Digital Branch 2.0: Which Elements are Financial Institutions Adding Next?
COVID has transformed the way people do business; financial institutions are no exception to that. While banks and credit unions have been steadily ramping up their digital engagement capabilities for years, COVID-19 rapidly sped up that timeline, making it essential to provide those capabilities in a much shorter time frame.
In the post-pandemic world, online or mobile banking—sometimes referred to as the ‘Digital Branch’—has become the first point of contact that bank customers and credit union members expect to have with their financial institution. It is likely that habit is here for good. Digital engagement is likely to continue to be the main point of contact for most customers and members. Delivering exceptional customer service in these moments across the digital branch is going to become more and more important in building a differentiated experience.
Digital Branch 2.0
Moving forward, people are going to expect the same high level of service—whether that’s in a mobile app, on a website, on the phone with a representative, or speaking with a teller. If creating the ‘digital branch’ by ramping up digital engagement capabilities was about ensuring that customers and members had an equally good experience on a mobile app or website as they did in a physical branch, then ‘Digital Branch 2.0’ is about making those all of those different experiences as seamless as possible.
Members now have options for how to contact their financial institution, but they don’t always feel consistency across those options. For the best possible customer experience, members need to feel like they are having one conversation from start to finish, even if they switch communication channels mid-stream—for example, if a customer sends an email requesting information about a loan, and then calls into a local branch for an update on their loan status, and then opts to receive automated text updates throughout the rest of the process. Those are all different mediums for communicating with the member, and they all need to be integrated in a seamless way, as if it were happening in a local branch. Additionally, all staff playing a role in that experience need a 360-degree view of the member experience throughout the process, even if they only play a limited role.
Embracing all channels is very important, but it must be done in a way that makes a customer feel like they are having a unified conversation from start to finish.
How do you transform multichannel capabilities into a unified omnichannel experience for your customers?
Rushed adoption of new digital channels does have the unfortunate potential to make employees’ jobs more difficult. With customers expecting multiple options for communication, this proliferation of communication—sometimes taking place in disjointed channels or even different departments—can quickly become challenging for the employees expected to support them.
Adding communication options doesn’t have to detract from employee experience, however. This is an area where the right tools can make a difference. Bots, for example, can take over basic tasks and customer self-service, leaving the issues that require a human touch to human employees, while creating an easy ‘single pane of glass’ access to customer records makes customer data more actionable and helps agents understand their needs.
Getting a bigger picture not only helps employees, it helps keeps accounts and customer data safer. Banking architecture is more secure, and more sophisticated, than it has ever been before. As a result, many thieves have resorted to social engineering tactics, targeting the human element as the weakest point for entry. One popular method is for thieves to dial into a call center to try and get one piece of information on an account, and then call back later or contact a chat system, to get a different agent to give them a different piece of information, until they have enough data to access the targeted account.
With the right multichannel communication strategy enabled, each of those contacts is recorded in the same place, and any suspicious patterns—even if they take place on different communication lines—can be tracked and flagged.
Achieving Digital 2.0 is easier than ever—with SmartApps
SmartApps Cloud by Avtex are a suite of applications focused on alleviating these challenges in the financial services market. These tools are designed for credit unions and banks to provide better customer experience to their customers and members while reducing the cost of engaging with those them. Our SmartApps Cloud track all the different forms of communication happening—whether it’s through SMS or webchat or email—and create a unified history that financial institutions can use to create that unified customer experience.
SmartApps Cloud can assist with creating self-service capabilities, which is something customers want, but it’s important not to stop there. Importantly, SmartApps Cloud can help make the entire customer journey feel smoother, particularly conversational experiences powered by AI, and help to ensure that the experience of transitioning from a bot to a live person is as seamless as if the customer or member had been talking to a person the whole time.
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Brick-and-mortar bank branches aren’t going anywhere, but neither is the expectation that digital banking be available anytime, anywhere. Customer expectations for a seamless, unified experience are going to continue to grow. By adopting technology that will help you provide that experience, you can differentiate your customer service and your brand.