Top Four Banking Trends for Improving the Customer Experience in 2020
The last few years have brought tremendous innovation, disruption and change to the financial services sector. From the advent of fintech start-ups, to increasingly higher consumer expectations, to greater adoption of technologies such as artificial intelligence.
Add to that the unprecedented situation the recent coronavirus crisis has unveiled, banks and credit unions are now further forced to condense what would have been years of change into months. Changes like fast-tracking digital transformation to enable customers and members to do 100% of their banking remotely and getting creative with how to offer personal service in the new socially distant world.
There’s been so much change that it’s difficult to not feel overwhelmed or downright intimidated. If you are though, you are not alone. As a matter of fact, according to PwC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey, 81% of banking CEOs are concerned about the speed of technological change, more than any other industry sector. And that was before the current pandemic crisis. One can only imagine that percentage has increased.
One thing does remain the same, at the core of all this fast-paced technological change and macro-economic conditions, is customer experience.
With so many predictions and trends swirling around, we’ve picked the top 4 we think are most important for banks and credit unions to pay attention to—and act on—in 2020. Note—they don’t involve blockchain or FinTechs, but rather key, yet manageable tweaks you can make to improve customer experience in the current environment and post COVID-19 world.
Trend 1: Putting Big Data & Analytics to Use
Many industry analysts and sources have (yet again) named “big data” a trend for banking in 2020. Financial institutions should be tracking data. This is nothing new as we’ve all heard it umpteen times before, but what can it look like in a practical application for banks and credit unions?
One manageable place to start is with customer feedback, but think beyond big annual NPS surveys. Collect customer feedback wherever you can. That includes the content on your website mobile, and other digital channels. As customers use your content to learn about your products, services, and offers, incorporate a rating mechanism to learn how helpful support resources are to your customers, and how they can be improved. Even a simple “thumbs up /thumbs down” system could reveal insights to your team about where there is an opportunity to improve content, and ultimately the customer experience.
Consider a similar content feedback mechanism for your employees, too. Harness the power of your frontline employees by giving them the ability to provide feedback on content such as policies and procedures in real-time with a content rating and feedback system. As employees routinely reference
and use content, they can help identify potential holes, confusing information or even erroneous information. Take it a step further and look for procedure management tools that synthesize this data with analytics and reporting.
Trend 2: Delivering on the Omnichannel Promise
Omnichannel is certainly not a new buzzword or trend for 2020, but the expectation to deliver is now ubiquitous among consumers. We all know it; customers want to interact and reach out to you on their terms, so financial institutions have to offer and support a wide array of channels. If a customer begins a journey in a branch and resumes it at home on their smartphone, the content and experience not only need to be present on all channels, they need to be consistent.
While the applications needed to truly deliver on an omnichannel strategy might be a bigger initiative, the one area that you can more easily improve in 2020 is support information.
The majority of banks and credit unions have different information living on different channels, creating a lot of inconsistency and confusion for your customers. Consistency is key in ensuring a satisfactory customer experience.
No matter how big or small, many financial institutions still struggle with managing and deploying content consistently. Two of the top frustrations for banking customers are getting the runaround and non-proactive experiences. The root of these issues? Customers can’t easily find answers themselves, so they are forced to call or visit you. And most employees can’t easily find and follow policies and procedures to provide the answers your customers need.
Delivering this requires one central knowledge base to manage, approve and deploy content out across all your digital channels (website, mobile and online banking). This holds true for the resources your frontline staff rely on to easily find policy and procedure information.
Read More: The Rise of Contactless Payments
Trend 3: Get In With Artificial Intelligence & Empower Your Customer
A top trend for 2020 is furthering automation and getting smarter while doing so, particularly with artificial intelligence (AI). In its Financial Services Technology 2020 and Beyond report, PwC predicts “AI, machine learning, and customer analytics to become the driver of client engagement over the next decade.”
As more and more financial institutions invest in AI to automate processes and basic customer service inquiries, the cost savings could be astronomical. Business Insider estimates that the potential cost savings for banks from AI applications to be $447 billion by 2023.
Instead of investing years and millions of dollars into a sophisticated AI project, you can start with a smaller, more manageable project of leveraging a support chatbot to guide your customers. A recent Comm100 study found that chatbots were able to handle 69% of chats from start to finish, earning an average satisfaction rate of 88%. While much news has been made of the robustness of Bank of America’s Erica chatbot, there are now chatbot solutions aimed at the small and mid-tier market today that can get you started with chatbots and AI.
Tools like support chatbots provide another interface for your customers to interact with you. They can be used to answer basic questions (i.e. routing number, reset password), act as a navigational tool to direct customers (i.e. rates, hours of operation, schedule an appointment) or provide contextual support as users are exploring specific sections (i.e. how to make a transfer).
In addition to the improved customer experience and lowered support costs associated, financial institutions also get the much-needed visibility into what customers are looking for across your digital channels. This is where AI comes into play – the learning overtime to ensure your support and experience is constantly evolving.
Trend 4: Increase Your Aptitude for Connectivity
One of the biggest challenges with banking today is how “closed” it is. Legacy systems, siloed information, siloed departments, etc. have created a demand, and hence a market for what we know today as “open banking” – the use of APIs that enable third-parties to connect applications and services around an existing financial institution, allowing for greater transparency of options for customers.
While calling for a massive overhaul of your systems and integrations may be in order at some point, in the short term you can focus on improving the connectivity within the support and customer service assets your institution already has.
Start with making support content accessible from mobile and online banking and using basic links to the content and tools you already have. Your customers spend 70-80% of their banking time using online and mobile banking, but most financial institutions silo access across different digital applications, therefore limiting the overall adoption and usage.
Provide “back doors” to basic information such as hours of operation, branch locations, schedule an appointment, open an account / apply for a loan, FAQs, etc. in the places where they frequent the most – mobile and online banking. Using basic links, anticipate what customers may be looking for in mobile or online banking context and supplement it with helpful links to related resources or intuitive next steps. Think: Content + action-oriented next step like account opening or scheduling an appointment = excellent customer experience.
The trends for banking in 2020 are not the easiest pill to swallow, especially for the small and mid-sized banks and credit unions of the world. With greater competition in the financial services sector from fintechs and non-traditional players, increasing consumer demands, and quickly emerging technologies, the path to survival—let alone success—can very easily seem daunting.
On the other hand, at the core of these trends is a tenant that has been central to financial services for decades—customer service. The outlook for these banking trends can be seen as an opportunity for banks and credit unions to finally pull the trigger on much-needed change, and it can all begin with small changes that are manageable in scope and incremental in the positive impact they may have on your customers’ banking experience.’