By Jeff Woodland, Director of Verticals at Five9
Financial services and digital transformation aren’t two phrases that tend to be associated with each other. Banks have traditionally been slower to adopt new technology due to legacy systems and cultures that have been built over hundreds of years. A huge shift in customer expectation, however, meant that banks had to adapt or risk losing customers to challenger banks such as Monzo. Traditional banks could no longer offer a sub-par service, they had to offer the same seamless experience that customers receive from other sectors.
Managing finances on a daily basis can be stressful. Money is the foundation of everything we do. It’s often tied to personal reputation, sense of worth and social standing. But it’s also essential to everyday living. Customers want the comfort and security of being able to reach a human when they need to discuss concerns and ask questions about financial matters. At the same time, they also want fast, easy and accessible services across their channel of choice.
Being unable to connect customers with the right channel at the right time can have a huge impact on customer service. This can be detrimental when it comes to reputation.
Leaving the legacy behind
Challenger banks like Monzo and Revolut set a new standard for legacy banks. They offered a different way of banking with digital at the heart and this disrupted 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 is worth.
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.
It’s more than the right tech
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 all 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 or signed will help create that all important seamless experience. To get it right, financial services have to focus on the contact centre.
Making the most of the cloud
The contact centre needs to act as a central “hub” for synthesising and improving the customer experience in order to create a connected experience across all channels. Cloud contact centres have advanced, allowing them to use AI to provide more than a traditional customer services experience.
Making the contact centre cloud-based means that businesses can rapidly and cost-effectively deliver the communication experience that customers want, on the channel that they want. Each customer’s journey is different, and a contact centre should be able to support every customer in the best way for them on an individual basis.
A cloud contact centre can integrate an array of services, including self-service IVR, intelligent routing capabilities and getting customers to the right person at the right time. This in turn provides the quick, easy, convenient experience that is essential when it comes to keeping today’s customers happy.
Creating a new legacy
Whether they are exploring your products for the first time or a long-term customer, consumers expect a frictionless transition between digital and voice channels. This means retaining the context of their financial journey at all points, so that a customer feels that their time is valued. It also means having the right self-service options in place, so that customers don’t have to face lengthy hold times and agents are free to help and support customers with more difficult issues.
In today’s world, customers’ expectations are higher than ever. In order to reduce strain on agents while also offering the best customer services, the only option is cloud-based contact centres and getting the mix between IVAs and human contact spot on. For the financial sector, having fantastic customer service is no longer a nice to have – it is essential.