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Giving people what they want: the tech that will help banks to meet customer demands

Welcome to a new era of customer-centricity. 

Today, customers enjoy a wealth of options at their very fingertips. They are made more powerful as a result. Hyper-responsive brands such as Netflix and Amazon have driven changes to customer expectations. Financial services providers need to catch up.

Technology offers both incumbents and disruptors the opportunity to become more customer-centric, whilst at the same time improving efficiencies, delivering on exceptional customer experience and ensuring a return on investment. 

Here are three key demands currently being pressed upon the BFSI sector by consumers, and a few thoughts on how tech can be successfully leveraged to meet those demands. 

 

1 Customers expect seamless, consistent interactions - any time, any where

Onboarding is the first crucial interaction between end-user and provider, and is also the first step to securing a lifelong client - who will have far higher value for the business. The experience of opening an account should be seamless, pain-free and simple. It should, therefore, be a key area of focus for digital innovation. 

The identification process for account opening (in order to comply with know your customer (KYC), customer due diligence and anti-money laundering regulations) has been shown to take the end user anything from 20-odd clicks to more than 100 clicks. The result? Frustration, irritation, boredom. Customers expect to be up and running in mere minutes. 

Automation has the power to revolutionise this first interaction between provider and customer; handling the high-volume, repetitive tasks often present within the onboarding process. Whilst robotic process automation can verify customer data from other sources, intelligent document processing (IDP) uses machine learning, natural language processing and intelligent character recognition (ICR) to extract the necessary customer data from documents. Chatbots can also automatically engage with the customer - giving updates on the onboarding status prompting customers for information when needed. 

The list of tech that can support BFSI players with customer interactions goes on - internet of things (IoT) devices can also ensure interactions are more convenient, such as enabling users to perform easy transactions using voice assistants built into their smartphones. So too can banking applications for wearables and smart screens in branches. 

Custom-built apps, platforms, data, analytics and process excellence must also seamlessly work together for a unified end-user experience. The return on investment on custom banking solutions has enormous potential - tackling efficiencies, supporting upsell and revenue generation from new and existing customers and eliminating the need for regular software updates.  

The more touch points between provider and customer, the more data can be collected - and utilised.    

 

2 Customers want personalised experiences à la Netflix

Customer-centricity, ultimately, means personalisation - and brands such as Amazon and Netflix have set a high bar. 

The key to delivering highly personalised and tailored experiences lies within data and analytics. The good news for incumbents in particular, is that they have extraordinary access to data, though few are utilising it to its full benefit. Banks handle more critical information on their customers than arguably any other company. Instead of access to TV viewing habits, they have an extensive view of their customers’ financial habits. 

By ethically applying AI and machine learning to customers’ transactions, providers can anticipate future needs, engage with existing customers in new ways in order to drive revenue, and lock in a customer for longer. 

Segmentation of audiences by Netflix is particularly prominent in a user’s home dashboard - an opening screen tailored to each account holder and their TV and film tastes. Banking providers could also apply the same thinking to a customer’s home screen on a banking app, and utilise data to segment customers according to age, income, location, lifestyle and spending habits, and make product suggestions accordingly.

Data can also help financial providers to offer valuable guidance to their customers - such as suggestions for products to help them save or reduce a debt, for example, helping to retain a sense of the ‘human’ in digital interactions.

Personalisation must be leveraged across channels too - from app, to web browser, to in branch. Think consistent, think seamless. 

 

3 Customers want to see tangible commitments to sustainability and a values-led business

More than half of people in the UK believe that it has become more important for companies to behave more sustainably because of the pandemic - with interest in ethical businesses growing rapidly in the last two years. 

Starling Bank is a brand that has captured this sentiment, and has publicly committed not to invest in fossil fuels. The provider was named Best British Bank for the fourth year in a row in 2021 by the British Bank Awards. Earlier this month, HSBC committed $100 million to fund green technology projects, and will join the leadership council for Breakthrough Energy Catalyst - a fund founded by Bill Gates to support projects that will grow the adoption of climate-smart technologies. The Belgian financial services company Euroclear has also recently announced an investment with Greenomy - a sustainable finance technology platform. 

Whether it's reducing data-centre emissions by moving to the cloud or using data combined with AI and machine learning to incentivise customers towards green behaviours, technology has a key role to play in BFSI sustainability initiatives.

Take car insurance as an example - analysing customer data can reveal certain driving patterns, an insurer might utilise this data to generate personalised ‘green’ offers and incentives to specific customers, helping users to cut their carbon emissions and rewarding sustainable behaviours. 

Incumbent banks can also use data analytics to identify which customers - and when, and where - are still making use of ATMs for cash access. A values-led, socially responsible business might introduce initiatives that prioritise the most vulnerable customers who need physical cash access, and ensure that ATMs are available at certain locations and times to only those individuals. An app or web platform could also be applied to enable certain groups of customers to priority book appointments for in-branch. 



With customer expectations at a seemingly all time high, it is crucial that BFSI players begin to fully leverage tech solutions in order to become more customer-focused. With hundreds of other providers to choose from, consumer loyalty is at risk if businesses can’t deliver on their demands. Automation, chatbots and IoT tech can support the all-important onboarding process, whilst data holds the key to unlocking crucial personalised experiences. With 74% of consumers considering brand values before purchasing a product or service, financial services businesses must also begin to better utilise tech for environmental and social good. And the good news - customer-centricity isn’t the only thing at play here, as tech can also help to cut down on the high costs of manual data-entry, simplify account opening, improve business efficiencies and build for the future.

 

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