The COVID-19 pandemic blew open the so-called “digital front door” of financial institutions—forcing companies to scramble to accommodate an influx of customer interactions in new ways. Reacting to change is one thing, though, and proactively meeting customer expectations is another.
As businesses slowly emerge from the pandemic, digital strategies can be further leveraged to proactively mitigate customer support challenges through automation, self-service and channel optimisation. Here are some top ways financial firms can create long-term resilience with a blend of humans and digital technology.
1. Reduce avoidable calls
Heightened consumer and business lending needs triggered a massive spike in loan applications and contact centre volume. Consumers are ringing their financial institutions with new questions–from looking for Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme information, deferment requests, or searching for guidance on how to take a short-term loan. Service demand far exceeds capacity, and is expected to for a while. At the same time, access to many lending institutions has been hindered. Managing the increased support volume while adjusting to new application processes and a distributed workforce has led to monumental challenges for the industry.
The most effective way to quickly reduce and manage contact centre volume starts with proactively reducing the need for customers to call to speak to a human. Add a notification to online loan applications that automatically informs applicants what the next steps are along with a timeframe. Help customers help themselves. Let customers know that that the FAQ section has been updated with new information on loan criteria.
2. Deflect calls to messaging
To reduce voice volume, deflect callers to other channels. Using Apple Business Chat, for example, a bank could present customers who search for its name with two options: tap a phone number, or send a message. In our experience, when companies offer a message option next to ringing, seven out of 10 choose messaging.
What’s more, a messaging channel expands the number of customer conversations an associate can concurrently handle. An associate can handle 4 messaging sessions concurrently—4 times the rate of a regular voice channel. A messaging channel can be quickly stood up. With minimal IT resource support, messaging can be deployed, configured, and implemented in as little as 10 to 15 days.
3. Intercept calls with automation
Common questions can be intercepted by AI-enabled bots. A bot could be programmed to answer tier one questions such as, “how do I defer a payment?” In fact, more than 50 percent of customer intent can be solved with simple automation. For questions that require an agent, the bot could be programmed to collect basic information, so that the agent already has the information needed to begin assisting the customer.
4. Fight fraud with technology and empathy
The race to provide consumers with much-needed financial support has created a fertile ground for fraud and identify theft. Reports show an uptick in phishing schemes and scams. Financial institutions have an opportunity to stay ahead of the issue and increase customer trust by ensuring real-time digital transparency and communication.
Much of fraud prevention involves repetitive tasks such as flagging suspicious accounts and activities and collating information. Technology can relieve agents from performing those repetitive tasks and allow them to focus on more high-value tasks, such as providing empathetic support and informing customers of next steps. Fraud identification filters, algorithms and knowledge management databases power fraud detection bots that can quickly alert companies to millions of attacks and suspicious activities.
The future is now
In many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation that financial institutions were just beginning to explore. Companies now have an opportunity to seize the momentum to not only meet today’s immediate needs but to meet customers where they are, provide meaningful support, and drive higher satisfaction and increased revenue. In short, reimagine the customer experience now and build a solid foundation for the future.