"Hey Alexa, where's the nearest restaurant?" "What time does it open?" Interest in voice apps is really beginning to take off. They give us the potential to get directions, set alarms and reminders and can even help us control our smart home.
Currently, we're mostly using these devices for simple things; listening to music and asking for basic information, such as the weather forecast. But, increasingly, we're becoming accustomed to using them to buy everything from groceries to clothes. Now, voice services such as Amazon Alexa or Siri are also making banking transactions easier.
Banks will need to adapt to their customer's changing lifestyles, as the future of banking customer experience doesn't involve standing in a branch queue. It's already much more about engaging with consumers in the digital ways they expect.
Creating new ways for banks to engage with customers
Online banking has been, and for many customers still is, a wonderful time-saver. But, for 'always-on' millennial customers, logging into a banking app on their phone is already a norm and they continue to expect more frictionless experiences from their banks. With Voice-Banking they don't have the hassle of keyboards or touchscreens; they simply talk to digital technology as they would to a human.
Suzanne's experience is a good example. She's just returned from a weekend exploring Paris with her sister and remembers she needs to send her some money. "Siri, can you open Mybank and make a transfer to Natalie?" she asks. Siri has a voice recognition feature and Suzanne is registered as the authorized user.
Siri asks Suzanne to unlock her phone with her fingerprint as a part of the authentication and then choose an account she would like to use. Suzanne selects the account and gives Siri a voice order to send €200 from her account to Natalie. To validate the transaction, Suzanne receives a text message and One Time Password (OTP).
Siri makes the transfer, within seconds. Suzanne can also use voice orders to check payment due dates or recent transactions on any of her accounts or credit cards. This type of Voice-Banking is starting to play a key role in Omni-Channel banking, as customers expect to interact with voice assistants at home, at work or in their car.
Expanding the Voice-Banking experience
Voice activation isn't limited to simple transactions. For example, when John checks his account balance with Alexa, he discovers that his bank has sent him a mortgage offer notification. John expresses his interest and that prompts Alexa to ask questions, such as "are you still working for X company?" "Is your current salary X amount?" This way, the bank captures the KYC (Know Your Customer) information right then and there.
Following John's answers, Alexa is able to fetch eligible mortgage amount from the bank's loan origination system along with the relevant interest rate. "We can offer an interest rate of 2.2% per annum on this loan. Are you interested in availing this offer?" Alexa asks. If the answer is yes, Alexa continues and asks: "Would you like me to set up an appointment with one of our advisors to discuss this offer in more detail?" When John confirms he is, Alexa schedules an appointment at the bank branch or arranges for an agent to visit John at home or his office.
Overcoming challenges to a seamless customer journey
Voice banking is conquering the financial services industry, however there are still some concerns particularly around customer trust and acceptance of the value-added benefits of Voice-Banking. With more customers becoming more used to conversing with digital assistants such as Alexa and Siri, the acceptance of this new technology for banking services is expected to increase significantly in the future. It will also completely transform the way they interact with the technology.
Deploying AI and conversational banking technology successfully requires a customer-first approach. An ecosystem of connected voice assistants can enable cross-channel interaction where contextual conversation, using real-time data, flows from one channel to another. Customer insights from all departments of the bank are needed to ensure the conversational experience feels natural, engaging and seamless; there's no room for traditional product segmentation or channel silos.
This is where the rich channel coverage of VeriPark's VeriChannel can help. VeriChannel offers a secure unified platform that allows banks to manage seamless customer journeys across multiple customer touchpoints. The platform ensures customers and employees can access the personalized data they need anytime, anywhere and on any device.
VeriChannel also offers voice banking to the customers who don't have access to devices such as Alexa or Siri. By using the LUIS powered APIs in its applications, VeriChannel eliminates the need of being connected to an additional device.
LUIS, Microsoft's machine learning-based service to build natural language into apps, bots, and IoT devices, helps VeriChannel to be voice-activated even if it's running in a browser on your laptop or hand-held device. It enables the customers to make many transactions such as payments faster by using voice commands only, without a single click.
Voice-Banking is to become a key pillar in frictionless Omni-Channel banking alongside online, mobile and a smaller digitally-enabled branch network. The ultimate goal is to move more interactions to voice, supporting sales and customer care with greater personalization and zero friction. Forward-thinking banks are already thinking about how to integrate Voice-Banking into their customer offer – to foster engagement with real-time insights and create brand differentiation.
Remember, for this new generation of digital customers, tapping screens to find information or make payments will feel as frustrating as remembering PIN numbers or standing in queues.
Would you like to find out more? If so, get in touch with us!
Would you like to find out more? If so, get in touch with us!
VeriPark has been working side-by-side with Microsoft for many years to drive the growth of its FSI-specific digital solutions across the globe. To maximize the strength of this partnership, VeriPark recently enrolled in the Microsoft Business Applications ISV Connect Program which focuses on mutual success for both companies.
Thanks to this program, VeriPark gets the highest level of technical, sales and marketing support when taking Microsoft's offerings to banks and insurance companies. In turn, these companies can get all the benefits and the support they need to serve their customers in a better way while accelerating their digital transformation tremendously.
By collaborating to win with Microsoft, VeriPark can bring the full power of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to the Financial Services Industry in a much easier way. It empowers them to provide premium digital experiences to transform customer journeys that were never imagined before. By offering an AI-powered customer onboarding solution for instance, VeriPark gives financial organizations a perfect chance to impress their customers at first sight, reach a broader set of new customers while increasing revenue and differentiating themselves from the competition.
Watch the video below to hear more about the reasons why VeriPark values this partnership with Microsoft so much.
Would you like to find out more? If so, get in touch with us!
The digital age gave birth to a new Omni-Channel world, in which people are "always on and connected." In this world, customers seldom consider what channel they're using. What they are really concerned about is being able to find the answers to their specific needs when they want, how they want. They also want to be in charge of their interactions across all channels.
Rising expectations for Omni-Channel experiences in the broader market are also creating new challenges and opportunities in the insurance landscape. Insurers must rethink the way they do business to create better customer journeys and offer consistent and engaging customer experiences across all touch-points.
So how can you use Omni-Channel to offer a strong customer journey?
1. Use a single integrated platform to drive consistent customer journeys
For customers, channels such as mobile apps, websites, chatbots, call centers and insurance agents are simply a way to communicate. They jump on the channel of choice and interact with their insurers. For example, they can chat with an agent to renew their earthquake insurance while making a claim on the application.
By blending different channels into a single experience, insurers can bridge the gap between customers and their teams and successfully manage a number of journeys across channels throughout the customer lifecycle. But if there are different back-end systems in place to manage different touch-points it is often very difficult to deliver smooth customer journeys.
The key is to focus on the customers' end-to-end experience instead of individual touchpoints and unify the Dynamics 365 CRM platform and Omni-Channel servicing capabilities. By orchestrating the various back-end systems, you can avoid broken customer experiences and deliver outstanding unified communications instead.
2. Offer rich channel coverage in low-touch insurance business
Insurers have long struggled with the customer interactions. On one hand, the customers expect high-touch, personalized services regardless of the industry. Insurance is no exception to this. But by its very nature, insurance remains a low-touch industry.
Most customers only want to interact with their insurers for potential and existing policies or for claims. Very often, they choose interacting with agents and brokers but they also want to be supported and helped when they need, at all hours of the day. Engage with them through the channels they prefer and in ways which are attuned to their specific situations. Microsoft Luis, Alexa, Siri, and other intelligent systems incorporating AI and machine learning can help.
For instance, insurers that are using AI-powered tools can now provide guidance for their customers through chatbots. According to a Gartner report, "AI bots will power 85 percent of all customer service interactions by the year 2020."
AI-powered chatbots provide intelligent human-like conversations through all digital channels. They enable insurers to deliver services to their "always-on" customers right at their fingertips with an instant chat feature that is available 24/7.
3. Make a good impression during the First Notification of Loss
Being involved in a car accident or having a burst pipe can be one of the most stressful and upsetting situations someone experiences. The last thing the customer wants in this situation is not being taken care of quickly and efficiently.
The clock starts when the customer initiates the claim. Speed, accuracy, and transparency in the claims process really are essential to increasing engagement and retention. If the insurer fails to have the claim record filed on time after the incident, it affects the entire customer journey, from validation to deployment of services. It also translates into poor customer experience and increased costs.
In these delicate times it's important to offer interactions through the channel of a customer's choice with the ability to change their channel throughout the process and receive status updates.
Millenial customers in particular prefer digital channels to interact with their insurers. Use existing channels such as WhatsApp, social media and mobile apps for claims and enrich the customer engagement.
4. The customer should only have to tell their story once
How can you offer enjoyable and compelling customer journeys when your customers only get to experience your service when something unpleasant happens? The answer is actually very simple. Ensure they only have to share their unpleasant story once.
Give them the opportunity to switch seamlessly between channels so they don't have to tell the story over and over again. This is only possible when you have all of your customer-facing processes optimized, and complex workarounds and disconnected processes are streamlined.
In order to do that, integrate an Omni-Channel framework that is easy for employees to use and eliminates process workarounds. This way you can serve your customers and all their needs from claiming to renewing across all channels and products.
On the other hand, it is extremely important for insurers to transform their processes and operating models to become more customer-centric. Once you have the entire customer interaction history at your fingertips you can add value to their experiences.
5. Embed customer-centricity into your company's DNA
Success in the Omni-Channel insurance world starts with embedding a customer-centric mindset into the company's DNA. Customer-centricity helps to move away from the product-driven approach toward understanding customers' needs, both in aggregate and at an individual level. This mindset and the knowledge it generates, lead to highly personalized solutions and tailored experiences that are relevant to each individual's situation.
6. The challenge of finding good data
Even though insurance companies increasingly feel the competitive pressure to offer personalized experiences across multiple channels, there might be some challenges, particularly around limited data. Without the right insights and information, you can't offer personalized products and service levels anywhere at anytime. But the good thing is there is a way to turn this around: The unification of customer data!
By unifying and enhancing customer data collection, using the growing number of devices that are linked as part of IoT technology can accelerate purchasing and claims resolution cycles and offer tailored services.
7. Be ready for an open API architecture
Insurers looking for ways to reduce development and maintenance costs should have an ecosystem based on an open API architecture. An Omni-Channel solution that doesn't require rebuilding legacy applications from scratch helps to repurpose them by integrating content, data, and functionality into a new presentation layer or customer experience.
8. Maximize the value of Dynamics 365 licenses
Use an integrated Omni-Channel delivery and CRM solution built on top of Dynamics 365 to use the full potential of D365 licenses across your company's value chain. Implementing an insurance industry-specific solution that leverages Dynamics 365 enables insurers to effectively manage and nurture relationships across customers, agents and brokers. This way, you can eliminate boundaries between digital and assisted channels while delivering unified communications through one single platform.
One of your favorite brands sends you a special offer notification using geo-location data. You order online and choose whether to pick up your purchase in-store or have it delivered to your home or office. A few years ago, this would have seemed revolutionary but now it's commonplace.
Millennials in particular are accustomed to this level of personalized service. They know what they want from their shopping experience and their apps create a seamless journey between physical and digital worlds. The insurance industry cannot ignore these new customer demands.
Customers expect rich channel coverage
We're no longer operating in a single, or even multi-channel, world. Instead, we're shifting to a model where customers, of all ages, expect to move fluidly within and between channels for quotes, transactions, service enquiries and claims. Adopting an Omni-Channel strategy is rapidly becoming non-negotiable.
How do you create remarkable customer journeys through all your touchpoints?
Let's look at Oliver's experience with his insurance company as an example.
Oliver's a 32-year old sales manager living in Utrecht. Although it's a cycle-friendly city, Oliver owns a car. That's partly for practical reasons because he drives to see clients across the Netherlands. But, also because he just loves his car!
When Oliver needs to contact his insurer, he doesn't think in terms of separate channels. For example, if he wants to renew his car insurance, he jumps online because that's convenient and efficient. At other times, if he's unsure about something, he might seek the support of an agent at the contact center by phone, email or chatbot.
Great customer experience starts with unified customer communications
Customers like Oliver expect their insurance company to blend these different channels into a single, engaging customer experience. But, too often, boundaries between different channels cause communication breakdowns. The result is that essential customer data and insight is not always available across all digital channels, contact centers, brokers and sales teams.
But, it doesn't have to be that way. For example, Generali, one of the world's biggest Life and Property & Casualty (P&C) insurance companies, implemented VeriPark's VeriChannel, a unified Omni-Channel delivery solution alongside the VeriTouch Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. The solution delivered unified customer communications and seamless, consistent customer journeys across multiple touchpoints.
Insurers need to make every customer interaction count
Sadly, for Oliver, he currently has a bigger problem than simply renewing his insurance. He's badly damaged his car reversing out of a city car park. Thankfully, he's unhurt but his beloved car certainly isn't.
Many customers only contact their insurance provider when they're already feeling stressed or upset. Maybe, like Oliver, they've been involved in a traffic accident, or perhaps their roof is leaking or their much-loved pet is poorly. Whatever the situation, they're looking for speed, accuracy and a caring approach.
Oliver contacts with the insurer's contact center. He's still upset about his car (and a bit embarrassed) and the last thing he wants is to feel compelled to re-tell his distressing story multiple times at each interaction with his insurer. Thankfully, the contact center agent Sanneke has it all under control.
She has the VeriTouch Contact Center Module on her desktop, so she can manage all enquiries, claims and transactions on one screen. It also means that Oliver can seamlessly switch between channels throughout his claims process, depending on what's convenient for him at the time.
Oliver was delighted to have a named contact to call
The personal touch is hugely important in the insurance sector. In fact, research suggests that despite the increasing popularity of digital channels, around 85% of customers want to talk to a broker or agent at some point in the relationship lifecycle. This is often the case during difficult times or in delicate situations.
By implementing the Remote Advisor module of VeriTouch, insurers can give every customer a named agent at the contact center when they need someone to turn to. As we see in Oliver's claim scenario, agent Sanneke becomes his remote advisor in time and and whenever Oliver calls she will be there to help him with his enquiries.
For Generali, this was a critical element to building trust and strong customer relationships and loyalty. Their agents were able to greet callers as individuals. They also had a better insight into their customers' problems and were able to deliver a higher level of personal service.
Serve, solve and sell all in one place
VeriPark's unified front-end 360-degree View of the Customer feature transforms insurance customer service. For example, when Oliver wants a new insurance quote he can go through the online data collection, validation and risk assessment process, or he can contact Sanneke who has everything she needs on a single screen. Oliver can also switch seamlessly between the two if he needs help or status updates at any time.
The process with VeriPark is fast and efficient. As Generali has found it can generate offers in just one minute and create policies in three minutes. Agents can also answer queries and process claims quickly. The Service Request and Complaints Management module captures data and automates workflows to ensure a personalized response. Generali has seen this superior service boost customer loyalty and reduce churn.
Because agents have a complete customer history, they have more informed, personalized conversations and build stronger customer relationships. They can also create relevant cross-selling and up-selling offers based on consolidated and up-to-date customer data. In just one year, Generali's combined contact center and online platform converted quotes into 80,000 policy sales.
For a tech-savvy customer like Oliver, digital platforms are great for convenient and efficient transactions. But, when he needed help, he was relieved to have Sanneke on the end of the phone at the contact center. The insurance landscape has changed and now's the time to harness Omni-Channel technology to transform your customer experience and offer the Olivers of this world the level of service they want and expect.
Microsoft has recently announced the private preview of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Banking Accelerator which is a solution released to sit on top of an existing Dynamics instance and assist with day-to-day banking operations. The solution has been split into both Retail and Commercial banking and can be implemented with one or both solutions installed into an existing instance. The Accelerator contains installable solutions that include standard entity attribute extensions, new banking entities, pre-built dashboards, workflows, sample data as well as other tools to help customers and partners build and deploy new banking solutions.
What is in there for banks and ISVs?
With the Banking data model, there is no need to build various models and structures for each app. It simplifies data management and empowers ISVs to build solutions on top of a unified data layer.
The accelerator is designed to help developing banking solutions in both retail and commercial spaces and transform customers' banking experiences. By using the accelerator, banks can cut down their development time, access to best-practice and standardized data model and quickly create powerful apps. They can also gain new customer insights and transform transactional and Omni-Channel data into a data set for superior customer experience management.
VeriPark & Microsoft Collaboration
Thanks to the track record of successful digital transformation projects in different countries, VeriPark's Banking Data Model has matured and evolved over the last 20 years. It became a world-class, field-proven technology that is used by over 100 banks worldwide. VeriPark has shared its industry-specific proven expertise & deep knowledge with Microsoft to help building a common data structure for Financial Services Industry (FSI) on top of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. By using the foundation of VeriPark's Banking Data Model for a defined set of functionality, Microsoft has created an open source model checked by industry specialists such as Bian and Fiserv.
"We are excited to partner with Microsoft on the development of a data model designed for the needs and business processes of banks and financial institutions. VeriPark is committed to helping define the model and deliver our solutions atop the new Banking Accelerators. The new Banking data model allows VeriPark to have a consistent and defined data structure to generate insights and actions to help our joint customers become digital leaders by improving their customer experience and retention." says Ozkan Erener, CEO VeriPark.
Banking accelerator as a starting point for digital transformation
"We believe that Common Data Model and the business applications & accelerators built around this model will be a great starting point for banks' digital transformation journeys." says Gokhan Cakiroglu, CTO VeriPark.
VeriPark and Microsoft work side by side to deliver innovative and truly transforming customer journeys for their clients in FSI. VeriPark is proud to be part of the Common Data Model initiative for Banking and it will continue to collaborate with Microsoft and bring its know-how to the table to accelerate digital transformation for financial institutions.
We live in a world that is more connected than ever, generating more data than ever. The new age of digital transformation is often referred to as the fourth phase of the industrial revolution that has fundamentally transformed the ways in which financial institutions operate. The banks are no exception to this technological revolution. The arrival of advanced technology along with improved communication networks has forced conventional banks to come out of their shell and open their doors to new innovations. Such innovations have paved the way for community banking, a model that is centered-around building customers' trust in the banks. We are no longer seeing long queues, paper-based transactions or bankers sitting behind glass cabins. On the contrary, what we are witnessing today is bankers having an in-depth view of every customer from different channels, allowing them to offer personalized services to their customers.
The paradigm shift from an operational standpoint for a bank can be attributed to its pursuit of keeping up to date with technology. Technology has also impacted banks' organizational structure, processes and internal culture. Conventional banks are now facing challenges in embracing this change. Employee resistance, designing ergonomic IT artifacts, maintaining data quality, to name a few. However, banks can't bear the cost of not embracing this change as it could translate into a significant decrease of their market share.
This major change in banking is not only driven by the technological advancements. Banks are also trying to enter new markets and acquire new customer segments. These new segments can have different expectations when it comes to services and capability delivery. The combination of technological advancements with the willingness to acquire new customer segments has profoundly forced the banks to develop a new perspective built around IT solutions that are customer-centric.
When we talk about being customer-centric, universal bankers come into play. In banking, there is - more than ever - an increased need for engagement and relationship growth. In addition to performing a variety of tasks associated with transactional customer requests, the universal bankers are also in the key position to develop new business opportunities with the customers who are coming through the branch doors. They are the face of the banks. They can act as tellers and open accounts, handle teller transactions, inform customers of other product and services that meet their needs. Universal bankers are also full time bankers and they aim to develop deep and meaningful relationships with the customers, educate them and strive to make each interaction the best customer experience of the day.
In order to make this happen, the IT system of the banks should be able to provide a clear insight into customer data. This valuable data would enable the universal bankers to make informed decisions and bring out maximum profitability for the bank during any interaction with the customer.
Here are a few tips for the banks to successfully develop and adopt a customer-centric approach while catching up with technological advancements.
Provide a clear insight into customer data
A "single customer view" captures and populates data from different systems. When it's combined with the contemporary Artificial Intelligence and decision driving analytics, the bank can use information about past and current stages of the customer journey and make predictions for the future. Such system would enable the banks to "Sell, Solve and Serve".
Complete transactions in the fewest clicks
With every physical interaction the customer has with the bank, the goal - for the bank - is to generate maximum value in terms of revenue or customer satisfaction.
In a modern banking scenario, if there is a targeted offer for the customer in the customer single customer view and if the banker is able to capture the customer's interest in the offer during the interaction, the IT system should be capable to integrate with the back office allowing for fulfillment of the offer. To handle such scenarios, the IT solution should not only act as a screen populated with data about the client. The application also needs to be mature enough to accommodate interactive scenarios. On a broader level the system should not only be advanced in terms of data management but also be capable of process enhancement while providing service efficiencies. The goal should be to complete transactions in the fewest clicks.
Replace old systems with an up-to-date user interface
Finally, the ergonomic look and feel of the system plays a crucial role in shaping the adoption of these IT systems. The applications should have a contemporary user interface (UI) that can overcome the challenges of conventional blue screens (non-interactive DOS systems). The look and feel of the solution should match up with modern applications of the mobile devices. In a conventional banking infrastructure, the bankers feel more up-to-date with technology while working from their homes, however as soon as they walk into the branch, the conventional UI takes them fifteen years back to ancient systems. Such traditional systems have a causality on the customer's perception of the bank. Bankers feel more confident dealing with applications they can relate to. Such relation triggers the system's adoption intuitively, since it gets easier to understand the flow and functionality of the system.
The tips above are an attempt to list the initial features needed to build a roadmap for the development of such applications, but the list is certainly not exhaustive. Banks are now viewed as a web of forces that come together to provide a modern and seamless experience to their clients. Among these forces, IT capability of the bank certainly stands as a differentiator in this fast-changing market. Institutions that are quick to adopt such solutions can create synergies with their customers and have an early mover advantage. These institutions that are investing in technology rebuild the way they operate in a digital world and drive innovation to transform overall customer experience.
In 2018, 69% of internet users in the EU shopped online. All the evidence strongly suggests they value the ease and convenience. That customer demand doesn't stop with home delivery of groceries and fashion.
In fact, Doorstep Banking – bringing banking to wherever the customer is, through a team of direct sales agents – is now a growing trend. That's because your customers have hectic schedules. They have careers and a long commute, perhaps a business to run and a family to care for – or a combination of these to juggle. Anything that saves them time is highly valued.
Many people still like to have face-to-face contact with their bank, but simply don't have time to visit the branch. Doorstep Banking combines the convenience of digital technology with a friendly and reassuring human touch.
Why go to the bank when the bank can come to me?
This is the question many of your customers are asking. Perhaps your customer is an ambitious career-minded professional. They're comfortable using digital tools to automate routine tasks and save time. But, what about when they want funds to buy a car or pay for their on-going professional development?
They're perfectly happy to submit a personal loan application digitally. But, it's a complex decision and sensitive issue, so they'd welcome the opportunity to speak to a trusted adviser. Someone they can rely on to give context and explain the available options. They don't have time to go to a branch but they welcome the human interaction of a direct sales agent visiting them at their office. And, they value seeing someone with the time, knowledge and skills to build a strong relationship.
When VeriPark and VakıfBank, one of Turkey's largest banks, worked together to develop an iPad application for their 2,400 direct sales agents, they found that 90% of retail banking operations could be delivered, quickly and efficiently, to the customer's doorstep. The result was hassle-free banking for the customer – and the following three major business benefits for VakifBank:
1. Enhanced customer relationships
Direct sales teams have always been an effective way of maintaining relationships and increasing customer engagement. But, they used to rely on paperwork and manual data entry. They also lacked access to customer information to facilitate up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.
Now, customer onboarding and servicing is easy and paperless. One tablet application provides a 360-degree view of the customer, as well as comprehensive banking features and products. No wonder customers and sales agents love it.
Sales agents can register new customers, open accounts and process loan and credit card applications. They can even help customers set up and use mobile and internet banking. An Eligibility Calculator, synchronized with back office customer information, allows them to gain digital approval for loans and overdrafts.
The ability to carry out transactions instantly, combined with the support provided by the sales agent, has resulted in a significant increase in customer satisfaction. It also allows agents to transition to more of a Universal Banker role. They can provide a holistic service to customers and boost proactive cross-selling initiatives, based on their improved understanding of client needs.
2. Increased processing efficiency
Going completely paperless brings many benefits. Most importantly, it means you can meet your customers' expectations of anytime, anywhere instant access to banking services and information.
When your direct sales agents are spending less time filling in forms, they can spend more time enhancing customer relationships. Digitally streamlined workflows are also much more efficient. VakıfBank, for example, were able to process 600,000 new applications in 18 months and for some transactions, such as loans, the process became eight times faster.
3. Improved sales team productivity
A task management system delivers location-based assignments to direct sales agents. That means they're no longer tied to a specific branch and can manage their customer visits efficiently across an entire city or region, boosting sales performance and employee satisfaction. It also means the bank's management team can monitor the performance of their sales agents and provide more effective support.
Despite the rise of technology, great customer service is still driven by human interaction. By making full use of digital tools, VakıfBank effectively increased their number of bank branches from 957 to 3,500 – but without the expense of operating a huge network of physical branches. However, it's their team of digitally connected direct sales agents in the field that really puts their customer service and relationship banking a step ahead of their competitors.
Change is here, more is coming. Digital banks and fintech startups have brought disruption into the banking industry. There has been a dramatic change in the traditional banking system as banks feel the pressure to match the innovative solutions and services offered by new fintech startups.
On the customer side, the mobile platforms are enriched to provide a variety of transactional features as more and more customers now prefer banking on digital channels. The majority of the population doesn't want to take the time to visit a branch and wait in line. The questions then arise, "What does the future look like for branches in the banking ecosystem? Is branch a thing of the past?"
Surprisingly, the answer is Not Just Yet! There are still many customers who continue to see the value of branches. When we look deep into demographic details, customer preferences and trends, we clearly see that branches remain a relevant part of customers' financial engagements.
Let's take a look at some statistics and consumer responses from the Asia-Pacific region for instance. While the internet penetration has taken the Asian market by storm, the culture of trust remains the main factor influencing customer behavior. Traditionally, the region has been known to value trust and personal relationships the most. This also applies to their financial handlings; half of the consumers still prefer face to face interactions in branches. (PwC 2018).
Similar trends are recognized in the Australian consumer behaviors. A PwC Consumer survey identified that 59% of Australians still prefer branches as their go-to channel when it comes to loan products. So much so that Australian banks chose to re-open branches. 45% of customers who responded to a KPMG survey selected branches as their go-to channel for home loan applications. The statistics clearly show that for Australian banks, where home loans for a total amount of $21 billion were issued in 2018, losing the branch channel is not an option (KPMG 2017). The trend continues with a major impact of branches on customer acquisitions for Checking and Savings accounts (58%), brokerage and investment accounts (43%) and financial advisory services (37%) (PwC 2018).
According to another recent study conducted by Bain & Company, globally 65% consumers are influenced by the presence of branches in their neighborhood. The branches or let's just say the assisted channels with human presence have high value when it comes to meet with the customer's rising expectations. The study also shows that in the US, most of the customers choose channels where they can interact with humans.
While branches maintain their strong position in the banking ecosystem, the operational costs are a serious concern for most banks, especially in a highly competitive financial landscape. The challenge is to find a good balance between maintaining branches cost-effectively while offering high service capabilities and digital offerings. This is where digital teams in a bank need to consider how to shape their digital journeys. An answer to this challenge is VeriPark's Customer Engagement Suite. The Omni-Channel Delivery, Customer Engagement and Branch Automation solutions bring a unique set of offerings that not only help banks to reduce interaction cost but also help to become more customer-centric. Collectively they provide the right tools for the banks to elevate customer experience.
KPMG (2017) 'The Australian home market, winning the fight for customers'
PwC (2018) 'PwC's 2018 Digital Banking Consumer'
Bain and Company (2017) 'Evolving the Customer Experience In Banking'
Get in touch with us to find out how these solutions empower banks to develop more engaging interactions with their customers by capturing their needs and placing customers at the core of their digital transformation.