It’s no secret that the retail banking sector is currently going through one of its most challenging periods to date, but aside from an uncertain economic climate, shifts in technology have changed what it means for banks to be successful and satisfying in the eyes of their customers.
During a recent Business Reporter breakfast briefing hosted by Genesys in London this year, senior executives from major UK banks were in consensus that omnichannel customer engagement is, for most of them, the holy grail of customer service, and one of the best strategies for retail banks to deliver on customer expectations.
With $50 billion being spent in the financial industry, it’s not a new phenomenon to make great customer experience a business priority. Here are some of the key statistics we rely on when implementing customer engagement solutions for our retail banking customers:
- 66% of customers prefer talking to a real person
- Less than 50% of customers say they are satisfied with their banking service
- Customer experience can have a 40% impact on revenue
- 83% of customers are happy to deal with call centre operators
UK retail banks and omnichannel customer engagement
At the briefing, each of the banks shared some of their observations, challenges and lessons following the delivery of omnichannel customer engagement to their customers:
- They had expected everyone to want to move to digital channels but some groups, notably older people, prefer to do their banking in a branch.
- Perhaps unexpectedly, some young people want a face-to-face experience too.
- “Can you afford a great branch network and call centres and digital?” For many banks, the answer is no.
- Although young people are digitally savvy, they are not “banking savvy” and therefore seek someone to guide them as they take more control of their finances.
- In the future artificial intelligence can be used more to tailor customer experience so that journeys are personalised and customers can make the transaction they want to make with the minimum steps.
- You need staff who are both highly skilled and multi-skilled and you need to balance supply and demand so that there is always someone available to deal with an enquiry.
- People prefer different channels for different interactions.
- Transferring money to someone is a task that should be done as quickly and simply as possible, which today means on a mobile device.
- However, taking out a mortgage probably involves more questions and so requires at least a voice call and perhaps a face-to-face interaction.
3 key challenges and lessons
By and large everyone agreed that it’s perhaps the worst for banks: you need to be able to provide a wide range of contact channels to a wide variety of demographics.
1. Key Challenge: Balance high tech needs with legacy technology
More complicated still is the fact that you need to accommodate people who start off on one channel and then want to switch to another.
For example, verification processes prevent most banking customers who transfer from channel to another to have a truly seamless experience, where the person answering the call knows about their activity history, what they are trying to do and the needs of the customer.
This is down to technological capabilities, for the most part, as a lot of banks rely on legacy systems that connect to more advanced technology, which in turn connect to huge, separate siloes of data. Where the technology is older it predates the needs of modern banking customers, and there is a lack of alignment of information in order to create that seamless experience.
2. Key Challenge: Find the right balance of the highly-skilled and multi-skilled
The recruitment needs of call centres have changed: Banks now need a roster of staff who can handle complex transactions at a moment’s notice, as they must always have someone available to deal with an enquiry. This is a far cry from the historic demands for large numbers of low skilled workers. This is an expensive element of delivering omnichannel, and a real challenge for banks who want to deliver round the clock service for their customers.
3. Key Challenge: Meeting expectations while remaining fair and compliant
One executive from Link Financial made this important point when talking about regulatory issues resulting from customer expectations for faster, omnichannel style service: “Treating the customer fairly doesn’t just mean doing what the customer wants.”
In other words, you might want to smoothly carry on your loan application after calling your bank, but the bank has a regulatory duty to ensure that, first, it isn’t giving your personal data to a stranger and, second, that you fully understand the financial commitment that you are undertaking.
An executive from Cannacord Genuity highlighted that the industry as a whole needs to collaborate more and liaise with regulators to smooth the way where possible, and that while regulators are aware of the need to shift more transactions to digital, in some areas the system is still built for face-to-face interactions that no longer happen.
What the future holds
For now, though, the financial services industry is in an intense period of change. Serving the customer better means technological changes, recruitment changes and maintaining as many channels as possible. There is little certainty regarding the answers.
Optimising the customer experience can be complex, but it is entirely possible with the right software and omnichannel strategy. You can get started by reading our recent white paper on customer CX to learn more.