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Overcoming Digital Disconnect a Key in Crafting a Delightful Customer Journey A bad experience may result from any of the three, or a combination thereof

By Virender Jeet

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Banks have invested heavily in building their digital capabilities. They continue to put significant effort in operationalizing their digital initiatives. However, they might discover, the hard way, that their best customers are unsatisfied with their journey.

Is it because banking customers and credit union members do not prefer digital channels? No. Customers do prefer digital interactions provided they deliver a great experience. According to research conducted by Javelin Strategy2, as many as 70per cent of Checking Account Applicants, and 80per cent of Credit Card Applicants would prefer digital channels to traditional methods.

Then Where Does the Problem Lie?

A customer's journey is the sum of all the interactions with a financial institution; more the touchpoints, more is the need for managing the customer's experience. Therefore, when banks add more channels to address customer experience, they end up ruining it. This is so because additional best-of-breed technology implementations add more silos to an already disjointed financial institution. This is where the digital disconnect becomes apparent.

The Digital Disconnect

What differentiates a great customer experience from a bad one is the disconnect between the service provider and its customers. The digital disconnect between financial institutions and their customers manifests in three ways – the process disconnect, the human disconnect and, the physical disconnect.

A bad experience may result from any of the three, or a combination thereof. No amount of fresh mapping of customer journeys can address the underlying systemic issues that ail most banks today: "the disconnect'. And, no amount of digitization and "mobile appification' can help overcome the underlying disjoint in banks.

  1. The Process Disconnect

Financial institutions often equate digital to building mobile, web and social interfaces, even though the underlying processes remain broken. And thus, the customer experience ends up becoming even more fragmented with these additional mutually disconnected touchpoints.

2. The Human Disconnect

Most customers expect personal treatment. Banks, in the quest of becoming more digital, end up treating banking services as strictly transactional and fail to develop a human connect.

3. The Physical Disconnect

Even though most products and services offered by banks are intangibles (i.e. they are not physical goods), customers still prefer a physical presence in form of a branch or an ATM or a kiosk for psychological reasons of trust and dependability.

4 Foundations of a Delightful Customer Journey

To overcome the digital disconnect, banks need to craft a highly rewarding and delightful customer journey. There are four foundations on which this journey is built:

  1. Creating a Rewarding Process Experience

Modern customers use multiple devices and channels to interact with their financial institutions. These interactions may be web-based, via a mobile app, in person, a social media channel, or something else. It gets complex to map a buyer's persona because the same customer may don a different persona depending on the product they use. For example, a customer that shows risk-averse behaviour on their credit card account may end up applying for a loan that may look risk-prone.

Even in the case of corporate loans, decision-making eventually comes down to individuals, and they expect seamless experiences. Banks need to build robust underlying processes that deliver great service quality to their customers – making the customer journey rewarding.

2. Ensuring Straight-through Processing

Whether it is on-boarding or servicing, customers expect speed and responsiveness. Responsiveness, here, doesn't mean an automated template response with a deferred resolution that many banks resort to today. Responsiveness needs to include the intended outcome from a customer's point of view.

While automated responses create an illusion of speed, straight-through process automation provides financial institutions speed with the outcome. Additionally, banks need to tie in front-end channels (mobility, web, and front-office) with back-end processes to enable omnichannel and cross-channel experience without breaks.

3. Building Contextual Engagement

Performing a know-your-customer process for compliance and fraud prevention, and actually "knowing your customers" are two different things. Banks collect a lot of information about their prospects and customers.

However, this information is either inconsistently collected and maintained, or inadequately used. By capturing information in digital form right at the source, financial institutions can achieve better control, traceability, retrievability, and archival. More importantly, these data points and documents need to be attached to a specific credit opportunity or customer, for a seamless process level control and access.

4. Unifying Banking Processes

Customers do not transact or interact with individual departments. They interact with the bank as a whole and do not like being tossed between departments in their journey. They expect a connected and unified banking experience across products and services. Silos are a bane to the customer journey.

Banks need a platform that can unify operations and address the three silos we talked about, without adding further rigidity to their processes. They need a platform that ties in process, content, and other core or transactional applications together to provide a consistent and unified experience to their customers.

Visualizing the Right Technology

Banks need the right technology that helps them craft a delightful customer journey for their customers. They need a technology that offers a multichannel experience to customers with interactive components such as chatbots. The right technology does not only add speed via straight-through processing but also extends a deeply personalized customer experience using analytics to segment customer behaviour.

All these factors, when combined in technology, help your bank or credit union shape a delightful customer journey. So that your customers don't shy away from contacting you, and their next not-so-great interaction experience does not become the last straw before they switch their loyalty. After all, they have a choice.

Virender Jeet

Sr. VP Technology, Newgen Software

Virender Jeet is the senior Vice-president, technology, at Newgen Software. 
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