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Elevating the Customer Experience in Banking

As digital transformation continues to shape the ways in which consumers communicate and interact with businesses, nearly every industry has undergone (at least to some degree) a digital transition. In finance, which has seen the rise of fintech models such as Apple Pay and Venmo, traditional financial institutions are struggling to compete for the business of today’s tech-savvy consumers.
Banking’s Transformation
Digital transformation in the financial industry has completely shifted the way customers do business with their banks. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ “2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey,” a clear preference exists for using smartphones to interact digitally with banks. And unlike years past, as the number of smartphones and mobile devices grows, digital conveniences like peer-to-peer payments are becoming more of an expectation than a preference.
Accustomed to accessing any information using a variety of devices on the go, millennials are also helping to drive increasing demand for mobile banking tools, including apps and new features that improve existing products and services. A May 2016 report by Halifax revealed that as banking becomes increasingly digital and user-friendly, millennials are monitoring their finances more closely, which in turn is leading to a shift in attitudes toward their financial interactions.
As technology continues to advance, the next generation of banking will see major shifts both in terms of elevating the customer experience and in the communications technology that financial institutions use to run their businesses in today’s digital age.
Automation of Front-end Customer Communications
Over the last five years, the rise of mobile devices has ushered in a new era of daily digital banking transactions. With mobile apps providing the ability to deposit a check or transfer funds between accounts in real time, it’s no wonder why today’s consumers have come to expect around-the-clock access to routine banking tasks. Because of this, financial institutions have had no choice but to turn to artificial intelligence (AI).
According to the financial research firm Autonomous, traditional financial institutions can reduce costs 22% by 2030 through the use of AI. One of the most significant ways AI can help save financial institutions money (in freeing up the internal resource of their employees’ time for more complex matters) is by implementing a chatbot to automate routine customer communications.
Chatbots have helped financial institutions automate communication and basic banking tasks such as checking account balances, transferring funds, or beginning the paperwork for a mortgage. In fact, a 2018 study by Humley found that more than 43% of respondents preferred dealing with their banking provider through chatbot interactions. As customers grow to prefer digital interactions more and more, chatbot technology will only become more impactful.
And although technology now streamlines and automates much of the communication that takes place today, the significance of a human-to-human connection still exists.
The use of chatbot technology simply creates a more convenient and seamless consumer experience while simultaneously saving banks time and money.
Tone Analysis to Influence Communications on the Fly
Just as financial firms have turned to chatbots to meet the changing expectations of today’s consumers, they’re introducing tone analysis technology to provide call center agents with feedback on sentiment they’ve conveyed during audio conversations or SMS or Web chat interactions.
This technology provides guidance throughout a customer interaction, making an agent aware of voice inflections or word choices that might help optimize the customer experience. With this type of technology, call center agents at a financial institution can view data in real time during their conversations to gauge indicators related to joy, anger, agreeableness, or openness in their own voices -- improving the overall experience for customers as the agents pivot accordingly in their approaches.
The Beginnings of Branchless Banking
At its foundation, banks were established to provide a place for people to store and leverage their earnings as well as receive financial assistance for planning, loans, etc. With the rise of digital transactions, physically visiting a branch to do business is becoming less necessary as people can access all their finances, make deposits, and even live chat with a service representative from the comfort of their homes. As a result, the next generation of banking also includes options for branchless banking to meet the rising expectation for convenience and flexibility.
Going branchless has numerous benefits for consumers and financial institutions alike, but it hasn’t been entirely possible until recently. In some cases, such as in very large cities, it may still be a stretch. However, it’s becoming more feasible for regional credit unions and other local financial institutions seeking to compete with fintech services to shift to a more convenience-oriented business model and stay current with the latest technology trends.
In a service-oriented industry like banking, where customer experience is the focus, most advancements are based on what the institutional leaders believe will make the overall experience better for their customers. In this vein, having a bank or credit union whose processes are only done digitally provides several conveniences for consumers: from using a chatbot for simple account transfers to increasing customer satisfaction by expanding support hours.
As technology continues to evolve, so will the customer experience in banking. The next generation of banking will be marked by an increase in digital communications, often powered by AI, and a mix of traditional in-branch banking paired with branchless banking approaches. As millennials’ purchasing power continues to increase, this always-on generation promises to continue to impact digital banking solutions by demanding -- and creating -- upgraded services that meet and exceed their own service delivery expectations.