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Article 4 min read

How retail banks can create opportunities – when they find their voice

By Lilia Krauser, EMEA Content Specialist

Last updated June 28, 2022

Having to live very differently over the past couple of years has turbo-charged our collective transition to a digital economy. That isn’t just true for retail and e-commerce – it’s also true for other services like banking too.

In fact, freed from old high-street habits, consumers are switching to online challenger banks, such as Monzo and Revolut, in record numbers. Between 2020 and 2027, the global market share for digital banks will grow by 48% to be worth $471 billion. Alongside their always-on convenience, one of the big advantages these banks offer is their customer service – in particular, their use of seamless, modern, omnichannel messaging, which customers are now using in their droves.

Since the pandemic, customers have overcome their reluctance to use anything other than phone support, with the result being that the market for business messaging and chat apps is set to grow from a value of just $2.8 billion in 2019 to $142 billion in 2024. Online banks have been quick to embrace this shift and give consumers numerous easy ways to contact customer support, including via chatbot, messaging app and asynchronous messaging.

Not only do these channels complement the inherent convenience of digital banking, but they also add a layer of reassurance. No matter where you are, or what device you’re using, help is always at hand.

The question is, how can traditional retail banks, often held back by legacy technology and infrastructure, offer the same quality of communication and customer experience?

Adding messaging isn’t as hard as you think

With the right platform, adding messaging capabilities to an existing customer-support ecosystem isn’t as hard as you might imagine. A customer-support platform sits behind your customer-facing channels, such as websites, apps and social media accounts, integrating chat and messaging functions into the different channels.

It also provides a seamless link between those channels and data repositories such as a CRM or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. This means that, no matter how a customer chooses to get in touch, the agent taking on their query always has the latest information to hand.

For customers used to mobile apps, messaging, and chat to contact other service providers, discovering that they can only speak to their bank by either picking up the phone or using a webform introduces friction within the customer experience. However, integrating chat and messaging into all channels eliminates this frustration, allowing customers to seek support on the channel of their choosing.

You need to strike a balance between humans and technology

Despite the urgent need for retail banks to adapt their communications in line with customer preferences, this shouldn’t simply be a case of replacing humans with technology. In fact, often the best outcome is using technology to empower customer-service agents, helping to make them both more productive and happier in their work.

This can be achieved through automation – using chatbots and other automated services to answer simple questions quickly. The same systems can also triage more complex questions, so that agents have much of the information they need, the moment a customer is passed through to them.

With this approach, when a customer really needs or wants to speak to a human, the wait time is shorter and the experience better. What’s more, because you’re allowing users to choose how they want to resolve their queries, with the certainty that human agents are on hand whenever they might need them, customers feel more comfortable and in control.

Evidence shows that consumers are already beginning to feel the benefit of this type of customer-service automation and multichannel communication, and they are keen for it to be applied more widely. Recent Zendesk research found that 45% of EMEA customers expect AI to improve the quality of customer service, while more than half (51%) of them expect AI to make their lives easier.

Remember to keep it personal

As well as benefiting from seamless, multichannel messaging and automation, retail banks can also improve customer experience through the power of personalisation. The customer-service platform that sits behind, and integrates with, all the various chat, messaging and social channels, continuously collects customer data.

Using this information, banks can personalise the customer experience for each customer. This can mean anything from fast-tracking each query to the right team and making sure they instantly have the right information to hand, right through to tailored offers, promotions, reminders and support hints and tips.
This kind of personalisation can have a profound impact on customers’ brand perceptions. Seventy-two per cent of EMEA customers say that a positive experience is likely to make them want to buy again from the same company. While over 83% said they were likely to spend more money with a company able to offer both personalisation and a streamlined customer experience.

Retail banks may be behind their fintech competitors when it comes to digital transformation. However, adding popular messaging options within their existing channels could be the key to attracting and retaining customers in the increasingly crowded financial landscape.

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