By Silvio Kutic, CEO, Infobip

The personal touch – the attention of individual bank tellers and financial advisors – has historically been, and still remains,the keyto how banks communicate with clients.

There’s no question that over the last two decades, clients have benefitted from a more automated experience including ATMs, telephone banking, and, most recently, mobile apps. This digital experience has created convenience, but there is research evidence to show consumer resistance to the idea of automation in their actual financial dealings – that human touch definitely is still of considerable value to bank customers.

So, customers now expect a modern, digital approach, but they still appreciate human interaction and personalisation when it comes to organisations charged with looking after their financial well-being. Research shows that three quarters of new accounts are opened in-person at a branch and in addition, customers that use in-person services at a branch are more satisfied with their overall banking experience than those who only use digital channels.

Thus, banks are very keen to retain their human touch, while also ensuring they aren’t missing out on the opportunity to reach their customers through more effective channels. They seek to find opportunities that bring the best of both worlds.

Chat apps have allowed a new era of banking communications that achieves this blend of technology and a personal touch. Both providing essential information that customers have opted in to receive and having a global presence where your customers are located using chat apps, such as the 180+ countries where WhatsApp is used,are two reasons an omni-channel approach is a sound strategy for large organisations looking to make personal connections, especially with younger demographics.

Banks need to consider how to properly make use of these platforms, helping to ensure they are reaching existing clients effectively through a trusted and understandable user experience, and also reaching new clients, looking for a more digital-first banking experience.

Customers come first 

With chat apps used as an increasingly popular channel for person-to-person communication,research into which chat app your customers are most likely to use, as well as how frequently they use it, is vital for long-term planning. Having a general understanding about customers’ lifestyle, spending preferences and emotions around brands can help make your outreach become more impactful.

Having established the right platform(s), sharing transactional banking information such as payment reminders and balance updates via messaging platforms easily makes the customer experience more convenient. It also helps integrate your institution into the consumer’s day-to-day life in a way that’s natural to them. Personalising the content and allowing the customer to opt-in to communications with your institution can further enhance the relationship and improve future engagement. The last thing you want is for a customer to block or ignore your communications, as it is might prove difficult to win their trust back.

Bespoke banking 

Understanding customer preferences and location is key when creating a tailor-made experience.With many banks operating across several countries, they must ensure they have a clear,concise message that’s consistent across all markets. Having a single omni-channel provider with deep knowledge about all of the locations where you operate ensures that messaging remains consistent and dialogue and format are optimised for use within these localities, especially important when it comes to answering inbound customer inquiries via chat apps.

It helps if your provider also has local contacts for any last-minute adjustments – or in the event of a local crisis – to provide the insight required to respond appropriately.

A best-in-class omni-channel provider naturally employs multiple communication apps, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp,matching market demand for these apps. That way, they can tailor your outreach in accordance with popular local preferences. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber are highly popular, but each has its strengths and weaknesses in different markets. It would be mistaken to imagine that what works in one particular market will be equally successful worldwide. Local market knowledge is vital for creating a bespoke experience.

Richer media

While transactional communications are an easy first step for banks to kick-off working with chat apps, many chat apps offer the opportunity for added engagement by allowing you to share media content, images and files.For example, omni-channel companies actively using the WhatsApp Business platform allow for financial institutions to take advantage of these broader capabilities via WhatsApp, thus creating additional options for banks. Exploring these messaging capabilities presents an opportunity for banks to elevate their communication, sending documents directly to customers, for example, and providing greater information security by providing a direct, encrypted channel for documents to be sent from banks to customers. Taking advantage of this will help your communication stand out from the competition and differentiate your customer experience.

Bringing together in-person and digital experience is crucial to the continued success of the banking industry. Banks need to engage customers through effective digital communication without forgetting that a personal touch is still key. Ultimately, they will need to talk to their customers on the platforms they use and provide those customers with the information they want, when they want it.

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