Digital by Default: Communication, Collaboration & the Banking Process

Customers’ everyday interactions with banking and insurance companies have been undergoing a steady process of transformation for some time, but the process still has far to go, both in terms of direct communication with customers and collaboration with third parties. Below Tony Rich, Head of Propositions at Unify, discusses the current banking environment and its ongoing interactions […]

Customers’ everyday interactions with banking and insurance companies have been undergoing a steady process of transformation for some time, but the process still has far to go, both in terms of direct communication with customers and collaboration with third parties. Below Tony Rich, Head of Propositions at Unify, discusses the current banking environment and its ongoing interactions with a fast-evolving digital world.

Far fewer people now regularly visit or phone the local branch of their bank than even a decade ago, assuming there is one close by. I can pay money into my account at an ATM and arrange transactions just using my mobile app and a thumb print as security.

But bigger change is still to come. Today, when I interact with someone at my bank or insurer, I can choose to make a phone call or have a web chat, but as soon as I need a document or to speak to someone else, that conversation stops. Interactions can still be fragmented and time consuming. If I need to sign or check something, even if the document is held for me on a secure portal as some insurance companies now do, the process is very disjointed.

Let’s roll the clock forward a little to a time when cloud-based collaboration technology will make things much more seamless. Imagine I want to apply for a mortgage, or file a complaint, or make an insurance claim. My initial contact will start in the same way as now (say, a phone call) because it’s the one I am most comfortable with. But from there, things look very different.

I am immediately sent a link to a secure digital space where all interactions, conversations, documents and transactions about this particular process (my mortgage, complaint or claim) are stored and instantly accessible. Now, at any point, I can switch to a voice call, or a chat box, or a video call with two or more people. All this is done within the same secure online space, accessible through my mobile, tablet or PC. Here, at any time, I can hear a recording of the original call, see any documents I need to review and sign, talk to other relevant contacts, and so on. And when my case is complete, it can be archived to meet all auditing and compliance requirements.

This is a leaner procedure, with less to-ing and fro-ing, and document distribution and version control is easier. For customers and staff alike, it’s a more joined up, better and faster experience. For the company, a streamlined, friction-free process increases efficiency and drives down costs.

Multiple benefits

Given the challenges that all banks and insurers face – getting costs under control, protecting their brand, retaining and attracting customers and staff, achieving leaner agile operations while meeting regulatory requirements and compliance – it’s easy to see how this kind of immersive omni-channel experience could help address every single one. So, what’s needed for online communication and collaboration to be the norm?

The airline industry has already blazed a trail in creating more joined up omni-channel customer experiences. When I fly, part of my journey now is my ability to print or download my own travel documents, choose my seat, check myself in online or at a kiosk, and so on. I feel more empowered and in control – and the airline has enhanced its brand and achieved major efficiencies at the same time.

Key differentiator

In financial services, perhaps, things are in a state of transition. Internally, delivering more immersive customer experiences requires organisational and cultural change to think, connect and collaborate digitally by default. As far as customers are concerned, success depends on making sure the experience is easy and available to them in whatever channel is right for them. Older people, for example, might prefer phone calls and printable web pages. Digital natives, on the other hand, are savvy at reading and absorbing information direct from the screen and are more likely to initiate any communication digitally, including via social media.

Omni-channel communication and collaboration platforms are already in use at banks and insurance companies and new applications of this technology is being tested and developed every day. Extending platforms out into the customer space is a logical next step as the world becomes ever more connected. And in a fast-changing market and with the arrival of Open Banking driving new services, unified omni-channel experiences could be a key differentiator for any player looking to compete.

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