Using intelligent automation to transform the customer journey

Digital transformation in banking started well before the pandemic, largely due to standards being raised by companies such as Facebook and Netflix and competing organizations entering the financial services picture. These organizations range from mobile payment services, such as Venmo and PayPal, to tech giant Amazon, where 65 percent of its Prime members say they would sign up for a free bank account with the company.

COVID-19, however, has forced an even faster and more widespread shift as customers across the spectrum demand more contactless services.

Many banks are successfully using AI-based platforms and tools with predictive and adaptive analytics to digitally deliver a personalized customer experience. But these same innovators need to consider that understanding the products and services that suit a customer’s needs in the moment may not be enough. Consumer demands will continue to rise, as will expectations that providers should be able to predict future needs and meet them in real time.

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Intelligent automation (IA), which integrates artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and robotic processing automation, can capture the data that manages customer interactions and provide greater accuracy and faster response times than AI alone. But many institutions are hampered by complex legacy systems. Migrating away from these systems will take time and technical expertise, both of which are in short supply.

In response, low-code/no-code platforms and tools are growing in popularity to augment legacy systems, accelerate the software development process and implement IA on a larger scale.

Best practices for successful IA implementation

For financial institutions looking to quickly deploy a low-code/no-code IA solution to remain nimble and competitive, here are several simple steps that can streamline the process:

Define the project: Too often, software engineers spend months, even years, coding and building a solution that does not meet the business team’s expectations. As with any project, the most important first step is bringing together all stakeholders to prioritize the business need and use metrics to set clear goals, be it to modernize the CRM platform, streamline call center operations or other objective.

Collaborate throughout the process: With low-code/no-code development, collaboration between tech and business teams should not end with defining the project goals. Instead, its visual modeling and drag-and-drop interfaces enable different departments, including non-technical groups, to interact with the application to ensure it meets the desired need. It also greatly reduces the frequency of errors because it is much easier to spot glitches than with manual coding.

Evaluate multiple platforms: There are two main factors to consider when analyzing different vendor offerings: Which platform is most compatible with the development and business teams’ styles, and which will deliver the best results for the required application and customer outcome?

Here are three “must-do” evaluations during this phase.

  • Use a variety of research tools: Augment the vendor specs with detailed, third-party research. Many analyst firms, such as Gartner and Forrester, as well as reputable IT news organizations, publish free product reviews and analyses that help parse which platforms are better suited to specific needs.
  • Talk to your networks: Endorsements from trusted colleagues and industry professionals who have experience with different products can provide a much-needed gut check.
  • Test, test, test: Many low-code/no-code development platforms provide free editions for testing purposes. Identify those that don’t put too many limitations on the features that can be accessed. And be sure to test compatibility with existing legacy systems to ensure continuous operations.

Document customer preferences: Shortcuts in customer data documentation are tempting, but they can cause more work down the road. Simple protocols, such as managing customer contact information and preferred communication method, are vital. Ensuring these changes are automatically made throughout all the organization’s databases will increase customer engagement and retention.

Create diverse teams: While tech professionals trained in specific skills are critical in software development, today’s low-code/no-code platforms and tools allow people without formal training to contribute to the process. Talent from diverse backgrounds can often bring fresh perspectives that yield better results. Additionally, keep in mind the importance of soft skills, especially communication and collaboration.

IA has the power to transform the customer journey by helping financial institutions continuously learn and use real-time decisioning to deliver customized products and services, but it can only be effective if executed thoughtfully and with purpose.

For firms looking to make the leap, it is best to design the macro journey by starting with a series of micro journeys. Conduct your due diligence, create a strategic plan, rethink your talent and always keep the customer top-of-mind.

Dave Donelan is senior vice president at SkillStorm.