Banking customers are increasingly going digital. Take a look at these numbers: in 2012, 27% of respondents to a PwC survey said they interact with their bank through digital-only channels. By 2017, that same survey showed the number had nearly doubled to 46%.
As customers increasingly go digital, banks that fail to adapt will see their market share decrease until they go out of business entirely. While it may seem obvious that customer support departments must be a huge part of that pivot, the omni-channel revolution is happening so quickly and causing constant change, that it’s hard to know exactly what that should look like.
In the broadest sense, the answer is very simple. Digital customers want digital customer service. But what does that mean? Given the pace and rate of change, can traditional banks — often large and complex institutions — even hope to keep up?
The answer is yes. But banks must be willing to adapt. In other words, they need to keep their eyes wide open about the needs and expectations of the new digital customer.
Offer Service at the Speed of the Customer
The omni-channel revolution starts with speed. Digital customers want customer service to respond to their questions as quickly as possible, across all channels.
And every second truly counts. Incredibly, research has shown that even a single second of lag when a web page is loading can lower customer satisfaction rates by 16%. Banks must pull on resources to ensure that digital infrastructure (such as websites and mobile applications) is routinely updated to the latest standards.
The transition between digital channels must also be quick and seamless. The idea of crafting journeys and not touchpoints is critical for success. Customers should be given the functionality they need on their mobile app, have the ability to ask questions via social digital channels in an instant, then ask a question over email and receive a response quickly.
If a single link in the chain breaks, the whole machine is broken.
The Smartphone is King
Speed is important everywhere. But in the list of omni-channel solutions, the smartphone is the most significant. Research shows that an amazing 82% of 18-24-year-olds have banked via their mobile phone. Moreover, 60% of all mobile users report the same.
In a climate like this, there’s simply no excuse for not having a strategy that optimizes everything about customer support for mobile. This is especially true for self-help knowledge bases where customers go for quick answers to problems. Ensuring these channels are not only present but optimized for mobile is critical to their perception as useful by customers.
Cultivate Crowdsourced Customer Support Channels
Getting self-help customer support channels right is critical, but it’s also one of the most difficult challenges for banks. The reason is institutional memory. Banks have decades of experience providing direct customer service between CS agents and the customer — and they’re good at it.
But that’s not how today’s digital customer thinks about the role of CS. While they still want the option to speak with a representative — one survey showed that as many as 45% of bank customers still went to a branch in 2015 — in many ways, they value the feedback they receive through channels such as social media and community forums even more. Proper management of crowdsourced self-support channels are a must in this environment.
The data behind effective social media CS management are well known. But fostering community at home through careful design and management in comments sections and message boards is also crucial. Customers now go looking for digital word-of-mouth about questions and problems they face — and banks must be ready and able to help (and to manage the message).
A Brave New World of Customer Success
For banks, handling the all-digital customer begins with the understanding that things have changed. The traditional approaches no longer work. While it’s true that customers still want the option to speak to a live person, those channels are decreasing in importance almost by the day.
They’re being replaced by a digital customer who expects not only support from bank representatives, but also access to the information they want, exactly when they want it. An important part of that equation is the ability to interact with customers and prospective customers immediately and in real time.
The bottom line is, banks that take this new expectation seriously and cultivate self-support channels like social and community forums will be able to provide the experiences these customers want.