Communicating with customers and colleagues when face-to-face is a no-go

The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 is causing havoc in all aspects of American life, and the banking industry is certainly no exception.

The requests for customers and employers to enact social distancing – and in more extreme cases, isolation and even quarantining – has placed enormous pressure on financial institutions to find innovative ways to continue operations and serve customers in radically different ways.

Practically every bank has already deployed some form of digital infrastructure to manage remote employees and customer service, but with the expected spike in online traffic, banks and other financial providers would be well-served to review their processes to serve customers during the pandemic.

Focus on seamless visual engagement

As banks increase customer interactions outside the branch setting, they should consider visual engagement tools to assist customers that have issues or questions that cannot be readily resolved through self-service tools.

Visual engagement tools that include co-browse, screen share and video can work seamlessly across all browsers, devices and operating systems, providing operational conformity for the bank, and convenience for the customer. With a single click, a session can be instantly launched, bringing together the banker or loan officer or financial adviser with the consumer to collectively resolve any questions.

It’s important to note that regardless of how robust these features are, customers will always have questions and run into problems that automated tools aren’t equipped to handle. If these concerns are not adequately addressed in a timely manner, customers will no doubt become frustrated, and the bank-consumer relationship becomes tarnished. Good visual engagement capabilities can mitigate this by inserting real-time human-to-human engagement into digital interactions.

Focus on security

Banks equipping their front-line staff with sharing and collaboration technology need to carefully evaluate the ramifications of their chosen solutions. Standard screen share offerings are easy to source and easy to deploy, but they may expose banks to security and privacy breaches.

For example, if another customer’s record is visible when an agent shares his screen, this is a potential breach. If a customer is sharing the screen during a customer service session and an account number, PIN or social security number is visible to the agent, this may be a PII violation.

The sharing technology should have a console that lets IT administrators set guardrails about what functionality is provisioned to the staff member, what apps can be shared, and even what fields should be masked during a sharing session.  Banks should work with vendors that use advanced encryption tools when data is on the fly, and if transmitted data is at rest or stored, the bank needs to ensure this complies with their data security and privacy policies. All transactional and customer details should reside within the bank’s data center.

And banks should only work with partners that are certified to handle data in secure financial settings. For example, vendors that achieved the rigorous ISO 27001 certification have demonstrated compliance with rigorous technical standards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of customer data.

Focus on infrastructure

From an infrastructure perspective, most banks already have ample bandwidth at the core to cope with the expected surges in network usage. However, the situation is not as clear at the network edge, where bandwidth can become constricted, and workers will be tasked to set up home offices to perform their job functions.

Most companies ship a router and IP phone to their employees, and then request them to install the devices on their own. If an employee has issues or questions with the install, they typically call tech support, explain the problem, and hopefully find a quick resolution. This poses a problem for IT who cannot go on-site to resolve these issues due to social distancing mandates – even if they had the manpower to perform this volume of hands-on service.

With more employees now working remotely, banks should find more expedient tools to help employees set up their workspaces. One effective remedy is for banks to leverage video field-based field technical support—either through the bank app or through mobile browser. This tool leverages the camera on the employee’s mobile phone to show the support desk the specific problem they are having, and then collaborate with the help desk to find a workaround to the problem.

By running this feature through the bank infrastructure, all communications remain secure, making it preferable to using Facetime or another consumer application that is not integrated into the bank’s IT service management platform. This ‘see, show and share’ capability allows remote staff to get up-and-running with minimal downtime, and while ensuring secure integration with the bank’s IT Service Management or CRM platforms.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing banks to instantly rethink how they conduct business, and the anxiety is no doubt palpable. It’s important that banks take full advantage of their digital capabilities to satisfy the needs of both staff and customers. By leveraging the right digital tools, banks should be able to operate efficiently and profitably.

Clyde Logue is vice president of products at Glance Networks.