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Banking on good customer service?

May 13, 2014 • Opinion

Peter Flanagan, Genesys Regional Director: Southern & Eastern Africa

Peter Flanagan, Genesys Regional Director: Southern & Eastern Africa

The future of customer service is to bridge the gap between the smart consumer with the smartphone and the bank holding his or her financial assets. Even though mobile applications are becoming increasingly powerful customer touch points, many banks are failing to leverage them in order to engage with consumers. Peter Flanagan, Genesys Regional Director: Southern & Eastern Africa looks at how banks can maintain and strengthen the customer relationship in the mobile channel.

From digital wallets to mobile payments, the way consumers manage their money is changing. But for banks, it cannot be just about how consumers pay – it has to be about ensuring that the increasingly tech-savvy consumer who uses a variety of sophisticated communications tools in their everyday lives, can communicate with their bank through their chosen channel – whether for advice, difficulties, new services, or a payment transfer!

All the statistics show that mobile is becoming the primary banking interaction channel. However, for banks trying to deliver a full mobile capability this presents a real challenge. They need to shift their focus to mobile engagement in terms of service delivery, and compete to retain the customer relationship in order to maintain customer satisfaction.

There are three key developments in mobile banking driving change.

Mobile wallets on-the-go
Retail banks can fully exploit mobile banking by offering segmented consumer experiences and advanced digital wallet capabilities. A “mobile wallet” allows consumers to store and manage their credit, debit, prepaid and gift cards on their mobile device. It has been designed to help consumers shop faster online, aggregating all of their cards under one account and sparing them the hassle of entering billing information.

Instead of carrying around numerous cards, consumers will be able to use virtual “cards” on their phone to make point-of-sale purchases. They can swipe their phone or tap the screen a few times, and a payment can be easily made.

Mobile is certainly a key touch point with the consumer.

Loyalty – stay or move?
Research has shown that if customer service is bad at one bank, consumers will jump ship much more quickly to another bank. And now it will be even easier than ever to do so.

In September last year, the UK Government announced it had invested in an IT system that allows banks to speed up the time it takes to shift current accounts between banks. As a result, during September, campaigning from the banking industry had ramped up in order to encourage customers to switch bank accounts. This was designed to make banks offer a better service to their customers.

But to encourage customers to shift banks by offering more products and services – one of which could be mobile capabilities – ignores the real dilemma. If the customer service is right, customers will stay rather than move.

Most customers are just looking for their problems to be solved, and so banks must develop their customer engagement strategies – to spend as much on keeping a customer as wooing a new one.

Mobile Customer Service Apps – the customer’s in the driving seat!
Barclays’ mobile peer to peer payments app Pingit reported significant success last year with around 700-800k regular users. This just shows that consumers are certainly present on mobile, and therefore must be addressed via this channel in customer service.

As the proliferation of smartphones and mobile applications accelerates, these technologies have become increasingly powerful customer touch points. Consumers are now more informed and empowered with product, service and information choices that are available at the touch of a button.

The consumer must be given more control over where, when and how they engage with an organisation. Transactions must execute in real-time and provide the user immediate feedback with minimal intrusion to their daily lives. Customised self-service becomes the model that users demand and organisations must adapt to.

Effective mobile customer care requires a seamless transition between self-service applications and live assistance. So banks need to raise the bar on personalisation and deliver a customer experience that is increasingly determined by the customer – when they want service, where, and over what channel.

Customer Journey – still a rocky road
Mobile requires simplicity and innovation. The features need to reflect what customers need, enabling them to undertake relevant transactions on the move, and helping the customer when they need to go to another channel.

From a customer service perspective, for many organisations this remains disconnected from mobile applications. When live assistance is required, customers must exit the mobile application and call the contact centre number provided. As a result, customers must then start from the beginning: wait on hold, re-authenticate themselves, navigate complex phone menus and explain what they were trying to accomplish, when they are eventually connected to a customer service representative.

The mobile solution needs to be able to support the customer journey, whether it is one that can be completed via mobile, or one that is integrated across multiple channels.

Mobile banking is changing how customers manage and transact their money and it’s having a significant impact on customer experience. Banks are beginning to recognise this but with the new measures coming into place to encourage consumers to switch bank accounts, banks are going to have a lot to do if they are to fend off multiple competitors in this very competitive market space.

By Peter Flanagan, Genesys Regional Director: Southern & Eastern Africa

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