Post-COVID-19 banking: The human element meets the digital

Though online banking and digital banking have been at the forefront of industry trends for the last couple of years, studies show that many financial institutions have remained hesitant to deploy new digital solutions or at least have not made it a high priority to do so. Until now.

As a result of the pandemic, digital banking usage has never been higher. Looking beyond the pandemic, consumer preference for communication via digital channels will only grow stronger.

The banking industry needs to provide customers with a more simplified, seamless communication experience as the use of digital banking solutions increases. However, now that the coronavirus has significantly impacted the way that consumers bank, the need to create a frictionless customer journey has become more urgent than ever before.

One such way that banks can reduce friction in the customer journey is by using technology to help personalize the customer experience. What is clear is that the demand for seamless digital customer communications will certainly extend beyond the pandemic. One way that banks can make customers more comfortable as they slowly return to in-branch banking and enhance the customer experience is through providing secure, personal virtual communications that can assist with every aspect of banking.

Whether it be moving money, reviewing transactions or opening new accounts, cloud-based unified communications (UC) technology is increasingly coming to the forefront of the banking world as consumers are relying on their mobile devices more than ever before. And while using a mobile banking app can be pretty straightforward for such routine banking tasks, more sophisticated tasks, such as loan originations, often require an escalation to get the consumer in touch with a live agent.

For example, consider the scenario of a consumer seeking counsel to start the process of applying for a mortgage. Though their local branch may currently be closed or operating under certain restrictions due to COVID-19, the consumer could securely connect with an agent over video from their computer or mobile device and conduct the appointment just as they would had they been able to visit with their loan officer in person. Unlike traditional web conferencing tools, UC solutions allow for the transmission of sensitive data through chat or video while ensuring that consumer data is protected.

The use of video in this scenario provides the customer with an enhanced level of customer service despite the inability to visit in person and, simultaneously, enables the bank to use a lower cost support structure while reducing resolution time. And, most importantly, the consumer is able to accomplish their banking task via a mobile device without sacrificing the human relationship they have with the financial institution.

UC solutions enable financial institutions’ contact center operations to seamlessly engage consumers through a frictionless customer journey – whether it be initiated from secure chat on a mobile device to ultimately requiring real-time video collaboration with an agent. In today’s landscape customers not only expect digital technology to be quick and easy to use, but for the human element of the interaction to be a simple click away.

AI benefits bank and consumer

In addition to UC, banks are now turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help power their contact centers in an effort to help solve customer concerns without requiring a human agent to pick up the phone. At the beginning of this year having AI technology as part of your unified communications-enabled contact center technology was a feature that most banks thought would be ‘nice to have’ once they became more mature in their digital transformation. Now, AI has become a necessary tool to meet consumer expectations.

Banks utilizing unified communications solutions and AI technology can quickly deploy chatbot technology to help front-end common service-related questions without inundating their staff with such a high call volume. AI benefits banks by easing the call load on staff already stressed by the shift to working from home or reducing hours. On the other hand, AI technology benefits consumers by providing quick service at a time when they needed it most, ensuring financial security and peace of mind.

The need for financial institutions to communicate with consumers on any device will remain long after the pandemic has ended. As banking contact centers turn to unified communications solutions to enhance the way they virtually connect with customers, using technology like video collaboration and artificial intelligence will be important to keep the human piece of the relationship alive.

Perry Price is co-founder and CEO at Revation Systems.