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Consumer Duty Standards: How Low Code Tech Will Solve the Back-End Challenges

Many will be keenly aware that the UK’s financial regulator the FCA is asking the retail banking sector to drive ahead with applying tougher customer service standards. With the initial July 2023 deadline on the horizon, keeping to their timetable should mean greater adoption of more agile development, low code and automation technologies and techniques. But the devil will lie in the detail.

Last year, the FCA published new rules and guidance regarding its proposed Consumer Duty Standards which the retail banking sector will be required to implement. Key points of note include a new Consumer Principle that requires firms to act to deliver good outcomes for retail customers as well as a focus on four key outcomes - products and services, price and value, consumer understanding and consumer support. Meeting the needs of vulnerable customers is now a key criterion - and as well as acting to deliver good customer outcomes, firms will need to prove whether those outcomes are being met. 

To transform customer services processes to meet these needs will require doubling down on redesigning and delivering new back-end processes. Whilst many banks are already a long way down digital transformation pathways with a view to heading off the challenges from neobanks, low-code and intelligent automation software should form a fundamental element of planning when it comes to meeting the new FCA standards.

Why is this the case? Well, low code software can help banks empower employees who work with customers with the ability to adapt internal processes and approaches relatively quickly. With many low-code solutions built with a “drag and drop” approach, this allows the creation of new services from whole teams - not just software developers. This can also help banks to rapidly prototype new processes, enabling them to develop working solutions quickly to comply with the regulation. Overall, it gives a greater chance of the correctly tailored business processes being built into the solution.

Accelerating automation plans should also form a significant element of Consumer Duty planning, especially where resiliency and adaptability are concerned. When it comes to building resilience, re-architecting legacy systems to connect with agile software solutions that harness automation is key, as it can help provide banks with real-time visibility into important assets and processes. This approach to automation can provide banks with greater flexibility over what to automate and to what level, as well as to identify processes where there should be a personal touch so routing it to the right skilled person to get the work done. As a result, banks can remove some of the restrictions that may be in place with legacy systems.

AI-powered automation can also help drive customer service efforts to meet the requirements outlined in the consumer duty standards, and particularly to help embed personalisation and empathy at the core of the customer banking experience. For example, conversational AI - or AI which listens to the conversation and has the ability to capture action items in real-time as well as completing them in the background – can help minimise the chance of errors throughout the customer journey. It can do this in a number of ways - either by facilitating better self-service through the use of chatbots, or supporting customer service agents to improve the customer experience. AI-powered real-time decisioning in particular can help read the millions of signals customers generate, anticipating what they need next, and can be applied across channels and interactions as inputs come in. This can make it far more likely that the right conversation, advice or action is taking place to meet the customers’ needs.

This can be particularly valuable where vulnerable customers are concerned - for example, a customer services agent responding to an enquiry from a distressed customer can easily identify whether they count as vulnerable based on existing data. They can be provided automatically with the options that are suitable and appropriate for that customer. The system can then suggest possible courses of action and adapt on the fly as appropriate - suggesting a new product or service that could, for example, save the customer money as a consequence.

The FCA is asking for fundamental processes to be in place to ensure the right outcomes for customers. Banks that implement a cost-effective, agile servicing set-up that takes advantage of low code and intelligent automation solutions will be best prepared to deliver on the promise of the Consumer Duty - and save themselves from compliance headaches.

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