, Singapore

Banking on customer experience

By Ricky Kapur

By Ricky Kapur, Head of Asia Pacific, Zoom

Last month, an annual report on customer satisfaction by Singapore Management University’s Institute of Service Excellence (ISE) revealed that on average, customers in Singapore interacted with three unique bank touchpoints, including automated teller machines, physical bank branches and mobile applications.

This points to the importance of viewing each touchpoint on the customer journey. Whether it’s digital or in-person, as make-or-break in impacting customer experience.

In fact, the same report found that consumers’ willingness to try digital banks has fallen year-over-year. Simply being digital, as it stands, is no longer enough to satisfy today’s customers. 

Instead, banks should be racing to deliver enhanced customer experience that is underpinned by a truly omnichannel approach. Getting to the finish line and ahead of the rest will require working smarter — this is how banks can start.

Leveraging smarter technology in banking
The fundamentals to working smart entails the incorporation of advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), across the banking customer journey. This is able to resolve some of the pain points customers face. According to information technology services and consulting firm Capgemini’s World Retail Banking Report 2022, 37% of Singapore respondents feel that banking is not customised enough for them, while 22% think their banks lack a seamless experience across touchpoints.

With AI and ML in the picture, banks can achieve precise customer segmentation based on customer behaviour, preferences, needs and interests. This is an important step to not only driving better customer relationships, but helping banks create a hyper-personalised customer journey for each client.

In particular, integrating AI and ML into everyday customer-facing functions can help banks meet customers where they are. For instance, AI chatbot technology makes it possible for banking providers to offer a 24/7 self-service channel. More progressive chatbots, such as those powered by natural language processing, even have the ability to interpret questions from customers no matter how they are phrased with high accuracy.

For banks, the profit advantage is clear as they are able to meet high volumes of support requests at a lower human cost. Having such technology in place also alleviates the risk of slower response times or inaccurate resolutions especially during spike periods.

Most importantly, this means customers can enjoy the flexibility of engaging in banking interactions whenever and wherever they want — all while enjoying the same level of highly-personalised, quality service.

Making workflows smarter to maximise efficiency
Working smarter, in a different sense of the word, also involves maximising productivity and efficiency with existing resources. This can be achieved by streamlining and improving workflows to increase employee productivity.

Incorporating contact centre functionality, for example, could help financial service consultants do more within a single session. Within a virtual meeting, paperwork can be reviewed directly and customer signatures — traditionally done offline for compliance purposes — securely recorded without having to exit the video interface. This is not only time-saving for customers who no longer need to make a trip down to the physical bank for such paperwork, but for employees who can streamline all these tasks within one interaction.

Similarly, self-service channels like the aforementioned chatbot can free up time for banking consultants to focus on more high-value, impactful activities, whether these are carried out in-person or via a digital channel. This includes areas where human touch is still preferred such as advising clients on loan processes, or devising investing strategies for clients.

By allowing employees to focus their time where human touch is most critical and letting technology do the rest, banks are able to optimise customer experience outcomes across channels.

That said, it is important that any digital solution adopted to help banks work smarter should be seamlessly integrated into existing workflows. For one, this reduces ‘toggle tax’, or the time taken to switch between apps, which can negatively impact productivity. This defeats the purpose of adopting technology.

A platform-first approach that consolidates customer communications and team collaboration also allows banks to ensure that security and compliance are kept top of mind. This is essential to maintaining customer trust — a central piece to the customer experience roadmap for banks, who manage sensitive and private consumer data day in and day out.

This does not need to be complex. Offerings like the ability to configure data residency and retention periods as well as data compliance controls that come with the platform of choice can give customers the confidence that their data across digital touchpoints are protected.
Ultimately, the ideal customer experience roadmap for banks should prioritise both quantity and quality. On one hand, customers want options to connect with their banking providers on the modality they prefer; on the other hand, it is just as crucial to have this connection done over a trusted channel that feels less transactional and more human.

Missing the mark on either count can hurt revenue and business performance, particularly in today’s competitive banking landscape. Incorporating advanced technologies into the banking experience and looking inwards to make everyday workflows more efficient can help banks make inroads on this roadmap.

Customer expectations will always evolve. The way for banks to keep up is not about working a lot harder to meet these heightened customer expectations, but smarter.

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