Human conversations in digital banking — A relic of the past or a rebirth?

We are witnessing profound changes in how customers use banking services. There has been a shift toward everything virtual. From retail to professional services to health and education, almost all sectors offer all or part of their services online. Customers’ attitudes have changed, and they now prefer to have the option to take care of business online.

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

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