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Navigating the shift towards remote working in the financial sector

Navigating the shift towards remote working in the financial sector
(Image credit: Shutterstock.com/13_Phunkod)

The past few months have posed unprecedented challenges for businesses. From implementing remote working policies to deploying the right software to connect employees, organisations across industries are having to adapt to new ways of working. And while these issues aren’t entirely new, the speed with which they’re coming to light is definitely accelerating. This is especially true for the financial services sector, which has experienced its toughest period in over a decade.

The financial sector has always had a clear ethos – to ensure secure, streamlined operations for customers and deliver excellence. Technology plays a key role here. The industry has been striving towards becoming digital-first for a while. However, with an almost overnight shift towards remote lifestyles and the population now relying on online services, technology is more crucial than ever – both for employees and customers.

As demand continues to increase, financial organisations will need to provide optimal services and excellent customer experience. What’s more, ensuring they have adopted the right technology will allow for business continuity and agility during these uncertain times.

Supporting customers with optimized service

In times of economic uncertainty, customers need guaranteed support and reliable services – especially from financial organisations. Customer service conversations will increase both in frequency and difficulty, and therefore providing an optimal experience is imperative. This is especially important during the current pandemic, as all interactions are taking place virtually from remote locations. Banks therefore need to ensure they are able to manage applications and tackle this surge in demand quickly and efficiently.

IT management will play a vital role here, as they’ll need to be on constant alert to help avoid disruptions to services. From pinpointing problem areas in the system – such as websites crashing due to high traffic volume – to adjusting operations accordingly and optimizing resources, their actions will help to ensure continuity across the organisation.

Adapting services to match demands

Customer needs will no doubt have changed over the past few months – and considering these new demands will provide valuable insight when improving customer experiences. For example, with physical bank branches shut, online services may see an increase in senior users. Adding in new tools and simplified resources will help cater to the needs of these new users as they learn how to navigate the online systems.

Financial organisations should also re-evaluate how they connect customers with service experts. Functionalities such as chatbots will reduce response time and build customer trust. Instead of spending time on hold, customers can quickly access personalized and reliable advice thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities. This will provide benefits on two fronts – instantly streamlining the customer experience and potentially securing a loyal customer base in the long run.

What’s more, this need for improved services provides a gateway for financial organisations to foster new digital offerings. Digital transformation is a proven key asset for successful businesses – with a recent Forbes survey revealing that 50% of leaders placed it in their top three business objectives – and financial organisations should strive to achieve this through technology. While this isn’t a new consideration, accelerated adoption could prove vital for understanding customer activities and calculating quick and efficient responses.

Efficient employees = success

Customers are not the only area that financial services should be focusing on – employee experience is equally important. If internal teams are to ensure productivity while working remotely, and deliver the high standard of service that is expected, businesses will need to ensure that internal operations continue to run smoothly. Employees will need secure access to corporate applications, emails, videoconferencing tools, and file-sharing platforms, alongside the necessary processes to handle the surge in customer requests from remote locations.

So, how can financial organisations ensure the smooth running of services while also meeting the current unprecedented demand?

Bandwidth will be a key component here. Employees will need sufficient bandwidth if they are to carry out their daily tasks while ensuring quality and avoiding potential disruptions. What’s more, for financial organisations without an existing remote working scheme, employees will need access to hardware in order to support their work, such as new laptops and mobile phones. IT departments will also need to ensure that their applications are fit for secure remote working, such as through shared drives, collaboration platforms and virtual private networks (VPN), as well as continually monitoring systems and maintaining optimal cybersecurity hygiene.

Striving towards a data-driven digital transformation

A successful remote workforce will be underpinned by IT’s capabilities when spotting problems, assessing their impact, and managing solutions. To do this effectively, many are turning to data-driven insights. By establishing usage patterns and detecting anomalies, data is aiding stretched IT departments to pinpoint threats and inefficiencies. AI- and ML-driven applications are likewise key components of successful IT operations. IT teams can predict and prevent risks and problems across their system through solutions such as AI for IT operations (AIOps). This is key to reducing downtime and boosting overall efficiency across financial organisations.

Ultimately, a successful IT department will be fundamental for financial services if they are going to thrive in the ‘new normal.’ With the right tools, streamlined operations, and optimized experiences in place for both customers and employees, IT departments can empower businesses during their digital transformation and help on their journey to becoming autonomous digital enterprises.