Do changes in customer preference affect sales processes?

Yes. It depends on the readiness of customers to purchase a specific product remotely. In the case of complex products, even very digital customers expect assistance or a personal meeting. It is an element that banks should not overlook. A digital transformation strategy must include providing sales teams with the right tools. Within the purchasing process, customers often expect an explanation of terminology or a support agent to confirm that the way they filled out forms was correct. For example, communicating with an agent via chat is enough with simple loan forms. But in remote sales processes, banks should also consider more advanced tools such as videoconferencing, document exchange, or screen sharing.

Satisfying customers within digital channels is a real opportunity for banks

Banks now have a unique opportunity to influence customer preferences in their sales paths. The dynamics of using digital channels is an opportunity not only in terms of self-service development but also in terms of improving the quality of service. Consumers have become accustomed to checking the account balance, paying bills, or making transfers, including more and more popular instantly processed transfers to telephone numbers. The activities of digital banks in the area of accounts, cards, and loans are a challenge for traditional banks. As a result, competition is increasing in these simple product segments. Here, the advantage relates to the speed of access to the offer and the simplicity of inference.

How can impressions made during the sales process affect customer loyalty?

The first element is building a personal experience that will mitigate the risks and challenges. It requires rebuilding the customer journey, regardless of the contact channel, be it a branch, digital, or other forms of contact with the bank. Building trust in a digital context is generally a more difficult challenge. Bank branches, which may not be as convenient as digital channels, can provide warmth and empathy in dialogue, often with the same counsellor supporting multiple requests. Use the experience of your department staff to build a digital experience.

How do we increase conversion by changing the customer journey?

Let’s look at a scenario where a consumer wants to buy a property and needs funding to finance it. Their journey may look like this:

Step 1 – Search for information on the bank’s website.

Step 2 – Ask the staff on the helpline or by e-mail.

Step 3 – Meets with an in-branch adviser.

Along the way, however, the consumer has to repeat their questions or understanding (it is good if the information is consistent across different channels, it will be worse if they are not). Then they provide documents and, from time to time, call to get the status of their case. Consequently, the customer loses time and concentration on buying real estate and frustration and stress increase. Moreover, the transition from one communication channel to another is not smooth.

Now let’s look at a scenario more oriented toward the customer’s experience.

Step 1 – The customer looks for information on the bank’s website. At this point, they have the option of making an appointment. 

Step 2 – The customer decides to make an appointment. They can choose to authenticate themself as a bank client or remain anonymous.

Step 3 – After logging in to Internet Banking, the customer can arrange a call with an advisor of their choosing. 

Step 4 – The advisor is assigned to the customer, and they can contact each other via chat or video. 

Here, customers have access to the entire process path. Customers can see how far progressed their case is and what actions are next. They can contact the assigned advisor and, if absent, leave a message. The customer does not have to share anything a second time – the journey is consistent, regardless of which channel they choose. The physical and digital channels begin to merge, and customers are free to migrate between them.

Effect

Our internal statistics show that banks that consider the aspect of communication with an advisor in their sales processes have up to twice as high conversion rates compared to the same process without assistance. The change is a permanent change seen in the statistics over months and years. It shows the combined effect of many channels and the experience of being in contact with a living person. It is a qualitative leap or, in fact, the next stage in the evolution of the approach to digital channels.

Conclusion

Consumers are now much more aware of the functions of digital banking. Many users are comfortable with transactional banking. Remote sales are the driving force behind banks, which aligns with customers’ expectations of being able to buy financial products digitally. Digitisation should go hand in hand with the option to communicate with a living person, especially for complex interactions where conversations and advice are integral to making important decisions and overcoming stressful moments in consumers’ financial journeys. Those banks that “humanise” and create consistent sales processes achieve higher conversion rates and change purchasing preferences.

Banks have predominantly focused on making banking more convenient.

Research indicates that 80% of Americans would rather take care of banking online than visit a brick-and-mortar branch.”[1] This shift in consumer preferences has changed the banking landscape  — the number of bank branches is falling. The reduction creates challenges in communication, sales, process visualisation, presenting offers, and regulations. We’re witnessing a complete evolution of banking within a brief timeframe.

Technology is changing our perspective and our behaviours. For example, 76% of US customers use mobile services for their everyday banking [2]. Access to financial services from mobile devices is becoming more important than ever. The mobile-first approach has been adopted by a larger group of consumers for whom smartphones are an essential tool enabling communication. However, this quick adaptation has revealed a challenge — customer support has not been able to come up with new technical solutions. Banks have predominantly focused on making banking more convenient — and for good reason. Customers have preferred digital for their routine transactions throughout the last decade, so banks focused on making transactions quicker. Technology was generally seen as a means of increasing efficiency, not as a tool for personal contact. Unfortunately, some customers became lost in the solutions they wanted to use. That is why it is so critical to be able to easily connect with a real person via chat or even video for a more personal touch.

Conversations are at the heart of the next wave of digital growth and will fundamentally transform the banking industry.

A remote advisor can provide high-quality insights that help customers to understand their finances. The advisor acts as an ambassador for digital customer onboarding. What the client needs most at the initial stage of cooperation is a sense of understanding of what the banking application is and what can be done with it, e.g. how to make a transfer using QR. There is a natural impulse for customers to seek support when they are in a new situation for the first time, so an easily accessible point of contact is a must for any customer-centric environment. Direct contact with an agent in real-time is one of the most valuable and effective ways to make contact. If we provide access to customer service in one click, users will feel more comfortable. In turn, increasing user comfort helps to build trust between client and bank.

Onboarding a new client is a particularly important stage in the bank-client relationship. This stage has the potential to start building client loyalty. The mobile app is one place where your bank can make a positive first impression, assuming it is perceived as easy to use. That first impression has the power to affect the clients’ perception of bank offers and their willingness to sign-up to it. And when advisors are empowered to be a spokesperson for digital onboarding, they will be well-positioned to show clients how to use the application. This is crucial for customers to feel a sense of control when interacting with the bank. A remote advisor helps clients to, for example, analyse what is happening in their account, verify fees, or help them order a new bank card. In addition, using a system like LiveBank allows agents and clients to use tools not available during telephone calls, such as document or screen sharing.

“One of the main benefits is that customers can use the LiveBank-enabled processes remotely from home or wherever they are. So from the customer perspective, it is a huge gain.” Project manager, European retail bank[3]

Explore the hidden potential of conversation.

Using secure online contact forms to talk to customers opens the door to countless opportunities that aren’t available in self-service processes. This is crucial in the domain of financial services, where regulation is strict and data security is a top priority. Useful conversations with a human advisor can transform the customer experience. Customers who get stuck in the midst of digital interaction have an increased desire to abandon the process. So, for customers who prefer to carry out transactions on their own, an online conversation can turn a single transaction into a conversation that opens the way to shared decision making. And each conversation has the potential to increase the bank’s sales score. Depending on the market and the organisation, digital sales account for 10% to as much as 100% of sales (e.g. in the case of neo-banks). And customers prefer to take care of transactions online, as long as they don’t feel their time is being wasted.

“(…)average conversion rate, which increased from 35% to 70%, was driven by the increased acceptance and satisfaction of digitally enabled prospects.” [4]

Why are conversations worth it? For the feedback!

Talking with the client opens the door to another incredible opportunity — immediate feedback. Listen to your customers and measure their satisfaction with every conversation. The most simple way to do so is to conclude each messaging conversation with a customer satisfaction that includes several open-ended questions. Based on the answers, you will get a picture of how your employees are doing, what is going well, and what needs to be changed. Surveys are an excellent tool for verifying customer sentiment, and this data is practically free! Our data shows that customers complete as much as 30% of post-messaging questionnaires. With several tens or hundreds of thousands of interactions, that serves as a substantial analytical source.

Conclusion: now is time for a rebirth of human conversations in banking.

Messaging applications are already widespread and their popularity won’t stop growing. Chat and video connections are highly effective customer sales and service channels.

When creating customer-centric service processes in banking, be sure to focus on convenience. By giving customers the ability to communicate via many channels, we can engage them. We can strengthen relationships by delivering empathy in all interactions — and that is the very basis of loyalty.

[1] https://kommandotech.com/statistics/online-banking-statistics/

[2] 5 Benefits Of Digital Banking – Forbes Advisor

[3] A FORRESTER TOTAL ECONOMIC IMPACT™ STUDY COMMISSIONED BY AILLERON

[4] A FORRESTER TOTAL ECONOMIC IMPACT™ STUDY COMMISSIONED BY AILLERON

Modern banking is in direct competition with fintech because regulations such as PSD2  have given new players easy access to financial products.

Fintechs and challenger banks are focused on delivering simple products and processes that allow customers (especially Generation Z and Millennials) to bank from the comfort of their couch. The main battle between traditional banks and new players is all about delivering smoother customer services.

If a bank wants to reduce customer frustration and increase satisfaction, its teams must be fully focused on the business process and customer journey. For example, let’s take a typical situation with an advanced financial product – a mortgage. A customer starts the mortgage application process by filling out a website form but runs into a technical issue while uploading her documents. The customer tries to work around the problem, but fails. She picks up the phone and calls the Contact Centre seeking help. An advisor picks up and tries to understand the problem and find solutions. 

But now, let’s imagine a different scenario. Instead of picking up the phone, the same customer clicks a button on the website to connect with an advisor – who already knows which form the customer was interacting with. The time to identify the problem and answer the customer’s questions is shortened significantly. This easier experience also means that the bank will see an increase in submissions. 

This simple example illustrates the power and beauty of merging business processes and customer service. It is all possible because cloud solutions allow for more flexibility in building business processes and, thus, customer journeys. The customer journey can be changed in a matter of minutes, not days. 

Another benefit of using cloud-based software solutions is the ability to integrate with different applications to build 360-degree customer profiles.

In the classical approach, data about any given customer is separated into different databases, one for each system. Cloud software allows banks to pull information from many applications into one space and get a much clearer picture of individual customers. Thanks to data aggregation, advisors have a powerful tool at their fingertips and are able to identify and present relevant, personalised products to banking clients. This also allows them to handle customer requests on the fly.

And bank advisors and customer support representatives aren’t the only ones to benefit. Customers who fill out the survey receive real-time feedback afterwards. In addition, customers feel that they can have a real influence on service. According to our data, the average percentage of completed surveys is 20-25% on digital channels. That means banks are receiving several thousand insights each month. This “free” data includes a net promoter score, satisfaction and comments that help banks continually improve their services.

Remember that by adding new services, banks are also adding new functionalities for customers, such as screen sharing, co-browsing, file sharing, or chat services that allow multitasking. All of these have the potential to streamline work and increase productivity in customer service and advice.

Bank advisors currently spend much of their time looking for information or directing clients to specific areas of the website. Cloud-based customer service shortens this work significantly. For example, if a client calls customer service and wants to download a financial product’s “Terms and Conditions”, the advisor will help him navigate to the right place. If, however, this interaction takes place via chat, the advisor can send the correct file or a direct link. Both customer service representatives and customers save time. Forrester analysed one of our clients and found that the productivity of advisors using LiveBank was 20% more than that of phone advisors. 

Flexibility is yet another benefit of customer services in cloud computing. A few years ago, if a bank planned to add new services, its team would spend a lot of time (days or weeks) developing changes. Now, the same changes can be carried out in a matter of minutes. This enables banks to create content and model workflows in real-time. This is a huge change in the grander scheme of planning for maintenance and upgrades. Ideas can be implemented, adapted and tested very quickly – banks can experiment in short periods of time. This is especially important in times of disruption or volatility. Banks can respond to a crisis by adding a new channel at the top of their web pages and increasing conversions from this channel.  On the other hand, in the Contact Centre, bank representatives can create a crisis team that will attend to customers’ needs as the crisis plays out.

Banks can maximise the benefits of cloud banking with a digitally-focused service vision and goal-driven strategy. Banks can succeed with a roadmap that sets out and prioritises digital initiatives. With a flexible strategy and cloud technology like LiveBank, banks can quickly adapt to changing customer expectations.

When the time comes to talk to a customer service representative, who is often working under pressure to resolve issues according to strict time targets, customers anticipate seamless and enjoyable experiences. Customers not only seek an immediate response, which is always a plus, but more often, issues arise because customers try to solve more complex problems that require more than one conversation, one contact, or even one communication channel. Many cases require comprehensive support, which means customers interact with multiple contacts in different departments.

To solve the challenges that service teams face, we’re proud to introduce the Case-Based Communication mechanism in LiveBank, which also supports other functions in the system. Thanks to this solution, all of the information from interactions triggered by messages, video/audio calls, files, and more, is included in the client case. Representatives, advisors and supervisors can easily find all of this information in one omnichannel communication hub dedicated to the specific query or based on the customer’s history. 

This helps bank advisors become orientated with each client’s situation faster, which also boosts customer service and efficient communication, regardless of which customer service agent or advisor is involved. For example, imagine a situation when one client’s usual advisor is on vacation. The Case-Based Communication mechanism allows another advisor to step in and take care of the client, as they will have access to comprehensive information on that client’s case. LiveBank also has a tool that helps to monitor agents’ work, measuring their effectiveness, creating a base for reports, and helps model processes. With these capabilities, analysing the customer experience and implementing improvements in work processes are much easier.

Thus, the system allows consultants and customer service agents to organise their work better and resolve cases more efficiently, thanks to the improved prioritisation of tasks and accounts. At the same time, supervisors can continue to assign tasks to their agents.

Are you wondering what the customer service path looks like on the example of a loan inquiry? Here’s how it works:

The client requests to speak with a customer service representative through the chat feature of the website. From the technical side, the information about the case and the topic of the conversation have been already included in the case’s properties.

  1. The client requests to speak with a customer service representative through the chat feature of the website. From the technical side, the information about the case and the topic of the conversation have been already included in the case’s properties.
  2. The case, including all interactions with the client thus far, along with a description of what is likely to be the case and a subject, are sent to the advisor. The case appears on the advisor’s dashboard with an “Open” status.

  3. The advisor serves the client using, among other things, the quick response function dedicated to the relevant type of issue. In this case, the issue type is “Loans”.
  4. The client asks the advisor to prepare a dedicated loan offer. However, the advisor needs some time to prepare all the materials and send them. The agent promises to deliver the materials the next day. The agent changes the case status to indicate that his action is required (“Pending (A)” status).

  5. The next day at work, the advisor checks the hub for issues that are still open on his TO-DO list — issues that require his attention. There, he finds the loan offer task.
  6. Once the materials are prepared, the consultant sends a follow-up chat message to the client attaching everything the client had requested. After that, the advisor changes the case status to “Pending (C)” to indicate that the case is awaiting the client’s response.

  7. After reviewing the answer, the client sends a reply to the advisor. Because the original agent assigned to the case is not available, the message is immediately sent to another advisor from the Customer Service Department. The new advisor can review the entire conversation and case history, and she can quickly take over the case.
  8. Finally, our new advisor can focus on solving the task at hand rather than deciphering scattered information. She successfully closes the case. Then the client receives a dedicated survey to gauge their satisfaction with the case.

In the LiveBank solution, we provide a case module adapted to the role (e.g., advisor, supervisor) of the employee in the organisation. A total view of all historical conversations with customers in our module makes it easier for all bank teams to complete their work.  Remember that all activities (messages, video/audio calls, files) are swiftly assigned to their relevant cases. Moreover, if a particular case involves more than one connection with one or more representatives, its entire history is available for your bank teams to see. Our hub allows representatives to quickly recover information associated with a particular case and allows supervisors to verify the accuracy and quality of the information provided by agents.

This is just one example of how you can take advantage of Case-Based Communications. We hope you like our solution, but we are always open to feedback and inspiration from our partners to constantly improve our products. 

If you’d like to see Case-Based Communications in action, contact one of our representatives today.

LiveBank supports its Clients with experience and knowledge of business processes in the area of finance to help in digital transformation while going into the cloud at the same time. We provide a reliable and secure solution that supports the development of processes based on communication in digital channels. By moving to the cloud, Banks gain the opportunity to accelerate the implementation of new solutions and streamline the customer service process.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the most important aspects in our Clients’ business parameters, especially those whose services are in the digital channels have increased from several dozens to the highs of 380% on one market. There has been double the increase in the number of interactions supported through the digital channels amongst our Clients between 2021 and 2022 and the upward trend continues.

“One of the main benefits is that customers can use the LiveBank-enabled processes remotely from their homes or wherever they are. So from the customer perspective, it was a huge gain.”  – project manager in European retail bank

The rapid increase in interactions in digital media was an enormous challenge for the Banks, both in terms of organization (additional training for the staff, etc.) and technical resources (servers, network load, hardware). The procedures for acquiring new technological solutions have also changed – due to the business needs – solutions that can be implemented immediately are sought. The availability of the LiveBank cloud solution is a natural response to the changing and more demanding market environment. LiveBank ensures the scalability of its solution and the flexibility offered thanks to the possibility of implementation in the cloud.

The challenge faced by the Banks is related to the rescaling of technical resources in line with the changing needs of the business.

Activities pertaining to business rescaling require detailed analysis (e.g. determining whether the increase in resource use will be temporary or will remain at the new level), securing budgets for modernization (usually a large amount), purchase of equipment and its installation – this requires time and thus delays achieving business goals. After making the investment, the increasing costs of infrastructure servicing should be taken into account, along with the need to monitor and update the software per station/device.

The LiveBank cloud solution is more cost-effective compared to the cost of investing in infrastructure. About 80% of the total project cost goes to the on-prem solution, hardware, as well as configuration, and integration. This cost structure resulted in large expenses incurred at the initial stage of the project. Looking at the cloud solution, and especially in the privet cloud solution, these costs are very limited, as the main cost is the license. The serverless approach allows for significant improvement in the areas of scaling the application, monitoring, security, and speed of implementing the changes, as well as control over costs.

These are not all the benefits that an organization achieves thanks to the implementation of digital channels. According to the Forrester report: “the shift from phone to chat has enabled customer support and decreased the time spent per request by about 20%. Customer support agents were able to work on up to three requests simultaneously via chat and especially smaller requests were handled faster.”

LiveBank helps to accelerate the pace of transformation carried out inside the organization by giving the opportunity to take advantage of the cloud-native approach. Cloud technology provides adequate flexibility in the field of business processes and will create opportunities for rapid development and automation of many processes in the coming years.