverage such as internet and mobile banking to their corporate clients. These will invariably include standard services such as transactions, international payments and payroll administration. On the other hand,
corporate banking channels also should give employees the tools to instantly react to ever-changing corporate needs.
For example, VeriPark's
VeriChannel internet banking solution includes a powerful Self-Service Admin Console. This functionality enables corporate clients to define the specific processes and approval flows that are most relevant and useful for their business. Effectively, your clients can create their own digital banking journeys to suit their own needs. And, they can do it quickly and cost effectively at any time without any additional IT support.
Here's how your clients can create their personalized digital process flows
Let's say your client – active in the hospitality industry - wants to automate their housekeeping department's budget and expenses procedures. Admin Console allows them to define their own approval rules based on the transaction amount, account and beneficiary. For example, they could set an approval process where named individuals - such as a housekeeping supervisor – can sign off invoices under $1,000. After that, the Director of Housekeeping must approve anything over that limit.
The Admin Console functionality is highly flexible. For example, clients can assign roles such as Entry, Approver, Reviewer and Supervisor to each internet banking user. In fact, they can assign up to fifteen levels of sign-off.
They can also set up group signings, where transactions are routed based on the defined limits and groups. The users could even approve transactions via their mobile or AppleWatch if they're out of the office. To ensure everyone's kept up-to-date, approvers receive an email or text when a transaction is pending for their approval. There's also a user-friendly graphical display showing the current stage of the approval process for each transaction.
There's no doubt the combined forces of technology and competitive pressures are bringing sweeping changes to corporate banking. Innovative digital solutions, such as the Admin Console within
VeriChannel, go well beyond standard corporate internet banking services. The ability to offer your clients personalized and secure digital journeys with flexible approval authorization levels is a powerful differentiator and competitive advantage.