The uncertainty created by COVID-19 has sent ripples through the world economy. The financial services industry has been impacted in major and unexpected ways, and has forced industry leaders and company decision makers to rapidly adapt, respond, and evolve to meet the demands of an unpredictable and rapidly morphing crisis.
To better understand how leaders across all industries are facing this new challenge, Twilio surveyed more than 2,500 enterprise decision makers in the US, UK, Germany, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Singapore about how COVID-19 is impacting their digital engagement strategies.
Let’s look deeper at how this global pandemic is affecting the digital communication strategies of financial services, focusing on some key areas:
Almost all companies are looking for new ways of engaging customers and stakeholders as a result of COVID-19; 60 percent of financial services companies say the pandemic sped up their digital transformation a great deal.
COVID-19 has broken down barriers to digital transformation, and in the finance industry, getting engineering support in particular became easier due to COVID-19.
Financial services companies were some of the most likely to add many new channels to support customers during and after COVID-19; among them were live chat, video communications, web-based chatbots, email, and in-app chatting.
The vast majority of financial services respondents said transforming their organization's digital communications is very or extremely critical to address the business challenges of COVID-19. In practice, financial services organizations adopted an average of four net-new channels of engagement.
The pandemic has had a profound financial impact on the world economy, and individual consumers are feeling the pain. The resulting anxiety means customers urgently want guidance, assurance, and real-time responses to their pressing questions.
It’s unsurprising, then, that live chat was chosen by 54 percent of financial services respondents as the new channel they adopted due to COVID-19.
In the wake of COVID-19, ensuring business continuity means decade-long digital transformation roadmaps get compressed to just weeks, and even days. The accelerating effects of COVID-19 are undeniable: 95 percent of financial services respondents agree the coronavirus hastened their organization's digital communication transformation effort. And further, our research found that digital communications strategy schedules accelerated by an average of nearly six years.
Even for an industry as heavily regulated as financial services, the urgent need for real-time, omnichannel communication and services broke down traditional barriers to digital transformation: 42 percent of financial services respondents said COVID-19 helped break down the common “lack of engineering” support barrier to driving innovation, and a further 40 percent said COVID-19 helped break down a reluctance to replace legacy software.
It’s clear customer-facing innovations born out of COVID-19 will outlast containment of the virus—94 percent of financial services respondents said it’s very or somewhat likely they’ll expand their communication channels even as the world reopens.
It’s also clear that COVID-19-related investments in enabling remote work will open up future opportunities for remote work; 99 percent of respondents said so. Nearly one in five respondents within finance said their organization used remote contact centers for the first time as a result of COVID-19.
Digital finance disruptor Cover is a perfect example: the mobile-first national insurance brokerage has a cloud-based contact center built with application programming interfaces (APIs) for maximum flexibility, so Cover can roll out any change it wants and deploy it instantly. Read more about it.
Now, more than ever, consumers are looking to their banks and other financial service providers for a sense of assurance, trust, and help. Scaling personalized service and communications requires intelligent self-service via AI-powered interactive voice response (IVR) and chatbots. Yet, three out of four financial services providers agreed they are not prepared to implement AI in their operations.
Chime is an example of a relative newcomer to the financial services industry whose digital-first approach prepared them well. The online bank combines SMS, an AI-powered chatbot, and an IVR solution that integrates with its existing CRM to automatically authenticate customers as soon as they call.
For financial services providers who rely on on-premise systems and in-person interactions as the basis of their business, COVID-19 is a stark wakeup call. To adapt and thrive during this crisis and through unknown risks ahead, the resiliency of an organization’s customer engagement platform will be key.
Looking ahead, as a result of COVID-19, 95 percent of respondents expect their organization to find new ways of engaging customers and other stakeholders. And to that end, 77 percent report that their organization’s budgets for digital transformation have increased.
See the full survey results here.