Exceptional Times Call for Exceptional Digital Customer Service


When crises hit, there are moments of inflection where the bold see the challenges as opportunities.

Has your digital customer service been a moment of opportunity?

The father of modern India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was an expert in crisis management. He founded the new independent state after centuries of British rule and then managed the country through the wrenching partition separating India and Pakistan. And all that change began in one year.

Nehru said, “Crises and deadlocks, when they occur, have at least this advantage—that they force us to think.”

And the current pandemic, economic shutdown and reopening have certainly given us a lot to think about.

The economic stimulus—PPP and the CARES Act in particular—have kept banks burning the midnight oil to help customers stay open and keep their communities functioning.

While banks of all sizes have done a great job managing the first wave of this crisis, there is also a key piece of the business many have not attended to. One that will have significant implications long after the pandemic and economic crisis passes.

And that’s your digital customer service and the need for a personal digital experience.

Are You Prepared for the Next Wave in Customer Service?

The first wave of customer service arrived in the late 1960s when automatic teller machines landed in the U.S.

ATMs showed banks that they could automate some of their transaction processes for customers. They allowed customers to access their accounts outside banking hours and also promised to lower fixed costs for banks, since banks wouldn’t need to hire as many tellers.

This self-service concept has been at the core of many banks’ customer service approaches, even into the digital age.

The ATM self-service has become online self-service. And if there’s a question about something, it’s likely offloaded to a call center somewhere, to people who don’t know your customers or their needs.

And that’s if you can even reach a person, after navigating a maze of phone prompts and inputting various forms of identification … before being put on hold.

Raise Expectations

Bank customer support has been overtaxed during this pandemic not only by the extraordinarily high volume of questions from anxious, frustrated consumers, but also from concerns among some employees about their safety when working in a close-contact call center environment.

The situation has grown more difficult, and it will likely grow worse before it gets better.

Consumer intelligence firm J.D. Power found that nearly a third (30%) of consumers feel they’re “not prepared at all” financially for the impact of the pandemic and ensuing economic dislocation. Additionally, 17% of respondents have less than $200 savings to draw on (including investments but not home equity) and 32% have less than $1,000.

This is a huge opportunity for community financial institutions (CFIs) to show that they understand their customers’ needs by delivering what they do best—personal service.

And today, they need to make sure they’re delivering a personal digital experience rather than an impersonal self-service menu disguised as customer service.

Customer Response Challenges

Nearly a third of consumers report having difficulty getting through by phone to their financial institution, and that number is rising.

Professional services firm Accenture revealed that 57% of financial institution customers rank call support as their initial channel preference for flexible communication, with an opportunity to ask, explain, reason or negotiate.

The problem is that large and small institutions are ill-prepared to handle the sudden increase in call volumes, combined with the need to protect a workforce in a high-risk environment and attempt to shift quickly to a remote-from-home operation.

What’s more, those banks that farm out their customer service are challenged getting enough call center workers to field the exploding number of calls, since it can be dangerous work to work during the pandemic.

Also, with lobbies closed, and rudimentary online systems, originating loans has been challenging at best. That doesn’t help the bank or its customers.

Toward a New Customer Service

Digital has become the primary customer touchpoint, forcing banks to reevaluate the capabilities and limitations of their digital offerings.

The systems they bought just to be in the digital game are showing their weaknesses now. And they’re affecting banks’ bottom lines.

There’s another Nehru quote that’s also appropriate for where we are now: “Every little thing counts in a crisis.”

And right now, the needs of consumers and businesses are less conventional and more critical than ever. Offering a slow, lightweight digital experience simply won’t cut it.

But a system like Banno Conversations was built to address these issues: It’s a full-service digital platform with today, and tomorrow, in mind.

It’s possible now to meet your customers at their moments of need with enabled live, immediate, actionable conversations inside digital banking.

What’s more, these digital interactions are fielded on-demand by the same tellers staffing branches, the ones your customers already know and trust.

Human-centered Technology Is Here

When consumers or businesses are threatened with financial catastrophe or uncertainty, they only want one thing: to speak with a real person—preferably someone with whom they have continuity and history.

Some CFIs are already prioritizing this combination of human and digital touchpoints, extending personal support beyond the limits of the branch and self-service to restore their relationship-based banking model.

Delivering secure, encrypted, fully authenticated chat in real time enables banks to more easily serve customers at their precise moments of need.

The most promising chat channels are directly connected to the bank’s core, enabling chat that’s both informational and transactional. This integration allows bank staff to easily present actionable multiple-choice lists inside the context of a conversational thread, delivering value and enabling resolution in real time.

Customers are also empowered to remotely complete tasks once reserved for the branch or call center.

With the digital-enabled chat, the customer can initiate a conversation with a trusted local banker and seamlessly and securely attach the transaction inside the chat channel, providing the context the bank employee needs to quickly resolve the problem.

There’s no trying to describe details of the transaction over the phone, no scrolling to find what day or time it occurred and no painstakingly spelling out the name or amount. The process becomes faster, easier and less frustrating for all involved.

Banks can also reach out to customers with messages like “Stay safe and please be advised of our updated hours” or “Here are the cleaning precautions and/or limitations we’re enforcing at all branches.”

Whatever the content of the message, this outreach reminds consumers and businesses that a live, local person from their CFI is there, only a click away. This is at the core of brand loyalty.

Providing an avenue for bank employees to meaningfully and contextually engage with customers also magnifies CFIs’ key differentiator—personal service. It also bridges the gap between branch and digital services, creating a more fulfilling experience.

This new personal digital experience once again allows CFIs to do what they do best: provide outstanding service to their customers.

Prepare for the Digital Wave

Remember that a pandemic is an event, and the move to digital banking is a massive megatrend. The pandemic has only increased the pace of that trend.

Business Insider expects digital to become the primary channel for a greater number of customers moving forward. Institutions that build out non-branch channels will win the day, and the next decade.

But here’s the thing: Automation is not the answer, especially for CFIs.

And a slow, lightweight version of online banking in app form just doesn’t cut it, especially as people’s needs in a crisis become less conventional and more exceptional.

The Killer KPI: MON2Res

There are plenty of KPIs for your online banking platform, many dealing with speed.

And speed is certainly important. But it’s table stakes now. If speed isn’t in the service of MON2Res, it’s immaterial.

What’s MON2Res?

It means the time between a customer’s moment of need to the resolution of that moment of need.

This is where new technology comes into play.

Recent innovations that combine human and digital touchpoints in refreshing ways allow financial institutions to extend personal support beyond the walls of the branch.

But this isn’t about installing the latest chatbot on your website. After all, a chatbot will never replace the human care, intelligence and respect that your support team offers.

It’s the ability to translate live, personal service—and transactional functions—inside digital channels, all happening in real time to better serve customers at their very moments of need.

Your customers’ MON2Res is much faster and the experience is an exciting blend of cutting-edge tech with a human touch.

It’s the ability to minimize the mundane and maximize the meaningful, in the service of MON2Res. This is our mantra at Jack Henry Digital.

Is Your Digital Customer Service Platform Ready?

Giving your employees a way to engage personally and contextually with users inside the digital channel is a true differentiator for CFIs.

And it flips the old model of tech “advances” where the focus is taking people out of the equation. This new model is all about creating a personal digital experience that’s built around humans instead of an isolated self-service platform.

The technology is here. It’s now up to you to deploy it and send a lasting impression throughout your communities—letting everyone know that you are fully prepared to bring your banking into the next digital age, all while maintaining your community focus.