As the world economy ebbs and flows with the effects of COVID-19, the financial services industry has also had to reprioritize and strategize digitalization as it adapts to this new normal.
Like many traditional industries, financial institutions are deeply rooted in in-person interaction and have been historically slower in their digital adoption.
With COVID-19 however, a gradual shift into a more digital space is no longer a luxury any business can afford.
Financial firms must adapt and respond to changes in their business models, and do so from a stance of risk management and organizational resiliency. The checklist below offers financial business leaders a step-by-step guide to doing just that.
Build from the inside out
Avoid analysis paralysis as to where to begin and start with internal considerations, like updating systems and databases inconsistencies, preparing incident management protocols, and creating a concrete system for contact tracing.
1: Establish internal consistency
One of the biggest issues in operational efficiency is siloed data due to inconsistent systems and databases. Employees often have to log into multiple systems to get the right information about a customer, process, or product.
APIs are a powerful way to integrate these systems into one single pane of glass. APIs empower companies to connect multiple databases and create a centralized UI and source of information. It also gives businesses the flexibility to integrate with existing infrastructure while designing their own interface to best support employees.
Doing so ultimately makes it easier for employees to spend less time finding data within a variety of programs and instead focus on their core responsibilities and thus, a better customer journey.
2: Prepare incident management protocol
As businesses struggled to acclimate to a new normal during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, mistakes and errors while quickly updating existing systems and infrastructures were an expected side effect of this adjustment period.
Moving forward, though, we can all be better prepared in the event of a widespread issue. Developing an incident management protocol means that companies have a system in place to notify employees, teams, and leadership to ensure quick resolution and business continuity in the face of an unexpected crisis.
When protocols or risk management practices change unexpectedly, companies need to be able to quickly iterate and implement this plan. Because of this, deliverability and a flexible platform is imperative.
3: Create a contact tracing system
As financial services firms ease their employees back into the office, business leaders must address new health and safety protocols brought on by COVID-19. Many organizations have created contact tracing systems in order to make this transition as safe and seamless as possible.
APIs empower firms to incorporate contact tracing in their new day-to-day operations by leveraging SMS capabilities. This lets businesses engage with employees each morning to check their symptoms via a quick text or app notification.
Having an API approach inhibits companies to easily integrate this system into existing employee apps or via SMS to minimize operational disruption.
Engage customers strategically
Once internal systems and protocols are in place, examine the way your organization engages with new and existing customers today, then begin to consider how you might evolve moving forward.
This could mean exploring new sales and marketing channels, updating your existing customer database, creating new, personalized customer interactions, and considering technology updates such as self-service tools and a one-stop, integrated contact center to help agents provide customers with a better, personalized experience.
4: Reconsider your omni-channel approach
As virtual customer interaction is now the priority, financial services firms must be able to provide value to their customers via their preferred channels. Not doing so risks a customer looking elsewhere for an easier, seamless (and safer!) customer journey.
In order for financial services firms to stay competitive and win wallet share, omni-channel presence is a must. That means not only should your customers be able to reach you on their preferred channels; they should also receive the same contextual responses no matter what channel they might switch to, because your system lets every channel “talk” to each other. Using a CPaaS platform enables companies to easily implement and add new channels.
5: Develop a 360 view of your customer base
Context is king. Consumers want companies to respect their privacy while also having a solid grasp of their unique individual needs. For financial institutions, this means building a profile around a customer’s historical and current transactions, interactions, and inquiries.
Building out a customer’s profile on a single powerful API-based customer engagement platform provides internal consistency and empowers employees to provide the best customer experience possible.
6: Integrate personalization into customer touchpoints
When employees are focused more on a positive customer experience and less on finding information, the next step is personalizing that experience for each individual customer. This means engaging with them using proactive, relevant information on their preferred channels.
Read more about how to take personalization to the next level by implementing conversational messaging to increase wallet share—and customer loyalty.
7: Consider self-service to improve to customer experience
Part of employing an omni-channel approach is giving customers the option of self-service. According to a recent study, 67 percent of customers prefer self-service options over speaking to a representative. In addition, self-service tools reduce response time in call centers and can increase operating efficiencies.
By using features like interactive voice response (IVR), artificial intelligence, and chat bots, customers are empowered to resolve issues at their own pace and improve customer knowledge. The best experiences are those that seamlessly transfer a customer from automated service to in-person help and back again, all while meeting their needs and expectations.
Learn more about how financial services providers are using AI-powered chatbots to up-level their customer experience here.
8: Design a one-stop contact center
As more customers call to resolve issues, thanks to stay-at-home orders and social distancing norms, it’s more important than ever that financial services firms handle inquiries quickly.
Beyond that, firms must also address the new customer service hurdle of being empathetic to individuals’ financial situations and the emotional toll COVID-19 may have taken on their wallets and lives.
Contact centers not only have the ability to quickly provide information and seamlessly manage customer accounts, they also have the power to comfort and ease consumers. They let agents respond more quickly, and with contextual information, which is invaluable at a time when long wait times—especially when it concerns sensitive information like finances—can drastically elevate stress levels.
Agents and supervisors also need to be able to access the UI remotely, and call centers provide the features and capabilities that allow them to do so safely and efficiently.
Ensure security and compliance
The fear of compromising security and compliance has led many in the financial services industry to hesitate in implementing workplace flexibility, remote work, and other digital technologies. COVID-19 has highlighted the need to increase secure home access and find flexibility in new platforms while staying compliant with existing protocols and regulations.
9: Modernize security in a remote environment
Financial services firms have had to navigate giving employees access to data and information that was once only available in office. This shift is highlighting the need for more secure access in remote work spaces. In response, firms are now applying more in-depth security systems like two-factor authentication and performing preliminary risk assessments.
10: Maintain compliance while implementing new sales and marketing channels
As financial services firms reconsider how and where they interact with their customers, they need to implement new marketing and sales channels while also staying compliant with industry standards.
Developing flexible platforms that allow firms to integrate existing infrastructure and compliance protocols while also continuing to reach new and existing customers will be imperative to growth and survival during and after COVID-19.
Through the right lens, COVID-19 is an opportunity for the financial services industry. It’s a chance for financial services firms to review risk management protocols and test existing infrastructures to demonstrate if they are flexible enough to adjust to continuously changing dynamics and consumer demands.