Financial Services and the omni-channel experience in 2021

Providing the omnichannel customer experience

It’s widely acknowledged that the recent pandemic has propelled organisations in every industry to re-evaluate how they do business, accelerating homeworking to become the norm. Companies in all industries have had to redesign systems, working processes and front-end applications to manage customer interactions and keep up with the demand for omnichannel service.

For financial services companies in particular, rapid action was needed to enable customers to ‘self-serve’ for queries, at the same time setting up customer service agents to be operational in secure homeworking environments.

A highly regulated environment presents extra challenges

There is no doubt that this has presented some challenges for an industry that operates in a highly regulated environment. At Xpedition we conducted a recent survey that highlighted a key challenge for 72% of financial services companies is ensuring that systems are safe and compliant, and that data is available for audits. Many also cited that this affects their customer onboarding processes.[i]

This increased need to reach customers on different channels and devices has led many companies (across all aspects of finance, including retail banking, insurance and pensions) to adopt omnichannel communications. Going digital can make a significant difference to customers. Overall service levels can be improved with reduced wait time and faster resolution. Companies can meet the new demand from clients that prefer to use new channels such as online chat or messaging apps to contact them.

With successful practices in place, it is a logical next step to consider how these could further support a customer engagement strategy.

Improving the customer experience

Our survey supported this view, with 57% of respondents saying that that they would consider personalised and automated marketing in their customer interactions. However, implementation is still relatively low. AI (in the form of chatbots) is currently used by only a third of those surveyed – but would be considered by over half as a next step.

It is clear that technology has a critical part to play in helping to define and implement new customer engagement strategies. The key to success is to have accessible data that presents a single view of the customer and that is captured at every touchpoint.

Such information can be interrogated and analysed to create highly targeted services and products for customers, delivered through their preferred communication channel. Integrating innovative automated and AI technologies can help to deliver personalised communications and improve the customer experience.

The challenge for many financial services companies comes back to legacy systems and the lack of flexibility that they offer. Residing in-house, these may also present security risks, are costly to maintain and while critical to the business, often do not provide the data required or reporting agility to make informed business decisions.

Operational resilience is mandatory for success

In addition, the BoE, PRA and FCA’s recent rules and guidelines as to how firms approach their operational resilience must be considered. Mandated by 31 March 2022[ii], financial firms must have identified their important business services, set ‘impact tolerances’ for maximum disruption and carried out advance mapping and testing.

Incorporating this operational resilience in the business strategy increases the necessity for firms to prioritise their investments in technology. To achieve this and to start planning for a customer engagement strategy, the key is to understand the desired endpoint and build a roadmap to achieve it.

This may entail a full review of the business services provided, mapping the existing technology, weaknesses and gaps. Creating a digital transformation plan for best practice in the short – and long term – can help to identify which solutions can ‘plug in’ to support different service requirements. Choosing intelligent cloud-based systems can be a first step to address these areas. Even for the most cautious, adopting a modular approach to new business applications in this way can strengthen operational resilience and minimise risk. And provide the flexibility to open up the path to wider transformation in the future.

[i]   2021 Survey conducted by FStech and Xpedition of financial services decision makers to assess the role of innovative technologies and cloud-based solutions in the digital transformation of financial services.

[ii] PS21/3 Building Operational Resilience: Feedback to CP19/32 and final rules