By Priya Bajoria, SVP, Financial Services, Publicis Sapient
Over the past few months, Banks and Financial Services Institutions (BFSIs)across the world have faced unprecedented challenges due to the onslaught of COVID-19. This experience has also been unparalleled in terms of learnings and accelerated the formulation and adoption of new ways of operating in the ‘new normal’. Looking forward, some of the key lessons for BFSIs include the following:
Digital Transformation of customer experience is a business imperative critical for survival
The smartphone has evolved from being a luxury item to a lifeline for most people. Yet, about half of the mobile phone users in the world, around 1.7 billion people, remain unbanked. While several banks already had some form of digital initiatives underway for their retail consumers, successful firms in the future will be those who better understand their consumers’ digital DNA, deliver personalised marketing to ideal prospects and can seamlessly deliver end-to-end customer journeys including fully digital client onboarding experiences.
Digital forms of payment gained ground as cash became a casualty of COVID-19. Retail customers are likely to continue to increasingly adopt contactless e-payments such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Integrating these applications within the retail banking technology landscape will have to be expedited to stay ahead of the curve.
Given the accelerated digital adoption and likely shift in customer preferences, banks will also have to find creative ways to utilise as well as optimise their physical branch infrastructure. New service models will need to be evolved that may include for example, a Genius Bar for help with client’s financial literacy needs.
Digital experiences for employees will have to keep pace
Most BFSI firms were pleasantly surprised with the speed at which their employees could transition to working from home at scale. Going forward, additional investments will be required in digital tools to keep employees safe and make them more productive and efficient. Accelerated adoption of agile ways of working across business and technology teams, digitising employee interactions including inter-operable collaboration tools will be key to successful employee engagement.
Ongoing investments in Data, Technology and Infrastructure will be required to make banks future-proof
Many banks struggled with getting their call centers to be fully functional when the crisis first set in. Often plagued with legacy technology and manually intensive processes, the call center infrastructure in many firms have been overwhelmed with call volumes.Cloud native solutions and collaboration technologies can help achieve an enhanced customer experience while optimising costs. Use of AI and personalized data to enhance pre-call resolution and intelligent triage will transform the call handling process. Workforce management can also be improved by matching supply and demand leveraging virtual agents.
Banks will need to reassess their priorities in terms of modernising their legacy infrastructure while increasing reliance on cloud technologies to drive business agility and operational effectiveness. More scalable and resilient systems will need to be designed based on flexible and robust architecture. The focus on data quality and the ability to draw insights from that data will be all the more critical going forward. Processes will need to be reimagined with paper being eliminated and flexible workflows designed.
Governance, Risk, Compliance and Operational Controls will need a fresh look
With an overhaul of processes to become more automated and digital, IT and audit controls, supervision and compliance will need to be strengthened. Cyber security has emerged as a key risk and significant investments will be required to keep technology systems, the network and infrastructure secure. Business continuity plans will need to be made more granular with specific scenarios outlined for parallel lockdowns impacting offices around the world. Security protocols for remote working will need to be thoroughly reviewed in line with learnings from recent weeks.
In general, BFSIs can learn from both Fintech firms as well as traditional competitors who may have taken an early lead as digital adopters. Firms that can pivot from an ‘innovate-to-grow’ mindset to ‘innovate-to-sustain will emerge stronger from this crisis.