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How to Stay Human while Embracing Digital Banking

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]Industry trade publications, including The Financial Brand, Digital Banking Report, have shown both users and many financial institutions (FIs) haven’t been ready to bank almost entirely through digital channels. But, in light of recent events, the industry has been thrust into uncharted territory, and all have had to quickly adapt to almost 100% digital banking. For users who have been slow to adopt new technology or FIs just beginning to execute a digital strategy, the need for easy, seamless digital banking has become immediate.

No one could have predicted or prepared for a pandemic that would disrupt life for so many, but FIs who heard increasing user demand for digital banking and acted on it have set themselves and their users up for stability in uncertain times. Whatever shape your digital banking is in, maintaining a human connection will help earn and maintain user trust, and make things easier on your team.

Make users feel as close to your FI as ever

When digital solutions replace what is typically a person-to-person interaction, users want a seamless experience. Though 82% of consumers want interactions driven more by humans than bots (virtual robots that perform repetitive tasks) in the future, users expect bot/human collaboration now to help them easily solve financial problems. Easier said than done at the moment. 

In this new age of social distancing, users also need digital solutions that can help them stay out of the branch. FIs are realizing many users have been unaware of how robust digital banking can get. Because they may bank in-person for needs like opening accounts, depositing checks or cash, or applying for loans, users have not sought out knowledge regarding what they can do via mobile or desktop. We’ll cover more on why and how to raise awareness of digital capabilities among recent digital converts in next week’s blog post.

But for digital natives who fully expect convenience and personalization, FIs may need to be the ones getting hip to what’s possible in digital banking. These types of users have grown accustomed to consumer apps that provide usability and customer service on par with or usually more convenient than a face-to-face interaction. Achieving this level of service requires multiple channels working in harmony, including video chat, conversational banking, social media, SMS, phone, and online voice. Using these preferred modes of communication leads users to answers faster while retaining a personal touch, as FI team members can still directly interact with users. 

The Financial Brand also recommends ways to establish a personal rapport with users before they even log into digital banking. They suggest breaking from scheduled social media posts and email campaigns to not only avoid tone deaf messages, but also set the stage for how they’ll be treated while banking out-of-branch: “In any format or platform, what financial brands should be aiming for is to be helpful — such as relaying decisions about extended payment deadlines and passing on helpful information.” That scheduled tweet about an upcoming event (that’s certainly been cancelled) can be replaced with a timely reminder of what products can help get users through this difficult time. 

Though The Financial Brand advocates for pausing any bot-driven public-facing communications, keep in mind that bots can still be helpful within your digital service experience to begin conversations between users and your team via chat.

More importantly, as we practice social distancing for longer periods of time, social media can serve as a hub for the latest information from FIs. In the social media space, FIs can also engage users, further developing personalized relationships.

Enable your team to humanize digital banking

The financial industry has reached a troublesome intersection. FIs across the country are temporarily closing branches and implementing work-from-home orders for members of their teams at a time when users have increasingly urgent financial questions and needs.

Service representatives are now dealing with highly sensitive personal matters while likely having to navigate disparate legacy systems and interfaces to satisfy users. Once again, these user interactions take place across email, live chat, social media apps, phone, and more. Investing in tools that integrate with digital banking platforms to bridge the gaps between these channels can make personal communication direct and simple for users and the FI. 

Ease of use for service reps is just as important as it is for users, as only 35% of FI agents say they have the necessary information and tools to answer complicated user questions. Now more than ever, reps don’t want to leave users on hold while they search for answers. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, a recent FI service rep survey noted 43% of agents say users expect an increasingly detailed knowledge of products and services. Likely due to the ubiquity of information online, users had been asking more of their FIs. Equipping reps with resources and training to answer more sophisticated questions helps them do their jobs better and helps retain users—if their questions go unanswered or issues unresolved, 43% of all consumers will abandon a brand. Even simpler: programming a bot to field product-related questions before a live agent resolves issues gives users the best of both worlds. 

Although we’re living in a strange time, one thing remains constant: people rely on other people. Employing digital banking to do a community bank or credit union’s heavy lifting doesn’t have to replace people. Instead, digital banking can enable them on both sides of the exchange.


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