As commentators have been predicting for some time, the digital revolution and the increased connectivity of consumers is now changing the financial services sector profoundly. Technology is driving change at almost every level, from investment and back
office functions to customer-facing services, and the knowledge that early adopters and innovators generally gain market share, is making an already competitive market even more so.
Consequently, financial institutions (FIs) have invested heavily in IT and in the recruitment of digital and fintech specialists. This clearly makes sense, and we have seen a proliferation of apps, e-wallets, online banking services and AI as a result. The
best of the FIs have taken a holistic approach, linking and integrating digital and traditional channels to provide a seamless and customised experience for each customer, at every touchpoint.
Customers in their turn have lapped this up, because it is exactly what they want. But technology alone does not make a great connected experience.
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, what lies at the heart of effective connected journeys is — humanity.
To create frictionless movement between all channels, financial institutions have to understand the customer experience at a meaningful level. Robots cannot do that — even AI is only as good as the data people feed it — but
people can. In particular, customer service personnel and branch staff can help financial institutions to develop a genuine perception of how well their commerce strategies are working (or not) and identify areas for improvement. Assuming those financial
institutions have good internal communications, an open culture and willingness to learn from mistakes, this is a hugely useful way to incrementally improve and refine the customer journey at every touchpoint.
What does this mean for the industry? Essentially, it means that digital offerings should be influenced by more than just technology. They should be impacted by the human experience too. This means thinking about recruitment not only in terms of the banking
experience, or even the digital experience, but also in terms of social, anthropological and psychological understanding of consumers and clients. The customer journey is sometimes fraught, sometimes exciting, sometimes mundane, but always essentially human.
That is why financial institutions that underpin their investments in technology with investment in people at all levels, including customer-facing roles, are on course to thrive in the brave new digital world.