Survey after survey tells us that customers continue to value their experience at the branch. Perhaps it is because humans reassure them. A handshake, a frank conversation about the future, the eye contact, a personal story – these are exchanges that build trust and relationships.
However, people aren’t visiting branches very often. According to some estimates, customers expect more than two-thirds of their banking usage to be digital in the next year. Yet, for all the convenience and efficiency of digital banking, customers are telling us something is still missing.
As outlined in Unblu’s white paper “Beyond Bots,” technology has proven to be only half of the equation. In our rush to digitally transform, it seems we’ve tried to automate the human rather than humanize technology.
Throughout the last decade, banks generally focused on technology as a means to drive efficiency rather than a tool to connect with the customer personally. As a result, the lack of human contact in the self-service space has resulted in some challenging gaps in support. Customers can be left stranded in the middle of an online transaction without a pathway to human help. Or those who complete a loan application online can go into a branch to finalize the process only to be told there’s no record of their application. These scenarios can be easily resolved with conversation.
Bot conversations aren’t the only solution
The financial industry tends to narrowly define conversational banking as chatbot interactions for getting help, discussing finances or even asking for advice. However, bots have limited capabilities for the time being and for the foreseeable future. Moreover, a helpful conversation is built on content and context, for which you need humans. We believe that conversational banking is most meaningful when it is an exchange between two people that is augmented by technology to create a truly personal customer experience.
A hybrid approach to conversational banking
When conversational banking is well implemented, you can truly be present for your customers. When they want to text you a quick question, you can text back securely and in a compliant way. When they need financial advice and want to look you in the eye, you can create the same branch visit experience using video and co-browsing features. These interactions should happen within a secure conversation space — asynchronously and naturally — seamlessly building on one another so they can fit into the daily life of a customer.
A hybrid conversational approach is more effective because it reflects the way customers incorporate banking into their lives. Banking is not a single action; it can’t be completely carried out on mobile, by video or in person. The customer journey consists of all of these touchpoints and actions, requiring both high tech and high touch. A conversational interface pulls these experiences together, bridging the digital gap with human expertise and delivering the personal touch and hybrid experience that customers want. When it’s properly calibrated for human interaction, conversational banking points the way forward for a more supportive, trusting relationship with customers.
A valuable conversation opens the door to opportunities and builds relationships. Each and every conversation is an opportunity to get to know your customers, be helpful and, ultimately, guide them through their financial decisions. Find out how online conversations open the door to cost savings, more transactions and stronger relationships.
Luc Haldimann is the CEO of Unblu, a collaboration and engagement software provider that is helping banks dramatically improve the digital customer experience and transform the future of banking.