In this tough economic climate, there’s no doubting that customers are looking for ways to minimise expenses wherever possible against the rising costs of living. Banks have a key role to play in supporting consumers and especially those most vulnerable who are struggling to afford basics such as rent, energy and food.
People don’t forget poor service – they talk and news travels fast which means that if banks aren’t providing great sales and service, customers may be tempted to switch or at the very least vent via a social media channel. In the age of stiff competition from challenger banks continuously raising the bar for gain share of the customer market – and in some markets they are gaining up to 30% of new business – there’s an urgent need for banks to innovate.
The best way to avoid this customer turnover is for banks to use the right tools to optimise services and sales. There’s really only one answer to this going alongside superior people management and that is AI-driven agile low-code software. AI isn’t a magic wand and needs to be deployed in a smart and strategic way that supports people to do the best job possible.
Banks should use AI to drive real-time decision making, while also increasing the availability of personalised services across multiple channels. Improved personalised services can increase the feeling of empathy. They can enable you to outreach at scale, for example suggesting options for help with cashflow needs online direct through a bank app but also with the option of talking to the right person to get advice. There’s never been a more important time to ensure the right interaction is happening at the right time and getting the mix right of what should be automated compared to where in-person help is needed is critical.
AI-powered automation can make it easier for service agents to suggest the next best interaction they should take to service customers in the best way, making them feel reassured that they are in good hands. For example, deploying voice AI, which listens to the conversation, captures action items in real-time and completes them in the background – removing the chance of human error and raising the quality of service as employees focus on the ‘human’ side of communications.
All banks right now are focused on potential loan losses, areas of their portfolios which may become stressed over the coming months of difficult economic conditions. So, it becomes more important to think about how the customer can come first in sales and service. One way of doing this is to ensure there is a real cross-channel approach that means customers can reach out on any channel they feel comfortable, and also shift easily between. The temptation is to look for the lowest cost to serve channel, but in times of economic stress the choice – of both the customer and the bank – to get the best outcome is more important.
An agile software strategy can put this into practice if it leads to the development of a single central hub for customer information, avoiding building logic and data into each channel. This can ensure customers are able to choose their preferred method of contacting their bank. Whether text, phone, website, social media or something else, customers should be able to switch between them without seeing a drop off in the customer experience.
Customer service should not be viewed as transactional process between banks and customers, especially in tough economic times. If banks are willing to go the extra mile and offer services that really help their customers in a time of need, they will strengthen the partnerships with customers. It starts to reinforce a value exchange that doesn’t come off one sided towards the bank but rather focused on the customer first. Great customer sales and service is well beyond a commoditised banking landscape. It’s really important to support and advise on areas like saving, investing, borrowing and transactions, during the current cost-of-living crisis.
To stay ahead, there’s a need to invest in modernising IT systems in order to offer the services customers want now and in future, or risk falling behind the competition. More and more customers are avoiding face to face banking and now use banks like Atom, or Monzo, or Venmo and N26 which currently allows customers to make payments through conversations with Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. But it’s not just about convenience banking and digital enablement. A true extended fully featured product and service bank needs the right balance between automation, self-service and in person assistance and advice. That’s the edge needed for a leading financial institution, and one that puts the customer at the centre of great sales and service.