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The new model of customer experience (CX) in banking favors digital channels over traditional in-person interactions. So are bank advisors a thing of the past? Quite the opposite. Thanks to new customer experience management tools, advisors in banking services are providing more support than ever, and embodying the trust that customers expect.
Lines at the local bank are growing shorter. Today, to make a transfer or obtain a statement, a typical customer uses either the bank’s website or its mobile application. The increasing use of digital technology has facilitated self-care in banking, i.e. the possibility for customers to obtain information and carry out operations autonomously. Odigo investigates the role of bank advisors in emerging customer experience (CX) models, with a focus on French banks. Read on to learn the key takeaways.
Self-care is revolutionizing CX in banking, and mobile apps are in the forefront. In the last year 86.5% of Americans used a mobile device to check their bank balance, and in the last month 73% of smartphone users used an app to manage their finances.
The digitalization of customer experience in banking has reduced the number of physical interactions between banks and their customers, who now only visit their branch on rare occasions. According to research by McKinsey, “preference for handling everyday transactions digitally is as high as about 60 to 85 percent across Western European markets, even for customers 65 years of age or older.”
Banks have responded with varying levels of success. Research by Forrester finds “large divides separating a handful of top-scoring mutuals and direct banks from the rest of the pack across Europe.” In the US, large banks appear to just now be closing the customer satisfaction (CSAT) gap with smaller rivals. And differences in service levels between countries can be striking, as anyone who has opened a bank account in a foreign country has likely noticed. Banks across Europe and the US are trying out different approaches to achieve the rewarding digital customer experience customers want in their banking. The institutions that learn how to best leverage the strengths of their advisors in the new digital terrain will hold a firm competitive advantage.
While customers are using digital channels for their day-to-day banking operations, for detailed or complex requests (loan simulations, security concerns, billing questions) they resoundingly choose a human advisor. This preference is confirmed by Jean-Denis Paraire, Director of Remote Banking at Crédit Coopératif: “We predicted that the Internet would sweep everything away, but the personal relationship with the advisor remains crucial at key moments in the client’s journey.” Some banks are learning how to create more space for person-to-person customer experience in their banking models by leveraging automation. The digitalization of part of the customer relationship frees bank advisors from lower-value tasks and gives them more time to focus on their primary jobs: advising and assisting customers.
The growing number of CX channels in banking has also created the need for new customer interaction management (CIM) solutions that help advisors conduct seamless conversations. According to Markess, a French independent market research company, specialized in digital market analysis and corporate digital transformation strategies, CIM solutions in banking grew at a rate of 17% per year between 2016 and 2020. These tools, usually SaaS-based, will also help accommodate advisors’ potential teleworking needs in the future.
For customers, banking is anything but a trivial matter. It is a key service in which they must have confidence. By embodying the relationship between a customer and their bank, the bank advisor is the guardian of this trust. Some banks have taken steps in the right direction, for example by providing customers with direct access to their advisor: “We have set up five remote branches for customers who leave the region but wish to stay with us,” explains Natacha Schreiber, Commercial Director at Banque Populaire Alsace Lorraine Champagne, “but the advisor is at the heart of the offering. Customers have access to his or her phone number and can talk to him or her by teleconference.”
In this new banking model, the roles of the customer experience advisor and the in-branch advisor are merging, with the former handling ever more specific requests, and the latter learning to master remote contact with their customers. “Today, our customers have the choice between a physical branch or a regional e-agency, and both channels provide exactly the same service level,” says Jean-Denis Paraire.
Neobanks and Big Tech are eyeing the traditional banking market, and new models are always interesting. But it would be a dangerous mistake to compete only on a technological level. “The human relationship remains at the core of the banking business,” according to Natacha Schreiber. “The model is not radically transformed, it is evolving.”
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