Noel Lavery, UK Sales Director, Infobip
When it comes to banking and finance, digital functionality is no longer optional. While many financial institutions have been slow to invest in technology over the last five years, Covid-19 has forced the entire industry to adjust business models and provide consumers with digital options where they may not have existed previously.
This rate of technological change has encouraged many organisations to think quickly and creatively to ensure their customers can continue to access vital services. But it’s also posed huge problems for those slow off the mark, amplifying the gap between larger organisations with complex legacy systems, and more agile “digital natives” who can move faster.
In recent PWC research, 81 per cent of banking CEOs felt concerned about the market’s speed of technological change. The same study found that digital natives now offer better and more convenient customer experiences at lower price points than the market standard.
There’s no denying that innovation can be challenging to implement in this industry, especially as all upgrades need to be balanced with legal compliance, security and stability. But to be able to compete and ensure customer expectations are not only met, but exceeded, innovation must happen.
Digital natives such as Liv and Starling Bank have entered the market with a tight product portfolio, targeting a younger demographic. Without the same legacy infrastructures holding back more traditional players, they can move swiftly and develop offerings with confidence and agility. What’s more, given they are built for purpose in the digital domain, they can focus on delivering much of their customer experience via their applications, leading to new features and services being released with relative ease.
Traditional banks have a much broader demographic and therefore support a greater range of communication requirements, from accessibility support and printed materials to cashing in cheques and investing in voice-based call centres. Both the rapid digital transformation caused by the pandemic and the advent of open banking (APIs), which is simplifying the process of customers switching providers, are intensifying the need for traditional banks to keep up with their younger counterparts.
Placing customer experience first
The departmental silos in traditional banks often complicate the process of providing smooth and seamless customer experiences across different service areas. With each team operating independently with their own technology stacks, consolidation is a vital first step towards consistent frictionless customer experiences. In this day and age, customer service and engagement must go hand in hand, so finding a solution that can help the mortgage team and the credit card team ensure a seamless experience, for example, is imperative.
Another key challenge is pulling together the various communication programmes into one place. These organisations need to consider the business impact of their current customer engagement strategies and spend time understanding what customers want and how they want to be communicated with. Ultimately, they’re looking for a solution to a specific problem and they want to find that answer with ease, on the channel of their choice.
Preparing for the next wave of consumer
As customers become more connected, they become more demanding. Easier comparison and faster switching mean that relationships can be brief and largely transactional. Consumers now see financial institutions as just another digital brand they expect to be able to interact with quickly, seamlessly and on the platform of their choice. This “platform”, more often than not, is on a person’s mobile phone through apps and social media channels. Financial organisations need to meet consumers on this device with a positive experience – whether that means facilitating a bank transfer, making a personalised offer based on spending habits, or ensuring a lost or stolen card can be replaced in a matter of moments.
They also need to consider generational differences. We all know the age brackets that consumers are commonly grouped into: millennials, Gen X, Gen Z, baby boomers and so on. It may be that your average millennial prefers communication via WhatsApp, whereas Gen Z are more inclined to use an app. Monitor these differences and plan your communications strategy accordingly.
One thing that is consistent is an increased willingness to embrace digital communications. An Infobip survey showed that nearly half (46 per cent) of people, regardless of age, believe technology has played a greater role in how they engage with brands since the onset of the pandemic. It’s about using data-driven insights from these digital channels to target specific demographics with the right message in the right place.
Pairing CX with security
It goes without saying that another key element of customer experience within this market is security. The way people exchange products and services will continue to change, and new threats arise almost daily. All financial organisations need to try, test and scale their security solutions in line with their customer experience solutions. A secure experience doesn’t have to be one full of friction and hurdles. In fact, consumers will only get frustrated if they have to type in seven different passwords or verification codes. That’s the advantage of Infobip’s solution – we have a platform that lets customers build security into their wider communication plan by verifying phone numbers securely and silently in the background and gathering real-time insights to ensure potential threats are flagged as early as possible.
To drive success, financial service organisations need to be empathetic to customer needs, adapt where necessary and be prepared to fight the customer’s battles when internal culture threatens progress toward meaningful customer journeys. It’s a competitive moment, but an empowering one for those institutions ready to grab innovation by the horns.
Keen to learn how a robust communications strategy can help you exceed customer expectations? Click here to find out more.
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