Digital Collaboration and Banking: The Partnership Saving the Industry

The banking industry is changing at rapid speed, due to economic uncertainties, increased customer expectation and the ever-evolving competitive landscape – not to mention the changes that everyone has experienced this year.

The unsteady nature of this sector pushes banking institutions to stay on top of their game to ensure business continuity and their most important asset – the customer – remains satisfied. In particular, in the last few months the ongoing pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on customers and the companies that seek to support them. As brick-and-mortar locations and offices closed down, or vastly curtailed their face-to-face operations, nearly everyone was doing business from home.

As a result, like many industries, banks had to completely restructure the way they do business, with scores of bank branches either closing or restricting opening hours due to the virus. Therefore, new methods had to be adopted to serve customers and to ensure that the experience they have doesn’t suffer. This is where digital collaboration comes into play. Ryan Lester, Senior Director of Customer Experience Technologies at LogMeIn, examines how digital collaboration can help banks rise to the challenge of meeting customer demands in unprecedented times.

24/7 expectation and frictionless service 

At the height of the pandemic, people were encouraged to use online banking, as telephone contact was under increasing strain with long waiting times becoming the norm. According to Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), which works with 50 of the world’s largest banks, there was a 200% jump in new mobile banking registrations in early April, while mobile banking traffic rose 85%.

With branches remaining closed, customers were continuously being urged to limit the amount of calls they made to the most urgent cases and consider whether they could solve their answers through mobile online banking or checking the company website. Although already being adopted in pockets of the industry, this was a real catalyst that spurred banks to up their game on digital channels and with self-service tools.

According to Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), which works with 50 of the world’s largest banks, there was a 200% jump in new mobile banking registrations in early April, while mobile banking traffic rose 85%.

Banks are challenged with precariously balancing customer needs with the cost of personalised support. With the demographic of customers changing over the last few years, customers are becoming increasingly younger and more comfortable with technology. Influenced by the “Amazon Effect”, their expectations have risen to an all-time high, placing record strain on the sector.

Customer experience isn’t just about support anymore, it’s about serving your customer at every point in the journey. Companies have an opportunity to elevate the experience they provide by moving beyond one-and-done interactions to create continuous engagements with their customers. It is starting to become a primary competitive differentiator in the market and one that doesn’t have a lot of variation. Deploying AI chatbot technology will be able to strategically help banks improve customer experience and raise the level of support that agents provide.

Digital collaboration: The best way forward

By emphasising the importance of adopting digital channels and self-service tools like chatbots, fuelled by conversational AI, banks will be able to help serve a wide range of customer queries and ensure they are protected from fraud and scams.

Conversational AI is exactly what it sounds like: a computer programme that engages in a conversation with a human. When it comes to service delivery, conversational AI can be deployed across multiple channels to engage with customers in ways that effectively address evolving customer needs. At a time defined by COVID-19, self-service tools such a conversational chatbots can work around the clock to solve customer queries in a concise and timely way. Of course, self-service tools won’t completely replace human agents in the banking industry, but they will help companies redistribute customer traffic and workflows in ways that enhance customer experience. Self-service tools fuelled by conversational AI can also improve employee experience because service employees can handle fewer, but higher-level service tasks that chatbots might escalate to them.

Adopting new tools to help facilitate consistent and concise answers and help maintain customer experience is on the forefront of many industry minds. Banks such as the Natwest Group have seen this first-hand and are testament to the benefits that a good digital experience can provide. Simon Johnson, Capability Consultant, Digital at NatWest Group highlights NatWest’s use of digital tools during lockdown, “Over the last few months, we’ve learnt how to use digital tools to help our employees remotely. From a banking perspective, there have been a lot of changes including base rates, waive fees and the best ways of contacting our vulnerable customers, ensuring we keep them protected from frauds and scams. 

“By introducing our Bold360 chatbot interface, Ella, we’ve been able to get relevant information out quickly, apply the best practice and ensure that our customer journeys are being developed correctly. Due to the volume of questions, some of our customers were finding themselves waiting longer than usual. So digital channels become essential to helping reduce the wait time. Using Bold360, we were able to mitigate issues and answer questions in a more timely way through our chatbot. 

“Moving forward, as we open more digital services, we are analysing our data to see if customer will return back to their usual way of banking, now that they’ve seen what a good digital experience can provide. Either way, with Ella, we are ready.”

AI chatbots and humans supporting each other 

Ultimately, banking institutions have realised the benefits that digital collaboration can bring to their industry and how it can increase profits, while holding customer experience at the forefront of their minds. By providing 24/7 service, readily available information, consistent and concise answers across channels with behind the scenes support from member services representatives, digital collaboration will prove to be an essential component to the banking industry which will change it in the long term, for the better. While not every institution is ready to place chatbots high on their priority lists, the potential of its adoption should not be ignored.

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