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JF Sullivan, CMO & EVP Enterprise, Xura

JF Sullivan

The financial sector has been going through a series of wholesale changes in the way that interactions with customers are carried out.

Juniper Research predicts that, by 2017, there will be a billion mobile banking customers around the world. Forty per cent of these will still ring call centres or visit their bank’s high street branches for certain enquiries, all the while accessing their accounts via an app or mobile optimised website on their phone. The omni-channel is a term we usually hear in association with straight retail players. But there is real desire for combined social, personalised and “human” interactions to be integrated into a bank’s online services and mobile app, from more than half of global banking customers, according to research from KPMG.

Convenience is the key here – not what’s convenient for a bank, but what’s convenient and tailored to the customer, who wants to replicate the experience they have become familiar with through the use of messaging services such as WhatsApp and FaceTime. Recent advances in communication technology means that banks and financial service providers actually have a relatively straightforward path to the provision of customer-centric user experiences.

Real-time customer interactions such as VoIP calling, video chat, instant messaging, encrypted file- and screen- sharing, virtual presence and recording, can all be made available at the touch of a button with WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) technology. Service functionality not only improves, but the experience for the consumer is personalised thanks to the human touch element that WebRTC provides. Sophisticated security features, such as multi-factor authentication, enable the customer to engage with appropriate banking personnel immediately and without the need to visit a physical branch, while safe in the knowledge that they are doing so privately and securely.

Contextual communication: the game changer

Moving spoken and video interaction into a banking app or browser interface leads to a seamless interaction for users, enabling them to push, or banking staff to pull data from the screen, without ever having to leave the banking platform to do so.

At the heart of the offering is the ability for customers to get the answers they need right there and then, in real-time.  This means when a customer clicks-to-communicate with their bank or financial services provider, their chat, video or voice call can be routed to to the most appropriate customer service agent, reducing the need to be diverted through to different departments. When a session commences, the customer is already authenticated from their login through the app or website.  The agent can also access the customer’s transaction history or pull relevant contextual information automatically upon authentication, providing a streamlined, efficient and intelligent interaction..

Bringing together the most appropriate banking staff member with a customer and his or her data, equates to faster call resolution and a customer that feels like they’ve had the service tailored to them, giving total peace of mind. But what does this translate to from a business standpoint? Significant cost savings and increased loyalty.

While other proprietary approaches for creating video-based applications exist today, WebRTC is likely to be the dominant technology, for the next few years at the very least. Analysts have estimated that over six billion devices will be WebRTC-capable by 2019, which means a good chunk of an organisation’s customer base – particularly in developed economies – is going to be able to make use of these services.

And, as it has become increasingly important across retail banking, insurance, capital markets and the assorted fintech applications that have proliferated of late, the technology has seen high-profile names including American Express, Coutts, and Wells Fargo becoming early adopters.

According to Dean Bubley, lead analyst at Disruptive Analysis, “banking, insurance and related sectors have been at the forefront of commercial WebRTC adoption already, and this trend looks to broaden and deepen further. While self-service and messaging/notification channels will continue to evolve, so too will voice and video – and WebRTC is probably the single most important innovation to allow that to occur.”

Optimising lines of communications

Whether it is to make cost savings, address security concerns, or as part of a wider loyalty initiative, there are a number of reasons why financial institutions are choosing to optimise their communications channels right now. While there may not be a one-size-fits-all approach to solving these issues, by incorporating WebRTC technology allows financial institutions the best means possible of adapting to a dynamic and ever changing digital environment, which is ultimately dependant on any one particular customer’s needs and a variety of other contextual variables. And it’s this personalised approach that ultimately differentiates a corporate brand at a time when customer loyalty is at a premium.

There has already been a high level of investment in mobile, digital applications and communications technology across the industry, as products and processes change to adapt to this growing demand for more personal interactions. However, the integration of WebRTC rich communication technology will enable secure, intelligent, and personalised two-way dialogue through any device, supporting banks and financial organisations in the drive to create an omni-channel experience. It has the potential to revolutionise the way they interact with customers, while saving both time and money.

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