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Digital Banking Needs a Human Touch

Blog Post By Judith Aquino, Senior Writer

The financial services industry is working hard to digitise customer services. But by focusing more on services that reduce costs rather than improve customer experiences, many banking institutions are at risk of losing out to customer-focused competitors.

Approximately 22 million people in the United Kingdom use mobile banking apps to manage their accounts, an increase of about 3.4 million users per year in the last 5 years, reports Global Banking & Finance Review. At the same time, J.D. Power reveals that digital-only banking customers are the least satisfied among all customer segments.

What’s causing the disconnect? Here, we’ll examine the issue and share strategies for creating a balanced and differentiated banking customer experience.

Putting the customer first

Digital banking allows for fast and convenient service that’s available 24/7. Online services are also less expensive. Case in point: costs to provide financial advice over a digital channel are 25 to 35 percent lower than in the branch. Visits to retail bank branches are also expected to drop 36 percent between 2017 and 2022 as customers increasingly shift to accessing their banking information via apps and the internet, reports the Financial Brand.

But as the J.D. Power survey suggests, despite reduced bank branch visits, consumers still want human advisers for certain needs, such as advice, opening a new account, or handling a complaint. The bottom line is that digital isn’t the sole solution for banking services. Customers want a mix of technology and humanity, with digital services supported by a traditional infrastructure. Here are a few ways to accomplish that.

Stay human

As routine requests are increasingly automated, failing to personalise face-to-face customer interactions is a missed opportunity. Use emotional connection-based strategies to help banking associates build stronger relationships with customers.

For instance, provide associates guidelines on how to connect with customers by looking at the intent of the request (e.g., taking out a loan) and alerting customers to a service they were unaware of that directly relates to the request or providing a special touch like a handwritten card. The key is to let customers know the company is listening to them and knows enough about them to offer services they can use, when they need them.

Create contextually relevant interactions

It can be tempting to automate and digitise as many interactions as possible, but research shows this is the wrong approach. For routine transactions, consumers prefer digital channels, but they give higher Net Promoter Scores to companies that allow customers to speak with a representative to resolve a problem, reports Bain & Co. Banks can earn greater loyalty by making routine interactions convenient and frictionless, while providing a high-touch service experience with an associate during emotional moments, such as fee disputes.

To learn more about how banks can create differentiated customer experiences, check out our e-book, Money in the Bank: 5 Financial Services CX Trends.