Digital transformation has significantly impacted the way that consumers live and communicate today. It’s no secret that advancements in technology over the last decade have impacted industries across the board, altering the way in which consumers now prefer to communicate with the companies they do business with. COVID-19 has impacted businesses across the globe over the last year, making consumer preferences for digital communications only grow stronger. However, the shift to digital did not necessarily come as a surprise – especially to the financial services industry, which saw a significant shift to digital interactions even before the pandemic. According to Business Insider Intelligence’s Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Study, 89% of survey respondents said they used mobile banking in 2019.
Today, online and mobile banking usage is continuing to increase as consumers either avoid or at least limit in-person visits to a bank branch and, therefore, rely more heavily on technology to accomplish their financial needs. Since the trend of replacing many in-person bank experiences with digital experiences seems to be here to stay long after the pandemic ends, banks are reevaluating their digital banking strategy. As more communication takes place digitally, banks have a need to ensure a positive customer experience – just as they would for in-person interactions at the branch. The distinction between physical and digital customer experiences should become blurred as banks look to achieve branch transformation to meet new customer expectations.
Digital Customer Service (DCS) Works for Transactional Communications
As banks continue to close branches or limit hours of operation, the need for branch transformation has become even more apparent than it was prior to the pandemic, but rather by way of transforming digital customer experiences versus altering physical bank branches. The ultimate goal of today’s branch transformation is to make digital experiences as easy, effective and engaging as physical, in-branch experiences – so much so that it is hard for the consumer to acknowledge the difference. As digital transformation continues to push on, further accelerated by COVID-19, it is helpful for banks to consider different types of customer interactions as they evolve from serving customers transactionally through DCS to building more significant relationships through collaborative banking communications.
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Transactional banking, where customers can briefly exchange information with a bank representative to solve basic customer queries and discrete problems, emphasizes the branch’s response to through text-based, messaging-first modes of communication. These types of interactions rely strongly on a bank’s digital customer service, thereby improving the connection that customers have with their financial institution even while communicating digitally.
Consider the following use case that demonstrates a transactional banking interaction: A customer notices an unknown/suspicious charge on their debit card and reaches out to their bank branch over chat to notify them of the problem. The bank representative (or possibly even chatbot) responds to the customer digitally, likely to solving the issue in a matter of just a few quick exchanges of communication. This style of interaction certainly meets the customer’s needs but leaves much room for the bank to improve by way of their overall transformation strategy.
Collaboration is Key for More Complex Banking Matters
As banks drive branch transformation to blur the distinction between physical and digital experiences, they must make the shift from focusing on chat-based digital customer service to focusing on collaborative communications with consumers to help them accomplish their goals. Today, banks focusing on branch transformation are turning to unified communications (UC) solutions that arm their employees with a full suite of communication modes, helping them meet consumer expectations for communicating in their preferred media mode to best collaborate on complex banking matters.
Consider the use case of a customer looking to apply for a mortgage to purchase their first home. Likely, the customer will have numerous questions that they are looking not only for answers to, but are also interested in receiving advice from the bank representative. For a complex banking matter such as loan origination, the ability to have more collaborative exchanges, where the consumer and banker can communicate back and forth over audio or video results in a better customer experience and enables the representative to be more efficient/effective.
As banks develop a digital banking strategy while working towards branch transformation, placing an emphasis on the partnership between bankers and their customers ultimately results in helping customers accomplish big goals, such as buying a home or starting a small business. Helping customers achieve tangible goals reaps significant benefits for the financial institution.
As banks drive branch transformation, the focus on collaborative digital communications is critical to integrating physical and digital customer experiences.
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