As the world steadily adapts to the realities of remote working, the initial panic and uncertainty created by lockdown measures seems to be beginning to pass. The FCA was quick to respond, implementing a range of measures from allowing customers to access mortgage repayment holidays to enabling front line banking advisors to serve customers from their homes.
Though there have undoubtedly been moments of frustration, on the whole customers have been understanding of the predicament banks have faced. Recognising the influx of enquiries caused by customers seeking support, but without the channels through which they are usually served, customers have been largely forgiving of lengthy wait times or advisor uncertainty around new procedures.
In normal times, a great customer experience could be defined as one that exceeded all expectations and delighted that customer. In the context of COVID-19, this has undoubtedly fallen to simply ‘getting the job done’. Nevertheless, as time passes and with it being impossible to forecast an disruption end-date, customer patience will inevitably tire and so it remains vital that banks keep ahead of the curve and deploy new technologies to allow customers to have best-in-class experiences, remotely.
While many customers are digitally adept, a significant proportion still rely on traditional means of support. Though a shift to digital is the inevitable means through which banks will serve customers remotely, tech should generally only be deployed if it is simple to use, adds value to the customer and simplifies your operations.
For many customers, performing typical banking transactions like checking balances or making payments will continue as before without disruption. Nevertheless, with little other choice, many will also use your website to attempt the kind of transactions they generally would have preferred to make in person. Typically, these will be your higher value or more complex transactions like account opening or applying for a government backed business loan.
This opens up the potential for stumbling blocks. Either customers might encounter technical difficulties (i.e. are unsure how to navigate the site, are unable to reset passwords etc.) or they have product questions that they want to clarify. In either instance, what should be avoided from the bank’s perspective is escalating to the call centre, which is likely to already be in high demand.
This is where co-browsing tools can help. By implementing simple ‘click for assistance’ functionality on your website and allowing advisors to view and take action on the same webpage, you keep customers within the online channel and are able to solve the problem at the point of need.
Co-browsing tools can be configured in multiple ways. For simple questions, integration with chat functions can be very useful and allow advisors to handle multiple customer enquiries at any single time. Where more high touch assistance is required, customers can even request a callback from a website and speak to an advisor over the phone while looking at the same webpage.
There are significant benefits to co-browsing. This technology can often be deployed rapidly and, given that the websites already exist and are regularly maintained, the technology allows you to create maximum value from existing resources. Website conversions increase, relieving the pressure on your call centres and creating more cost-effective customer journeys, and the experience can also be enhanced as customers can start and end their journey in the channel of their choice.
While there may be higher demand and additional regulatory requirements put in place to facilitate front line advisors working from home, the interactions that take place with customers may not have changed drastically in and of themselves. Advisors are still able to speak to customers, draw on their CRM for past customer information, clarify questions etc.
Nevertheless, without access to a fully functioning branch network, the significance of call centre interactions is now much greater. For many customers, this is the only means by which they can speak with a bank representative and so the call centres must be enhanced to replicate the high touch role previously fulfilled by the branch.
The problem is that with voice-only, advisors cannot draw on the resources they may have in branch, for instance to hand the customer a piece of documentation and walk them through it or to show them a quick video to explain a process. This means that interactions with customers are often long and fractured, as customers struggle to understand products and services.
This is where simple screen-sharing tools are beneficial. Unlike co-browsing, in which both participants have relatively equal control, screen-sharing tools can be advisor led and allow them to manage the conversation by showing the customer visual content depending on the direction of the conversation. This might be, for instance, to show eligibility criteria for a particular product to help the customer quickly identify whether they qualify rather than going through a lengthy Q&A or equally show the customer compliance information to prevent the advisor having to read through a lengthy script.
By using screen-sharing tools, advisors can make the journey feel much more tailored to the customers’ needs. Moreover, there can be significant compliance benefits as these tools can build an audit trail that previously would have only been possible via voice recording. Overall, the result is that interactions are much more efficient and the experience is enhanced for customers and advisors alike.
3. Electronic Document Exchange
Exchanging documents by mail is still possible in the context of COVID-19, but it can nevertheless be problematic: it can extend transaction times when customers may require rapid service, the postal service itself can be costly, and staff may still be required in back offices to process documents.
If customers make a mistake completing their forms, there is often little other option than to begin the journey again. Moreover, additional challenges can be caused by the need for validation, e.g. with passports or driving licenses, as this is something that would be typically performed in branch.
Whether journeys take place online or over the phone, a reliance on physical document exchange is no longer required. Advanced screensharing tools can be used to collect documents and signatures from a customer in real time, with OCR tools being used to extract and validate data to ensure the highest data standards. Equally, secure document portals can be deployed online to collect documents during web journeys or from customers at a later point without a repeat call.
By exchanging documents in real time, banks can reduce transaction times from weeks to minutes, ensuring customer expectations are exceeded by allowing them to complete their journeys in fewer steps. Additionally, the costs of physical document exchange can be eliminated, making these journeys much more efficient.
4. Electronic Signatures
Even in the digital era, many banks have still been reliant on wet signatures to complete customer journeys. Yet in the context of COVID-19, much like exchanging physical documents, collecting wet signatures can be problematic.
Branch appointments may not be possible, sending contracts via mail is undesirable and the time it would all take may mean the customer doesn’t complete their transaction quickly enough. Nevertheless, technology can be used to collect electronic signatures via various channels, whether that be assisted by an advisor or self-serve online or via an app.
By collecting signatures electronically, banks can build a secure audit trail that helps prove compliance. Furthermore, the transaction times are accelerated, and the customer experience is enhanced by being able to complete the journey rapidly.
While COVID-19 has been enormously disruptive to both banks and to customers, it has shown that digital transformation needn’t be a long and painful process. Partnering with the right vendors can allow banks to circumvent traditional pain points, and deliver new technological tools to enhance customer journeys.
If you’d like to learn more about how Vizolution can help you deploy some of the above tools, get in touch to arrange a demo.