Lending an ear to your customers' greatest need: “Can I please speak to someone?”
Keeping the human element of customer service in the digital banking era
With the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdowns and restrictions around the world, customers were forced to turn to digital channels by necessity. As more people migrated online, so did customer service.
Digital has been exceedingly at the forefront of the way both small and large financial institutions engage with their customers because branches were not available. Pushing customers to lower cost channels has also become “more appealing” for organizations amid pandemic. Hence, a digital-first approach has become the new normal for customers of financial institutions.
However, the problem with many “digital-first” strategies is that they are not “customer-first.”
Empowering customers with digital tools and capabilities shouldn’t mean leaving them alone to self-serve and dig through overwhelming amounts of information. This often makes it too difficult for customers to get the right kind of help and services suited to their needs. And it leads banks to lose contact with their clients and vice versa.
While customers expect more from their digital banking, they still value access to real people, when needed (particularly if the matter is urgent or if they are in distress). Contrary to popular belief, recent Gartner data reveals that the majority of consumers still prefer to connect with people for some banking needs. They value physical and assisted channels when they need expertise particularly for high-value transactions.
They truly appreciate one-on-one talks for more clarity and understanding when applying for large loans, buying a home or starting a business. Many higher-margin products such as high-volume B2B transactions or mortgages include higher levels of risk (and revenue) and are more successful with direct human interaction. These are more likely to be sold in person, either via a video call or in branch.
Customers will always want to speak with someone, no matter how advanced technology gets.
After many months of isolation, customers are craving social interactions and started behaving in a more omni-channel way. Looking to balance online and physical experiences, they switch between digital and assisted channels at various points in the customer journey. So, it is no exaggeration to say that the question every financial institution needs to prepare for in 2021 and beyond should be “Can I please speak to someone right away?”
What customers expect from banks today is a channel-agnostic experience integrating self and assisted services. Therefore, financial institutions must adopt an omni-channel strategy that seamlessly integrates digital and physical to meet clients' complex financial needs. The idea here is to have banks make all the capabilities of bank branches available to the customers and bridge digital connection with human support to show they are listening to the customer needs.
Financial institutions can add a human touch to the digital experience by facilitating access to real-life interactions via technologies such as direct connect apps, dedicated direct connect buttons, video, and front-end chat.
Digital channels shouldn’t be forced to stand on their own
Rather than migrating customers to the bank’s preferred lowest-cost channels, the purpose of digital should be guiding customers through a process by using the most effective customer journey available.
For example, a bank might see a wide range of complaints or disputed transactions. If a customer finds a transaction on their credit card statement that they do not recognize or believe to be incorrect, they can start a dispute on their mobile app, or online banking. But when they reach out to an assisted channel, let’s say two days later, we see that they often have to repeat their story.
At VeriPark, our mantra is that customers should tell their story only once. This requires an omni-channel approach that unites digital and assisted channels under one umbrella with a CRM system operating in the background. As soon as we deploy an omni-channel approach to contact center, mobile or online channels, we achieve parity. No matter which contact point or channel your customers prefer, they end up receiving the same excellent customer service and functionality.
Support employees in staying connected to customers
Enabling employees with the right tools helps them create unique journeys across channels and best serve consumers. Appointments booked and complaints or service requests submitted through an omni-channel platform are passed on to the CRM which gathers customer interactions across all channels in one place. CRM systems give your customer-facing staff detailed information on customers' transaction history, preferences or complaints. It tells them a lot about what’s going to be discussed before meeting in person or in the call.
This means that the customer doesn’t need to tell his/her story twice. Additionally, with all the information at hand in one single customer view, the customer service agent will need less time preparing a face-to-face with the customer. It makes it a lot easier to quickly solve any request and keep customers happy.
Show your customers it’s all about them
The opportunity here for banks is to reinvent themselves and redesign customer relationships. Banks need to shift their focus from “transaction-first” or “digital-first to “journey-first” and “customer-first” to attain this. This customer-centric strategy has a number of advantages including improved customer experience and satisfaction as well as greater loyalty and retention.
VeriPark has helped many customers focus on the most meaningful aspects of customer experience and produce a superior level of service and real results. For example, Alternatifbank has increased productivity by 85% on assisted and direct customer channels.
In an increasingly commoditized and competitive marketplace, banks of the future can prosper and stand out only if they maintain the human touch. Financial organizations should take the lead and be proactive in investing in relationships by putting the customer first. And it all starts with recognizing that physical, digital, and assisted channels should complement and reinforce each other to maximize value for both the customer and the bank.