Covid-19 has caused each and every industry to reinvent and reapproach how they do business. The pandemic has forced many organizations to accelerate their digital transformation journeys, shifting a focus from an aspirational possibility to an urgent need to drive digital adoption. As such, this has created a common thread as organizations move from physical to digital spaces amongst all sectors, significantly in banking.
Banks have had to completely reimagine how their contact centers operate as well as consider whether physical branches should open and, if so, how best to implement the appropriate social distancing measures. As a result, many years of transformation have been crammed into just a few months, overhauling traditional approaches with the likes of AI-enabled chatbots, virtual appointments, advanced app capabilities and even digital screenings of customer calls now commonplace.
What are the main challenges banks are facing?
Banks have faced numerous challenges since March, with perhaps the most notable being the need to continue servicing customers in this period of unpredictability and disruption. Whilst customer satisfaction and support were priorities prior to Covid-19, banks have worked tirelessly to ensure service levels do not drop.
As a result, we are witnessing banks adjust and adopt various digital strategies in order to re-create and bolster more personable interactions which customers expect at scale. An innovative example of this is by strengthening, and at points replacing, face-to-face consultations with video consultations through digital channels. By adapting and effectively utilizing technology banks are able to deal with changing behaviors in real time and provide customers with services they already have experience and understanding of.
What specific technologies can banks be offering right now and what are the benefits?
Technological advances are altering the way we bank, whilst providing continuity and familiarity through carefully orchestrated experiences. Many banks are already embracing technological change in their pivot during Covid-19. For example, Hargreaves Lansdown successfully integrated advanced analytics capabilities to serve targeted advice-led content and ensure queries were answered before they were even asked.
Another shining example is TSB, which implemented online form and digital signage technologies which allowed the bank to facilitate over 15,000 account sign ups, a task normally requiring a trip to the branch. This digital approach means TSB can now service customers safely and securely online. With 7.5 million personal and business customer profiles accessible in a central TSB platform, the bank is a perfect example of how digitizing applications and journeys will pave the way for banking’s future.
The message is clear – if banks are to maintain continuity, they must first acknowledge how customers’ expectations and behaviors have understandably shifted since March. Whilst the expectations of high quality service at speed remain constant, regardless of the outbreak, banks must use their time now to better finesse their perception of each individual, their expectations, and look to comprehend how digital services can support and empower ways in which they can stay in tune with their customer base.
How are traditional banks fairing over their challenger bank competitors?
As the banking sector increasingly witnesses more organizations shift to digital, it is important to understand that digital-first banks revolutionized the way customers perceive and wish to interact with banks. Whilst Monzo and Starling previously had an edge through compelling brand identity and a customer-centric approach, traditional banks are now getting to grips with the critical role they play in maintaining banking consistency for customers. As banks with physical branches look to adapt their current spaces using technology, such as digital screens, video booths and mobile appointment bookings, we are seeing these banks fair better than the digital-first competitors.
Fundamentally, physical spaces have always been vital to banking and the sector’s shift to digital means that these spaces can now be converted and enhanced to provide an aspect of unparalleled normality for many through these trying times – particularly for those more vulnerable, such as elderly customers or those with accessibility issues. What’s more, the delivery of touchless and digital interaction in-branch will reassure some customers, such as those needing to pay large sums of cash, exchange foreign currency or withdraw large sums, as they often prefer face-to-face advice and support.
Therefore, by utilizing branch space more economically, traditional banks will differentiate themselves from digital-only players and potentially build stronger relationships with customers. The physical spaces provide unique opportunities to engage with customers through a hybrid of both human and digital services, all whilst ensuring better safety and efficiencies in customer experience.
Moving forward, what can we expect the banking experience to look like?
2020 has undoubtedly reset the way in which banks do business, how they interact with their customers, and what services they can offer on a frequent basis. As banking continues to learn, evolve, and integrate digital technologies, it is clear that physical, digital and telephone banking channels will merge and banks will provide tailored experiences for individual customers depending on their needs.
Over the next few years, the value put on personalized experiences by customers will highlight the importance of implementing well-considered digital strategies in paving the way for the future of banking. In fact, we will eventually witness physical spaces support a main digital journey as face to face in-store experiences are reimagined to provide a cutting-edge experience digital-only banks cannot provide. Soon, like many other industries, data and analytics will drive banking. Empowered with the ability to review a complete picture of each individual customer, banks of the future will fulfil customer needs through more personalized experiences. By delivering first class experiences, such as advisory workshop sessions and consultations, no matter where the customer is, the future picture of banking is not in the physical, but digital world.
- Lee Edwards, Vice President for Northern Europe, Middle East and Africa for Adobe.
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