Customer experience is paramount to the financial services industry, particularly during the pandemic. With the majority of businesses moving online and the increasing use of apps and digital-based services, customer journeys within finance are being redefined.
Anurag Bhatia is Senior Vice President and Head of Europe at Mphasis, a technology services company. He has over 22 years in experience and is responsible for driving the overall growth for all markets and services in the UK & European region.
Here he shares his thoughts on customer experience and how financial organisations will look to re-establish their role post-Covid.
Many financial services enterprises have prioritised the transformation of customer experience and customer service practices as a result of the pandemic. Today the remote-work culture, focus on health, and increasing use of smartphone applications are redefining customer journeys for financial institutions. Several other factors such as age—where youth unemployment is on the rise and mid-career professionals are keen on saving—are more pronounced in shaping a customer’s perception of a financial brand today.
Investing in customer experience is essential and will play a critical role in how financial organisations re-establish their role in society after the COVID-19 crisis. Here are three essentials for the next-gen customer engagement paradigm:
Quick and User-Friendly Digital Services
Many companies have responded to the increased digitalisation necessitated by the pandemic with their digital products and services. However, gaps in customers experience persist, as recent findings reveal that 41 per cent of Europeans are unable to access financial services due to the pandemic.
The successful transition to digital without compromising the customer experience will be crucial in the coming weeks and months. With the number of online and mobile banking users, potentially reaching 3.6 billion by 2024, financial companies need to adapt and strengthen their understanding of the new changes in customer behaviour caused by the pandemic. They can gain insights by adopting analytical thinking, using AI-driven data management, and developing the right customer loyalty strategy for the future.
At the same time, handling the increasing volumes of loan applications and financial queries has become a priority. For instance, HSBC has opened new business accounts at a faster-than-usual rate during the pandemic. And EY Item Club forecasts that business lending will grow by 14.4% this year. Crisis-hit customers need quick solutions, and the provision of fast registrations, account openings and support will enhance customer experiences further. Newer digital touchpoints on smartphones, computers, and kiosks (installed in locations such as supermarkets to offer services of a bank’s branch) will make it easier for customers to connect with institutions. With more than a third of UK bank branches shutting down in the last five years and the pandemic reinforcing the paradigm shift towards digital channels, physical visits to branches will drastically come down even in the post-pandemic world. Lloyds Bank, for instance, has leveraged cloud and software applications that will give its employees a modern digital workplace, including productivity tools and security solutions to serve customers better.
A friendly omnichannel experience across all physical and digital touchpoints will take customer experiences to new levels. Enterprises looking to create such experiences will need to invest in design thinking, analytics, and natural language processing to build hyper-personalised services for customers.
New Services for COVID-Driven Shifts
Today, ATM usage has plummeted and resulted in an increase in payments through online, mobile and cards. Contactless payment options where customers scan QR codes from smartphone apps to make a payment are gaining popularity. At the same time, millennial and Generation Z cohorts are increasingly embracing the app world. Payments via apps are becoming vital when it comes to how consumers make purchases and interact with their friends and communities.
A good example is the Royal Bank of Scotland’s new initiative called ‘Banking my way.’ It allows customers with special needs, health conditions or changed circumstances to tailor how they interact with the bank7. The initiative is helpful as visiting banks and handling cash have become risky.
Investments in cognitive computing platforms and cloud infrastructure will be crucial to transforming operations. Next-gen application management capabilities will help enterprises differentiate themselves in the crowded marketplace. These capabilities will catalyse continuous application evolution, agility, and integrated processes that are key to thriving in the digital world.
Top Priority of Security
The rising tide of digital and mobile payments has also brought security issues to the forefront of customer engagement. Multifactor authentication and risk mitigation are a must to ensure secure transactions regardless of which instrument is used by the issuer, acquirer, or consumer.
A good identity access management programme is at the heart of seamless customer experience. It must ensure customers have seamless experiences while interacting with an enterprise’s digital assets, providing security infrastructure that allows API-based partner service integration, addressing security and privacy requirements, and remaining developer-friendly with customer experience at its core.
Overall, customer journey mapping will become vital in crafting next-gen customer experiences. Enterprises must reconfigure product development and operations in line with customer journeys to create fast, hyper-personalised, and secure experiences. Until now, financial enterprises like banks have tried to enhance customer experiences at specific touchpoints. However, now they need to consider the entire customer journey from people, process, and technology perspectives. Every employee from the CxO to the developer and business analyst should understand the customer journey to be able to build a futuristic enterprise.