July 13, 2023
When Microsoft solicited feedback from financial services leaders in late 2022 for its third annual survey of the sector, respondents overwhelmingly agreed that “financial services organizations will be unifying in-person and digital services in 2023. They want to provide their customers with a seamless and consistent experience, no matter the channel.”
Accomplishing that, the survey goes on to explain, will involve AI-supported customer engagement (for call centers and data analysis), as well as consistent and flexible omnichannel CX that hits major consumer touchpoints. In order to make all of that happen, nearly half of survey respondents were planning to increase their CX budgets for this year (2023).
Here are some significant ways in which the financial sector will focus more on customer experience in 2023 and beyond.
Call Center Experience
Delivering a consistently great call center experience is of particular concern, the Microsoft survey notes. Which is why “most of the respondents have integrated a CRM into their call center resources, improved agent training and implemented interactive voice response (IVR) and automated call distribution (ACD) technologies into their call-handling operations. About half of the respondents are also using call scoring or other evaluation methods to identify areas of improvement in their customer calls (51%). Furthermore, exactly half of the respondents are using call center integrations to streamline customer calls, regardless of which channel the customer uses.”
Moreover, some experts say, call centers must embrace cloud technology like never before. “While on-premises solutions provide control over call center operations, they lack the agility to deliver on changing customer and employee expectations,” Biz Tech Magazine notes. “As a result, cloud-based solutions are now critical to scale services on-demand and ensure that call center teams can access key functions wherever they choose to work.”
By the end of 2024, according to Gartner, banking-as-a-service will be the norm at banks with greater than $1 billion in assets. Other improvements include more sophisticated chat functionality, public cloud banking and social messaging payments apps.
“Most people do not want to go into a bank to do banking. They want to be able to do everything on a mobile phone or a smart portal,” Nilendu Pattanaik, Global Head of Business Applications Practice, Microsoft Business Unit, at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), told CIO.com. He added, “Most banks have very old infrastructure that doesn’t produce the data they need to effectively engage with customers.”
That same old infrastructure is also a problem when it comes to maintaining secure and compliant environments, while preventing rampant fraud that can have a huge negative impact financially and reputationally. As a result, customer confidence and satisfaction plummet.
CX through Compliance
In a recent McKinsey article, the authors make a case for better banking CX through compliance improvements. “Banks need processes that deliver a good customer experience in the moment, treat customers fairly, protect against fraud, and comply with laws and other regulations,” they write. “Poorly designed compliance processes can compromise the experience, but insufficient checks can open the door to fraud or other abuses. Deep collaboration by compliance and business teams can capture opportunities as well as protect the downside.” Getting that started, the authors go on, requires that compliance and business operations unite to “initiate a review of priority client-facing processes. The effort may identify opportunities for improving user experience through simplification or rationalization of controls—for example, by removing redundant or overlapping controls.”
The Human Touch
Among a dozen CX trends to watch in 2023, this in-depth Hitachi Solutions article says humanized digitalization will allow banks to “offer a mix of AI and live support for customer service, generating efficiency gains while still providing customers with the kind of personal touch they crave. Some financial institutions have taken this concept a step further, experimenting with different methods to make their chatbots and other AI services feel more human; examples include giving chatbots personalities, using customized conversation openings, and leveraging sentiment analysis to detect emotion and respond appropriately.”
The article also stresses the importance of greater transparency around data usage. The vast majority of customers, per KPMG research, say they’re increasingly concerned about how their data is handled and safeguarded. “Not only is being open and honest about your data policies and practices an easy way to show goodwill and earn trust, it’s also a requirement for certain regulations.”
The Right Partners
Another key to delivering top-notch CX, according to this insightful Ring Central blog, is finding the right partners. “The old adage, ‘You can’t be all things to all people,’ fits the current financial services climate,” author and fintech leader Matt Lehman writes. “Stringent regulations and uncertain economic conditions put stress on organizations to deliver a great customer experience even while controlling costs. In response, some organizations have cut underperforming business units and products and concentrated efforts on their core customers.
“Narrowing your strategy,” Lehman goes on, “makes it simpler to develop successful, repeatable, customer-facing processes. Employees have a clearer sense of how their roles align with organizational objectives. Streamlined products and interactions give employees more opportunities to practice and review critical CX tasks.”
In the end, the aforementioned Microsoft survey concludes, deploying more digital technology in the name of better CX works well only if it’s underpinned by solid core processes and complemented by humans. It must also take into account each user’s unique needs.
“Personalization of virtual interactions with customers,” one C-suite executive told Microsoft, “is the most competitive CX innovation in the financial industry.”
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