by Robert Wolverton –
The novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, will change forever the way financial services businesses interact with their customer, including when, where, how, and by whom.
Customers are rapidly learning new tools to work and interact in a virtually connected world to interact with family, colleagues, and service providers while observing social distancing. Much like grocery stores, financial services businesses with face-to-face operations will be paying more attention to their facilities’ preparedness and looking for ways to deliver services to customers while keeping them and their associates safe.
At RCG, we enable people to connect and work more efficiently by developing web and mobile applications. We also help our clients make better business decisions by creating capabilities that leverage analytics, visualization, and modeling. While these things may seem unimportant during the height of the pandemic, their importance increases exponentially as the world comes to grips with a new way of working. In the past, web, and mobile tended to be one of the interaction points in an omnichannel engagement model. In the wake of COVID-19, as face-to-face interactions shrink, web and mobile capabilities come front and center.
The following are areas we currently are and will be working with our customers and partners in financial services to ensure that we are giving them the best opportunity to adjust to living in the new reality.
Virtual Advisor Visits
It does not take a crystal ball to see that the new coronavirus will increase the demand for remote person-to-person interactions exponentially. Paired with improved mobile capability, virtual visits will play a key role in serving customers while keeping them physically at home. This is not just for people with COVID-19 symptoms but is equally important for any other similar illnesses that may occur in the future.
Virtual visits will grow rapidly as early adopters discover the convenience and efficiency with no drive to a physical location and no lines. The next few months will broaden acceptance and adoption throughout the population. Any financial services business that does not create or expand their virtual visit capabilities is at risk for losing customers – or worse, exposing them to coronavirus or other infectious agents unnecessarily.
Mobile Customer Apps
As a complementary technology with virtual visits, mobile apps for financial services, customers will likewise see an abrupt increase in acceptance and usage. Equally important, consumers will look at the mobile leaders and best consumer apps on their phones and apply those expectations to their financial services encounters. At the very least, every financial services business should have a single customer app that offers all the following functions.
- Interactive directory of person-to-person service offerings with filters on specialty, language, and availability.
- Dynamic scheduling with accurate and updated virtual advisor availability. This should include a real-time waitlist with automated alerts when a virtual advisor has an opening.
- Demand management with two-way messaging to ensure customers spend as little time waiting as possible.
- Bot based “How can we help?” with recommendations for common self-service and virtual advisor assisted services.
- Global and targeted alerts, notifications, and splash-screens for communication in the face of major incidents.
- And of course, embedded Virtual Visits. The “How can we help?” component might connect seamlessly to the right virtual advisor based on the customer’s needs and their relationship with the business.
In every financial services organization today, the top priority should be supporting and servicing customer needs while keeping your employees safe in the face of health challenges like COVID-19. But there are several things a well-designed employee app can do to help. These include:
- Allowing both management and staff to quickly adjust schedules as necessary to react to conditions on the business front as well as within personal or family situations.
- Communication and Training. Never needs direct and rapid communication throughout a system been so self-evident. Similarly, as new operational processes and personal protection and treatment protocols are introduced, employees should have a secure way to receive and confirm their understanding of the new information.
- And nearly every function of the customer app mentioned above, adjusted or enhanced for the appropriate employee audience. For instance, a virtual advisor scheduler creates and confirms open appointments and a one-click option for secure communication.
Demand / Resource Management
While operational efficiency is always important in business settings, a system at or near capacity must use every tool available to ensure personnel is allocated in a way that maximizes the benefit offered to customers. On the other side of the equation, the demand can also be managed to at least some degree, “triaging” customers and directing them to virtual advisors or services where capacity exists. The customer and employee mobile apps mentioned above can help meet customer demand in real-time by alerting advisors when a need arises. It can also enable an organization to extend service hours beyond the traditional hours that are associated with brick-and-mortar locations. Data captured through interactions within the mobile apps can be used to develop algorithms that predict when demand will spike and enable flexible work arrangements to meet these customer needs.
The world is different now than it was a month ago.
It will be different still a month or six months or two years from now. We cannot predict with certainty all the changes that will take place. Financial services organizations will need to use technology to build mobile apps that enable virtual advisor visits, community engagement, and resource demand management.
RCG is stepping up our engagement with our financial services clients to provide guidance and skill in these areas, including traditional and cloud infrastructure and architecture, web and mobile app design and development, data integration, and data management and support.