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By Jeff Woodland, Director of Verticals at Five9


The financial services industry has always been behind other sectors when it comes to digital transformation. Ingrained cultures alongside ancient financial institutes with legacy systems are tough cookies to crack. However, due to impacts from changing customer expectations, banks and other financial services companies have had to do a complete 180 on what they once thought was good customer service. Other sectors have revolutionised the customer experience model, and the financial services sector is now following suit.

Many people find it difficult to cope with the stress that comes with managing money. Our world revolves around our finances and is essential to everyday living. Being able to speak with a human when they need to discuss concerns and ask questions can put customers mind at ease. Similarly, receiving easily accessible services on whatever channel a customer chooses can improve the customer journey and build brand loyalty.

Those unable to connect customers through the right channel at the right time may begin to see huge impact on customer service that can be detrimental to reputations.

Integration is essential

Challenger banks like Monzo and Revolut also set a new standard for legacy banks. They offered a different way of banking with digital at the heart and this challenged traditional customer service. As such, traditional banks had to step up. Through scale and innovation, big banks have made significant gains in customer satisfaction over the last decade.

Digital transformation is paying off for financial services but it has also left siloed data and applications which are in need of integration in order to offer the most seamless experience for customers. Technology is essential when it comes to customer experience, but unless it is integrated and connects to all core systems, it cannot deliver its intended value – and may be more costly than it’s worth.

Intelligent assistance

That consumers have grown increasingly comfortable with interacting with smart devices in a natural and conversational manner shows how this tech can be done right. As a result, there has been a huge shift in consumer behaviour over the last few years, with research suggesting that shopping through voice-activated devices in the UK will be worth £3.2bn by 2022. Customers have come to expect virtual assistants at all points of the purchase journey – and financial services is no exception.

Whether it is through an AI chatbot, over SMS or via email, being able to get a quick, 24/7 response to questions helps to put a customer’s mind at ease. IVAs (Intelligent Virtual Assistants), are a prime example. They are automated, self-service applications that offer capabilities similar to human service and support agents but unlike their human counterparts, they just never rest or take holidays. This means that the customer can be looked after and responded to 24/7, offering that seamless experience that they don’t just want but have come to expect.

The benefit isn’t just for the customer, however. As adoption of IVAs increases in the financial sector, the benefits are ten-fold for businesses too. Being able to offer automated responses to questions, and only having to use agents for bigger queries and complex issues, frees up valuable time for human agents to focus on more urgent customer enquiries. It also reduces average wait times for customers during busy hours, all whilst delivering a more human experience – one that isn’t actually human.

Technology enhances experience

While consumers value speed, convenience and the ability to get quick turnaround answers digitally, for financial services, the telephone is still the most used channel when it comes to dealing with personal matters. This is where human contact and technology have to marry up perfectly in order to give the customer a seamless experience.

Customers want to be able to use digital services for tasks such as getting approval for credit cards or making an online transfer, but when it comes to getting a mortgage or making investments, being able to speak to someone is essential. It sounds simple, but too often businesses get it wrong.

For example, customers can get so far online and then have to speak to an advisor. If they get through to the advisor, they then have to repeat what they have already done online. This can be a huge pain point for customers.

This is where technology should be used to enhance human contact. Being able to provide an advisor with an overview of what the customer has already filled out and completed will help create that all important seamless experience. To get it right, financial services have to focus on the contact centre.

The cloud is the next step

Now is the time for the contact centre to act as a central “hub” for customers to receive the best experience possible across all channels. Cloud contact centres are more advanced than ever, implementing AI is seeing the industry transform and provide more than the traditional customer services experience.

Those that want to deliver exceptional customer experiences must provide customers with what they want, when they want it. The cloud contact centre is here to deliver integrated services that provide quick, easy, convenient experiences for customers.

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