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Banks in the digital age: How can I reach my clients?

For banks, digital and mobile banking is currently the most important touchpoint for client contact. However, many banks are not yet able to reach out to clients through these channels sufficiently. The new buzzword in this regard is 'conversational banking', and banks would do well to take notice of it. But what does it actually mean? And what concrete added value does it offer to financial institutions and their clients?

Banking communication is increasingly shifting to the digital world. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that digital channels have replaced physical branches as the most important touchpoints for client communication. According to a study recently published by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU), 92 per cent of all banking clients use digital banking. Despite this clear shift, many banks are finding it difficult to reach out to clients via digital channels. Such channels need to be monitored around the clock, demand fast reaction times and should provide a response to clients' individual concerns as personally as a client adviser in a branch.

The existing digital banking services offered by most banks are primarily aimed at simplifying everyday processes to increase the transactional engagement of clients. While this can enhance efficiency, it also reduces direct human interaction between the client and an adviser. And this does not allow for sustainable differentiation from other providers. Due to the emergence of neobanks, the introduced Open Banking Standards and changed client expectations – which have been accelerated by COVID-19 – banks need to focus on personal client relationships again in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. Banks should definitely take the following three trends into consideration:

1. Omnichannel – seamless communication

As the HSLU study shows, digital banking provides an optimal starting point for client interaction. Nevertheless, communication must become personalised and needs-based from this point on. For banks, this means that information is sent out over several channels and both the client and the adviser can keep an overview of the situation. To ensure this, banks need a comprehensive omnichannel strategy with which they can map and control the flow of information digitally and automatically. It makes sense here to digitalise communication in order to avoid media discontinuities, as the latter can often cause a dialogue to be broken off.

2. Personalised data analytics – the incentive must be right

In order to gain the trust of clients, it is important to provide them with relevant information rather than as much as possible. This means that banks must be familiar with their clients and their clients' needs to be able to contact them with the right offers at the right time. The key to this lies in a technology-based evaluation of existing data as well as personalised and context-specific offers. 

3. Client engagement – cultivating the relationship

A relationship is not comprised of one-way communication but is based on ongoing dialogue between an adviser and client. Digital channels give advisers the opportunity to support their clients proactively, to provide them with information and also to engage in regular dialogue with them, including personal conversations. Such conversations create trust and enable human exchange to take place on a digital level as well.

Digital dialogue strengthens personal relationships
These trends are leading banks to a new development known as 'conversational banking', which allows a digital dialogue without any media discontinuities. The term refers to client journeys that are entirely digitally integrated, thanks to the inclusion of text, voice and video-based messaging. It has replaced e-mail and telephone as the most important digital form of communication worldwide. This means that messaging channels are becoming central touchpoints in a bank's interaction with its clients – from initial contact to the conclusion of a transaction or the purchase of a service.

Digital client journey using the example of buying a house
Here is an example of how banks can best support their clients using conversational banking:

For most people, buying a property will be the biggest expenditure of their lives. However, deciding on a financing option is associated with uncertainty, fears and a certain mistrust of providers. A tech-savvy house buyer usually contacts the bank by using a financing calculator to find out about terms and conditions. The client is then often asked to fill out a contact form to arrange an appointment. To do this, they must repeatedly submit all the data that they have already entered online. 

A financial institution can score a massive competitive advantage if it begins a conversation with the potential client at this early stage. Conversational banking does this without any media discontinuity: a secure messenger integrated into the website enables text, voice or video-based exchange. An automated chatbot or a personal adviser continues the interaction seamlessly – up to the point when the bank sends the client a binding offer as a PDF via the messenger service.

Of course, it is also possible to start a conversation via a popular messenger service such as WhatsApp, but this often fails due to security concerns and the fact that not all functionalities are integrated and not all important client information is available.

If conversational banking is in place, the process continues: information collected on public or bank-owned property portals as well as the conversation history from messenger services such as WhatsApp can be seamlessly integrated into the conversational banking solution. The online identification process to turn a prospective client into an active client can be carried out immediately and at any time.

This allows them to conclude the desired and finally negotiated financing directly via the channel of their choice, for example via their mobile device, with an electronic signature.

Where to start?
To be able to exploit the full potential of conversational banking, banks would do well to make use of a proprietary conversational banking solution that is tailored to the requirements of the financial industry. In addition, messaging should be integrated into the entire range of digital banking services to enable processing across different products without any media discontinuity.

Implementation in the form of a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, such as that offered by CREALOGIX, is especially easy, as it allows banks to get started with conversational banking quickly and cost-effectively. They can start small and scale up quickly if necessary. In the future, digital and mobile banking will increasingly develop into platforms that can be supplemented with numerous additional and third-party services as part of open banking. Banks that, thanks to conversational banking, offer their clients seamless and personal support via this service landscape are already well equipped for this development.

Learn more about “Conversational Banking” in our whitepaper

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