Why Branches must close the gaps in the CX Strategy

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Today’s customers expect omnichannel experiences requiring branch networks to provide seamless access to information, services, and trusted experts wherever and whenever they engage. Yet as banks accelerated their digital transformation last year, many discovered gaps in their online strategy and inefficient customer interactions in the absence of physical branches.

TimeTrade SiverCloud recently presented at Future Branches the best practices for breaking down silos to deliver exceptional customer experiences across all channels – self-service (digital), contact centers (phone, live chat), or specialized “expert” interactions (in-person, video or phone) – so that banks can continue to deliver the human touch in a socially distanced world.

You can watch the presentation on demand here. But if you’re looking for the key takeaways, this blog post will break down three actions you can to take now.

Customer Expectations: Access to information Anytime and Anywhere

We live in an on-demand world where we expect access to information and answers whenever and wherever we are. From ordering groceries, shopping, finding our next show to binge, to Googling obscure stats – we expect everything at our fingertips. And that works for most things – but what about when we need human expertise, help, and assistance? For industries like financial services, where human interaction is a large part of the experience, finding that right balance of self-service and human assistance is critical to improving the customer experience.

In the beginning of the pandemic, customers were willing to be patient and expectations were much lower. But as we approach the one-year mark, they expect that your business has adjusted.   In a commoditized industry like banking that differentiates on service, how do you break down the silos to ensure whatever time or whatever channel your customers chose, they can get the experience (support, service, and assistance) they need?

Break Down the Service Silos Across Channels

Delivering the omnichannel experience requires seamless access to information, services, and trusted experts wherever and whenever they engage.  That starts with the following best practices:

Self-service: Are you surrounding your customers with access to information?
Usage of mobile & online banking and banking websites has exploded in the last 10 months. Consumers were forced to switch to digital virtually overnight and now have grown accustomed to it. Today, your mobile and online banking applications are an extension of your branch, and therefore used for more than just transactions. We expect to find to information and answers to all aspects of banking – from basic service (what is your routing number), to more complicated technology questions (how do I setup bill pay), to product questions (what are your rates) – all from your digital channels. Self-service is no longer a nice to have – it is a must have in your customer experience strategy.

Best practices:

  • Surround your customers with access: use search, contextual FAQs, and chatbots. Search is still king with over 60% of usage, but chatbot usage has grown from over 20% in the beginning of 2020 to almost 32% by the end of 2020.
  • Deliver across channel: this includes your website, but also your mobile and online banking platforms. As mobile and online banking usage has increased, so has usage of self-service answers.
  • Make it actionable with proactive answers: don’t just answer the question but anticipate why they asked and what they want to do next. Embed links to the next step (Apply Online, Schedule an Appointment), provide multimedia tutorials that walk them through how to use digital banking (reset password, make a transfer, setup bill pay), and link to relevant content (routing number – setting up direct deposit, how to make a transfer etc)

Benefits:

  • Reduced call volumes
  • Improved customer experience
  • Higher conversion rates of deposit and lending products

Appointment Scheduling: Are you connecting your customer with the right resource at the right time – in-person, via phone or web conference?

As branches have been forced to close, limit hours / number of customers at a time, and utilize appointment only, appointment scheduling has become a necessity for financial institutions.  From product questions and financial consulting to lost or stolen cards, to other service needs like notary services or loan processing, your customers need your staff’s help. With appointment scheduling, you can allow your customers to select the day / time that works for them and ensure they are meeting with the right person. It provides the convenience and experience your customers expect, while ensuring you have the right staffing levels for any given day. Intelligent appointment scheduling ensures your customers are getting the service and experience they expect.

Best practices:

  • Surround your customers with access: display Schedule an Appointment boldly and prominently on your website as well as a call to action on key pages on your website.
  • Deliver across channel: remember your customers view your mobile and online banking applications as an extension of your branch – remove the friction and provide access directly from your mobile and online banking.

Benefits:

  • Increased deposit and loan opportunities
  • Greater operational efficiencies
  • Improved net promoter scores

Knowledge Management: Are you empowering your frontline staff?

As consumers, we expect that when we do reach out, we are talking to experts that can quickly and efficiently solve our problems. And yet when we talk to financial institutions one of the top challenges is knowledge management. Information is siloed, inconsistent, or just missing altogether. Different branches and department have their own processes, own documentation. The result – an inconsistent customer experience that usually involves long wait times and transferring customers from person to person. Ensuring your frontline staff, whether they are on the phone, live or video chat, or in person has the information they need is the last line of defense to ensure a great experience.

Best practices:

  • Create a single source of truth:  centralize your policies and procedures into a centralized repository that makes information easy to find and follow.
  • Keep it accurate and consistent: enlist your subject matter experts for content and accuracy and assigning a person or team responsible for making the updates.
  • Leverage employee feedback: empower your frontline staff with the tools to provide feedback. Your knowledge base will only be as good as the feedback your frontline staff gives you.

Benefits:

  • Improved employee confidence
  • Increased employee efficiency
  • Higher customer satisfaction

There’s much more to discover in the full presentation, including results you can achieve by humanizing experiences across all channels.

You may also be interested in: Meeting Customer Demands: Retail Banking Lessons Learned to see how omnichannel appointment scheduling has become a critical factor to modernize, drive rapid ROI and deliver remarkable service. Plus, the 3 Trends Financial Institutions Can’t Ignore in 2021 to learn 3 trends that will help credit unions and banks achieve the winning balance of digital + human in 2021 and beyond.

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Written by DJ Haskins

DJ Haskins is the VP of Marketing at SilverCloud, Inc., a banking-specific SaaS company that specializes in helping banks and credit unions deliver better support via their digital and employee channels. DJ specializes in customer experience, brand strategy and demand generation. Prior to joining SilverCloud, DJ owned and ran multiple marketing agencies for 15+ years. He is also a professor at the University of New Hampshire where he teaches Digital Marketing.

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