The banking world is changing fast. With the era of open banking upon us and a growing number of ‘challenger banks’ and fintech providers emerging to shake up the established order, traditional financial services firms will need to take a close look at how they operate in order to keep up.
The fact is that it’s no longer enough to just offer the basics. Today’s customers want to know they’re cared about and understood on a more personal level than ever before. In an age of instant gratification, social media and smartphones, people expect a high quality of service wherever and whenever they are.
Banks have to respond to this, and the contact centre will be on the front line as more consumers favour digital options rather than going into a branch. So what will they have to do in order to stand out in this extremely crowded marketplace?
Here are five key trends financial services providers must respond to in 2017.
- Added value to be a key selling point
While price will still be an important consideration when people are looking for financial products, it is no longer a primary consideration. Indeed, even when it comes to current accounts, the growing popularity of fee-paying accounts that can offer extra rewards as an alternative to traditional free banking illustrates this.
This extends to the contact centre as well. When customers get in touch with their bank, agents should be trying to do much more than simply answer their queries. With the latest generation of analytics and CRM solutions, they should be able to offer a range of add-ons that are ideally tailored to each customer. With Microsoft’s 2016 State of Customer Service survey finding that 54 per cent of Brits have higher expectations than ever before – and 68 per cent taking their business elsewhere because of a poor experience, improving the value on offer will be essential.
- More personalisation
This leads directly into the second trend – personalisation. Given the amount of information businesses are now able to gather on their customers, there should be no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution in today’s environment. Instead, every interaction needs to be unique to the individual customer. The benefits of doing so can be huge, as a study by Forrester Research suggests more than three-quarters of people (77 per cent) will choose, recommend, or pay more for a brand that provides a personalised experience.
This can be as simple as studying a person’s contact patterns so they can predict what a person will be looking for as soon as they get in touch – allowing the bank to act proactively in order to provide a better service, or enable agents to provide unique offers for more complex products such as loans, in the knowledge that it will be suited to the customer and there is minimal chance of applications being rejected.
- The rise of the chatbot
True AI is still a way off becoming a reality for day-to-day activities, but the latest generation of chatbots can do a pretty good impression of it. These technologies will be increasingly used by banks at the first point of contact for customers, enabling straightforward transactions to be handled smoothly without the need for human intervention.
As well as providing info on balances and help with payments, this technology could even be used for more complex decisions such as giving mortgage and loan advice. And people won’t be put off by the lack of human involvement, as a recent study by Accenture found seven out of ten people are open to receiving advice from ‘robo-advisers’.
- It’s not just the phone
Contact centres may well have already adjusted to the reality that the phone is now just one of many channels that consumers expect to use when they have a query, but in 2017, the balance will shift even further towards tools such as social media and live chat. Microsoft’s survey found that millennials – those aged between 18 and 34 – typically use five different channels for customer service, including the phone, online chat and web support portals.
For banks, it’s not enough just to offer these as options. They must be tightly integrated into a fully-functional omni-channel environment that lets people jump between channels as and when it is appropriate, without having to repeat information or experience any drop in the level of service they receive.
- Speed will be key
One of the consequences of technologies such as smartphones and social media is that people are now connected at all times, and expect the companies they contact to do likewise. Contact centres have made great strides in recent years with tools that can redirect calls to the most appropriate agent or call individuals back in order to reduce wait times and ensure queries can be answered as quickly as possible.
This now needs to extend to every other part of the omni-channel environment. So if a user sends a message via social media, for example, they should only have to wait minutes for a response, not hours or days. Last year, a study by Eptica found the average response time for an email query actually increased by five hours, with response times ranging from just a couple of minutes to more than four days. This won’t be acceptable in 2017, for any channel.
Learn more about Customer Service in the Finance Service Sector
- The power of personalisation in customer experience - June 17, 2019
- Mayday, mayday: Coping with an influx in your customer interactions - May 6, 2019
- Channel shift: customers like it, but only on their own terms! - April 16, 2019