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Virtual Is the New Reality

Post-pandemic banking leans on eye-opening CX trends

two office workers looking at a tablet

The plexiglass walls are now falling across the world, and something is becoming clear: the “new normal” idea was not an empty cliché. Though many were expecting a return to the way things were before COVID-19, instead firms are progressing to a post-pandemic stage of doing business
With the acceleration of digital optimization originally to compensate for a lack of in-person opportunities in the banking sector, customers demonstrate no desire to go back. According to a Financial Brand study in mid-May, customers across generations—even Baby Boomers—displayed an increase in preference towards online banking. Unsurprisingly, the highest number was reported by Millennials and Gen-Z: 60% of Millennial and 58% of Gen-Z customers prefer digital banking.
Where do we go from here? As the future of digital banking brightens, the entire ecosystem is changing. For CX, that means a prolific, re-imagined digital approach. It means a Kardashev-like leap to a new stage: what was once a luxury will now be expected, and new, never-before-imagined luxuries may soon enter the stage. Here are some trends that offer insight into what the rest of 2021 & beyond will look like for CX in banking.
Cybersecurity & fraud prevention will reach new levels of scale, efficiency & reliability

Along with increased online/mobile banking and remote work comes a host of cybersecurity and fraud issues. The Herjavec Group previously estimated that cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion in 2021. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that annual cost to grow to $10.5 trillion by 2025. Cybercrime has now become more lucrative than ever, and hiring more cybersecurity experts is not the answer: this is an arms race. Companies need to reach the scale, efficiency, and consistency required to guard against constantly evolving and mutating fraud and cyber-attacks.
The best approach balances automation and AI with human expertise: detection and response systems are automated by AI, focusing human effort on enhancing the AI and addressing more complex situations.
Flexible and remote work will transform recruiting, hiring, training & effectiveness
Faced with mandated lockdowns and social distancing requirements, financial services companies around the world embraced remote works. While it will make sense for some financial employees to return to the office, employers must find a balance between flexible work and the needs of the company.
Remote work is not something to leave behind. An earlier collection of data from Forbes estimated that remote workers were 40% more effective, and companies saved as much as $11,000 per part-time remote worker. A rise in remote work also means that new hires will come from a wider and more diverse talent pool, with implications for new recruiting, hiring, and training approaches and success metrics.
According to PwC, 69% of financial services companies expect to have almost two-thirds of their workforce working from home at least once a week moving forward—a 40% increase from pre-COVID-19 metrics. Its Global Workplace Analytics reported that 82% of employees want to work from home at least some of the time after the pandemic, with 19% wanting full-time remote employment. Companies will have to adapt to this new mindset—but it will work out in everyone’s favor.
Banks will look to deliver effortless omnichannel experiences
Remember how previous luxuries will come to be expected? Customers today expect to have the option of completing transactions online, at a branch, through a mobile app, or via telephone. Whichever option customers select, they expect to have the same brand experience—in real time, every time. Fintechs and financial startups that weren’t weighed down with legacy infrastructure are already capitalizing on omnichannel experiences. Now is the time for traditional banks to catch up.
Customer-centric financial firms will double down on utilizing data analytics and insights collected throughout a customer’s journey to create a seamless, personalized experience across all channels. This will not only increase their satisfaction, but lower costs as well.
Innovation will be driven with customer-centric cost savings
Economists are predicting a slow economic recovery even as coronavirus case rates fall. Faced with lingering obstacles to growth and profitability, banks are looking for a sustainable, resilient path forward.
Savvy financial leaders will prioritize ways to eliminate waste and increase cost savings in the contact center without negatively affecting the customer experience. This will lead to clever innovation and optimization. Critical accelerated digital initiatives include cloud migration, remote delivery, data management, consolidating operation solutions, and automating more parts of the customer journey.
Strong personalization will put companies on top
When consumers have little free time and are juggling multiple responsibilities, they have no time for nonsense. Personalized financial products and services that are easily understood show the customer that the bank understands their needs and helps them feel in control, driving loyalty and retention. To get there, financial institutions should focus on leveraging customer insights at scale, redefine back-office processes, and provide straightforward customer communications.
Better automation & human support will see a rise in a cyborg approach
From robo-advisors to conversational banking, banks are increasingly merging digital and human channels to support customers faster at a lower cost. At the height of the pandemic, many banks worked with tech partners to quickly implement and deploy chatbots and messaging options to deflect calls from their at-capacity customer service centers and reduce wait times. This doesn’t need to go away, and now companies have the time to explore and optimize this new technology.
We predict that optimizing the handoff from automated tools and AI-powered bots to humans and vice versa will become table stakes as customers continue to demand fast support, especially with less branch foot traffic. Banks will compete on delivering the fastest support—but it is important not to lose yourself in the race.
Empathy will shine through the digital landscape
As touchpoints become increasingly digital, banks should make customers from all age groups feel valued, appreciated, and safe across every channel—not just during in-person conversations. Some banks, for instance, are starting to produce educational videos for seniors, such as Capital One’s “Ready, Set, Bank” initiative. The initiative is a free educational tool designed to help older adults leverage online banking, catching the growing percentage of older generations interested in making the switch. Also, training agents to ask probing questions on other channels besides voice helps them build a rapport with customers and provide a distinctly human value to their experience.
The banking industry’s future is uncertain, but full of bright spots.  There are new opportunities in CX, and with them come new opportunities for success.