Digital transformation is revolutionising the way we live and work, from how we order food to the ways in which we conduct business and pay for products and services. There are few aspects of our lives yet to be impacted.
For banks and financial institutions, these innovations present huge opportunities to improve services offered to customers, and room to become more integrated into their everyday lives. Banks are no longer just places to keep your money or somewhere to stow your monthly salary. Now, more than ever, they are seen as fundamental cogs in the workings of our day-to-day lives, providing more than just a means to pay for products, but also a way to financially communicate with the rest of the world. The role of the traditional bank is changing, and financial service providers can’t afford to miss out on these budding opportunities.
In the small business sector, digital technologies are helping banks understand their customers’ needs and desires more precisely, allowing them to offer tailored advice, financial aid, coaching and practical help when it is needed, becoming their clients’ go-to for all things financial and more. Digital technologies have the potential to create innovative, stronger relationships with both new and existing SME customers, while being able to increase wallet-share for themselves and build financial resilience for their customers.
The Covid-19 pandemic has only served to accelerate this trend. Remote working and lockdown restrictions have provided the momentum for small businesses to operate in new ways that were previously resisted. Businesses and consumers are now more comfortable with transacting online, and many are unlikely to return to the more traditional ways of operating. But, despite this, many SMEs are still unaware of the opportunities that exist to better serve their customers and grow their online activities when it comes to researching and rolling out digital capabilities.
Banks and financial organisations are well placed to help their small business customers take advantage of these openings. “It’s an opportunity to talk to customers about how to grow their business, generate more revenue and create financial resilience,” says Rachel Schapiro, SME Success Navigator at vcita. “It’s a chance to be more than just a bank.”
For SMEs, the ability to accept payments on the go – at a customer’s house or work premises – or to set up recurring transactions for more regular work is one obvious way in which digital technologies can have a positive impact on their bottom line. This can significantly improve cash flow, making it possible to get paid for services on completion of a job rather than having to wait several weeks for invoices to be settled. For some, access to such liquidity could be the difference between surviving or going out of business altogether in the current climate.
But this is only one way in which digital innovation can help small businesses survive and thrive. An effective digital platform can help them plan their daily business activities, stay on top of their financial situation, communicate with customers and keep track of future jobs. Relying on spreadsheets, paper diaries and sticky notes plastered on monitors should be a thing of the past.
vcita’s workday app is one way in which small businesses can do this. It provides a one-stop shop for those looking to run their enterprises digitally, and it can all be fully integrated into the bank or financial organisation’s platform. On the payments side, it allows SMEs to collect outstanding monies through various gateways, via their customers’ mobile phones, ensuring they can get paid on time and in full.
It also enables small businesses to communicate directly with customers, including an email marketing tool with market-specific templates. Their own customers can access an online scheduling system to book appointment slots directly with the business, and there’s even a business page in the app which can act as an information source for customers.
The app allows banks and financial service providers to find out more about the history of their customers and understand their income trends and opportunities in more detail. This means they can make better decisions about their own risk, and offer small businesses the support they need at the right time.
Being able to help small businesses in this way places the bank or financial enterprise firmly at the heart of the customer relationship. “It means that instead of just having a chat once a month or visiting a website once every couple of weeks, customers are using an app that is associated with the bank, and which carries the bank’s logo, on a daily basis,” explains Mrs Schapiro. “You’re really becoming very much more involved in your customers’ day-to-day activities.”
Bringing together technology providers, financial institutions and small businesses in this way can help create a stronger ecosystem that will help enterprises flourish and form a vital part of the post-Covid-19 recovery, as well as meeting the changing needs of customers around cashless payment and online interactions. “So many small businesses say they’re not tech-savvy or worry that customers won’t be comfortable with online scheduling,” says Schapiro. “But Covid-19 has changed all of that. It’s a great opportunity to be a part of their journey.”
With over 1.4 million users worldwide, vcita champions digital and financial inclusion for SMEs by partnering with major banks and financial enterprises, such as Mastercard, to provide small business customers with innovative, added-value services that go beyond banking.
For more information about how vcita can help you add authentic value for your SME customers with their digital first solution, visit www.vcita.com/partners