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Why it is Important to Build Trust in Financial Services Businesses win trust by offering not just what customers have come to expect as standard but beyond

By KT Prasad

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Successful relationships are grounded in a mutual foundation of trust, be they with our friends and family, our co-workers and colleagues, and the brands we choose to buy from. The financial services sector is no stranger to this shared belief. After all, how can customers entrust an institution with their finances, such as short and long-term savings or investments, without a certain amount of faith and loyalty? In fact, trust possibly has a greater role to play in the financial services sector than any other, simply because of customers' heightened financial and emotional investment.

Millennials Are The Future

A significant and growing customer base in India's financial services sector are millennials, who are not as risk-averse as their previous generations when it comes to exploring their investment options. Given that one in three of India's population is millennials, there is a big opportunity for brands to tap into their growing purchasing power; however, brands are facing a challenge to speaking their language — that of seamless experiences.

It's no secret that millennials are technologically savvy; the country's smartphone penetration is expected to reach 520 million by 2020, making it one of the biggest smartphone markets in the world. For millennials who are digital natives, the world of e-commerce is their new normal, and they interact with voice assistants and chatbots without hesitation or feeling the need to speak to a human agent. Businesses win their trust by offering them not just what they have come to expect as standard but beyond. We need to anticipate their needs, identify pain points, and offer tailor-made solutions before they have even realized they need it.

Enhanced customer experience is the key to building trust
To stand out in this new paradigm, brands in the financial services industry need to deliver consistent, clear and unified customer messaging across multiple channels. The importance of technology providing a glitch-free experience to boost customer engagement and brand loyalty has never been more important than now.

A well-thought-out customer experience (CX) strategy is no longer a luxury, and Indian companies in the financial services sector cannot afford to be complacent. A superior CX strategy involves 24/7 support, zero downtime, providing points of surprise or pleasure for customers, and be connected across multiple channels (otherwise known as omnichannel), among others.

In addition, gamification and the use of videos and immersive apps will make transacting as simple (and fun!) as ordering a coffee. Platforms that enables brands to integrate their customer service channels to provide that seamless experience millennials crave are just the tools that financial services companies need to create meaningful relationships. Consistent delivery then helps you build trust.

There's a lot to learn from other sectors
There are learnings for Indian financial services companies from other sectors that have harnessed the power of customer-centric strategies. Take the online travel and hospitality industry for instance, which has seen the major transformation and been a key driver (pardon the pun) of redefining what seamless customer experience is to millennials.

Every day, they will often make a range of bookings and transactions across multiple touch points. Taxis, food delivery, public transport – high volume, and often low-value transactions, yet they have the power to make them feel like the world is working in their favour or completely against it.

India's cab aggregator business Ola is a well-known example. Ola's success has been due to its focus on providing seamless omnichannel support to customers via email, phone and social media. Owing to the sheer complexity of customer care involving 300,000 phone calls and 100,000 tickets it receives every week, Ola has come to rely on an integrated platform that allows them to be flexible and scale quickly with their growing customer base. Increased automation to Ola's support system has reaped a 40 per cent boost in customer satisfaction. Its customer support teams are able to resolve 95 per cent of inquiries within an hour 95 per cent of the time.

Another example of a successful customer-centric strategy is Zomato, the popular restaurant discovery and food ordering service. Its recent subscription platform, where members get access to special deals at partner restaurants or pubs, has been a successful way to reward customer loyalty. According to Zomato, 40 per cent of its total sales is referral driven. The platform also uses an in-app chat feature for its regular services so they can have real-time conversations, and track orders. Listening to the customer, and understanding that they seek value for money is a surefire path to success.

Help me help you
Today's customers want answers, and they want them fast. In the case of Ola and Zomato, putting the power into the hands of the customer to find the information at their convenience has been a game changer. Self-service functions are the foundation that helps to shape a customer response journey.

Millennials are the driving force behind self-service platforms, preferring to find answers to their problems at the press of a button or two, rather than speak to a human - this preference reflects across sectors, from ordering groceries online to luxury retail. According to the Aspect Consumer Index's Millennial Research on Customer Service Expectations, nearly 3 out of 4 prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own, setting the stage for big changes in the consumer experience landscape.

Similarly, in order to keep up with these new self-service habits, businesses in the financial services industry need to create an ecosystem and platform that empowers a customer to help themselves, while also trusting that it is providing them with the most relevant and up-to-date information. These speedy, real-time answers to problems boost trust, and consequently, loyalty.

Some of India's biggest financial services brands are already embracing these new technologies. For example, HDFC Securities' customers are increasingly using Chat to connect with experts and make informed decisions without needed to spend lengthy times waiting for an agent over a call. The technology has also ramped up the company's sales operations. The average chats per day increased to 1,150 from 350 after implementing the new channel.

Another example is SlicePay, a financial technology start-up which offers credit to students across India to buy products like laptops and pay in monthly instalments. The start-up uses Support to handle customer support and to empower customers to use self-service. A help centre where common queries are answered in real time has boosted the startup's accountability, credibility and engagement with customers. Anecdotally, this has led to an uptick in brand loyalty.

Omnichannel, machine learning and big data — a sign of the times
An omnichannel experience with multiple touch points to complete transactions, alongside intuitive messaging and communication has already begun to reshape the contours of the financial services landscape. The focus will shift, if it has not already, from an institution-centric approach where the financial services firm is at the centre, to a customer-centric approach where the customer is at the heart of the transaction. For this to happen, businesses need big data.

Machine learning and AI, which is underpinned by a wealth of data, empowers businesses with smarter insights to learn about each customer and their habits, which can then be used to provide an enhanced customer experience.

A business that takes an omnichannel approach allows customers to get in touch with them in whichever platform they find convenient, be it a mobile app, email, chat or voice, and continue the conversation without friction. From an agent perspective, an integrated interface means seamless interactions and minimal errors. The ease of monitoring all channels from one platform is a win-win for consumers, agents and admin.

Trust is the result of an omnichannel approach to customer service, which ushers in operational simplicity, better customer experience via enhanced technology and a shattering of silos. Can you see the walls coming down already?

KT Prasad

Country Sales Director, Zendesk India

KT Prasad is the Country Sales Director for Zendesk, India. Since joining the Indian office of the San Francisco based SaaS Company in September 2016, he has been responsible for Business growth with a focus on helping customers transform their customer service into meaningful customer engagement with beautifully simple solutions.

He has a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) degree from the Karnatak University and over 20 years of management experience in some of the top companies from the software and services industry. Prior to joining Zendesk, KT was the General Manager with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise responsible for Microsoft Business Applications, Asia Pacific and Japan. He was in charge of delivering Microsoft based business applications such as Dynamics CRM and Dynamics Axapta and leading HPE’s Enterprise Cloud Solutions strategy for Microsoft applications. Prior to HPE, KT spent time with Adea, PSI Data Systems and Agilisys (formerly known as netdecisions) where he played various leadership roles.

In every role that he has held, his basic objectives have been; driving customer satisfaction, improving integration across business units and addressing the unique technology needs of customers.                                                                     


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