As customer expectations continue to soar in financial services, it is digital disruptors who are leading the way.
Taking a deep dive into how data and digital are being used to augment customer centricity, Unblu were delighted to host the recent webinar “How to communicate with clients in a digital world” in partnership with FTAdviser. As Unblu’s representative and COO, I had the privilege of exchanging perspectives with some experts in the financial services space, ranging from emergent to established players in banking.
On the contemporary end of the panel, Michael Sherwood joined us from Atom Bank, the UK’s first app-only lending bank with a full regulatory license. Launched in 2016, Atom Bank’s current offering covers mortgages, savings accounts and secured loans for small businesses, having fast become a pioneer in digital client communication.
A contrasting standpoint was on display from panelists Chris Loake, CTOO at C. Hoare & Co, and Tara Palmer, COO at Kleinwort Hambros. With both institutions having extensive histories in financial services for higher net worth, they contributed valuable insights on digital adaptation and maximizing value for a pre-existing client base.
In a stimulating discussion mediated by FTAdviser Deputy Editor Damian Fantato, we covered a range of challenges and opportunities brought on by digital customer engagement. For those that weren’t able to make it, here’s a round-up of the highlights and takeaways from the event.
CX tech builds bespoke experiences—and trust
At risk of becoming tech-obsessed, our panel was in agreement that there is a need for banks to utilize digital tools in a way that fosters meaningful interactions. From my own perspective, this starts with framing digital CX strategies as a trust-gaining process. Far from being just another gadget, digital tools should initiate a change in the way we think about banking processes. The subsequent challenge is adapting them for a world where physical presence is no longer the sole remedy.
Chris Loake rightly added that personalized interactions should be central in the use of technology, as a means to supercharge those personal relationships that are integral to client trust. In order to achieve this, as Tara Palmer explained, it’s vital that we understand technology as an extension of human expertise. In wealth management settings like her own at Kleinwort Hambros, a trusted adviser should always be at the core of a service, with digital tools and information deployed to augment their abilities and create more client value. This idea certainly felt familiar from an Unblu perspective, given that the centrality of the advisor is so integral to uses of our platform in wealth management.
Of course, the introduction of digital tools must also take stock of the compliance landscape, which is still an evolving picture. Drawing on our recent efforts to optimize the Unblu platform for the compliance challenge, the panel shared my view that wealth advisory firms should also be treating this as a priority. We can’t forget that part of digital CX is taking control of the regulatory impact. In the long-term, this will translate into client trust.
Data has potential to refine client communications
Our discussion about the use of data in client-facing communications pointed to a clear conclusion: personalization is hugely important—yet largely untapped. With new data constantly being generated through online interactions, I suggested that firms should see this as an opportunity to understand their clients and proactively communicate with them. One area that this could be developed, for example, would be through the use of sentiment analysis among lesser-understood client segments.
Chris Loake made the important point that resources in this area are often lacking. As he explained, bigger data teams would serve to improve customer segmentation and facilitate the end goal of hyper-personalization.
To that, Michael Sherwood added that many banks are still yet to get the basics right when it comes to personalized communication. At the baseline, any interaction with a client must be genuinely value-based. As he put it: “Only contact customers when you’ve got something great to offer them.”
Focus on flexibility to give clients choice
The panel was in no doubt that a range of touchpoints is key, where a combination of voice, email, video conferencing and in-app features is optimal. While this caters to a range of preferences, an omnichannel approach also has the advantage of adapting to needs as they arise at different stages of the customer journey. This is a key source of value we’ve seen in implementations of Unblu in wealth management settings.
As Michael Sherwood added, more complex journeys like mortgages and secured loans are enhanced by a wider selection of touchpoints. Since these processes typically involve multiple parties, he suggested that centralized in-app visualizations would benefit clients by enabling them to track exactly where they are.
Equally important, according to Tara Palmer, is the new expectation for 24/7 service. In lieu of keeping an office open all day everyday, these demands around flexibility are another compelling reason for private banks to develop dynamic omnichannel solutions.
That being said, I felt it was important to establish a finer detail within this new paradigm: that instantaneous responses aren’t necessarily a client priority. While they expect to be able to reach out to their bank at any time, most clients will be satisfied to air the issue in an authenticated environment and await a response within a reasonable time frame. For continuous and flexible communications, then, a strong asynchronous messaging capability is crucial.
Providing a platform for digital pioneers
On behalf of Unblu, I’d like to once again thank our acclaimed panelists, our audience, and our partners at the FTAdviser for their collaboration in making the event a success. We look forward to sitting down with more influential speakers and sector specialists at our upcoming events.