The dawn of the digital revolution

We are in an age where technology is ever more ubiquitous. Smart phones and tablets have changed the way we think, act and behave.

Swedish philosopher, Nick Bostrom once said “We might define a technological revolution as a dramatic change brought about relatively quickly by the introduction of some new technology.”, writes Fabrice De Windt.

We are in an age where technology is ever more ubiquitous.  Smart phones and tablets in particular have changed the way we think, act and behave within a relatively short time period.  So you could say that a digital revolution is taking place. 

That revolution is particularly evident in the financial services industry, where we are seeing a change in the way that people deal with their financial service providers: the adoption of digital channels is accelerating and the boundaries of how and when we communicate with our bank are shifting.  Digital people are demanding digital banks. 

According to BT and Avaya’s recent survey of 2,000 banking customers, the number of channels used by consumers to contact their bank has increased by 44 per cent in the UK. It’s a growth that’s been driven by customers using new ways — mobile banking, branch self-service machines, webchat and social media — to talk to their bank.

This is also true of continental Europe. In France, effective two-way communication is vital in developing good customer relationships, 39 per cent of consumers often change the way they contact their financial services provider depending on their situation. And, in Spain 26 per cent of consumers, compared to 16 per cent in the UK, tend to use mobile banking apps more often than Internet self-service. 20 per cent use apps on their mobile phones, which link to location based services. France has only 7 per cent consumer uptake of similar apps. Also, in Spain 24 per cent would like to use their smartphone’s banking app when in their bank branch.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed. Banks and insurance companies are responding to this in a big way, altering their strategies to suit the tech-savvy population.

Financial services need to meet customer expectations at two levels: firstly by making sure that every day interactions are fast and simple, and secondly by creating content that’s going to help them make the right decision.

For customers, their journey usually starts by researching products and services and ends with a face-to-face conversation at the point of sale. So, as the financial industry introduces more channels to their offering, they need to make sure that their customers can move seamlessly from one to the other.

The popularity of webchat and video is growing, with 55 per cent of UK consumers using webchat to interact with organisations. While only 41 per cent are confident sharing their personal data this way in the UK, the benefits are clear to consumers who value the ability to record their conversation with an advisor and view information on-screen. Consumers in France are more sophisticated in their use of supported self-service than the UK and Spain, 40 per cent would rather use web-chat than FAQs, but to date only 13 per cent of French consumers have used web-chat with their bank.

Increasingly, customers are moving from web-chat to video in their personal lives, so there is potential for banks to use this channel to develop a greater level of understanding and trust, while offering an immediate and personalised service.

It is clear that now is the time for banks to use omni-channel strategies to engage with their customers. The branch is just one part of what should be seen as a multichannel customer offering, blending seamlessly with mobile, online, social media and contact centres. 

The key is this is innovation. The right technology, such as in branch Wi-Fi, remote experts, and personalized video can help retail branches become more customer focused and agile while reducing operational costs and integrating the various channels to create a seamless experience for customers. To achieve this, banks will need to look to innovative technology providers to introduce creative solutions to deliver a better, more seamless service to their customers.

There is no doubt that technology will continue to revolutionise our everyday life.  And in a world where people are becoming ever more empowered about their own financial management, banks and financial services providers need to focus on making everyday interactions fast and simple and creating content, insight and answers that help customers make the right decisions. 

Today’s connected world offers unlimited possibilities for financial services providers to make creative connections leading to great business outcomes. It really is the dawn of the digital revolution.