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The Age of Assistance, a term made popular by Google, is turning the financial services industry on its head. Consumers today are living in micro-moments, with ease of access and exposure to a large and diverse set of digital services, customers are no longer satisfied with just getting what they want. Today’s consumer demands flexibility in how and where they engage financial services to get what they want. Banks that take advantage of this shift will outpace their customers and seize a new generation of customers across a multitude of channels. Banks that fail to adapt, risk extinction.
Technology is evolving faster than ever. It is critical that financial services companies learn to adapt to the new digital ecosystem that has risen from this rapid digital transformation. Digital transformation is not solely about having your brand visible and present everywhere. That is an impossible, futile journey with a very high capital requirement. I believe the true power of a digital transformation initiative is when banks understand the power of invisibility — by partnering, leveraging customer trust, and building an ecosystem centered around the customer, the banks can be more relevant by building an invisibility fabric around the customer. Banks need to focus on leveraging digital to make their services simple, seamless, and invisible so that their customers do not face any complexities.
As the impact of COVID-19 has accelerated, banks and credit unions have been encouraging people to use alternative options outside of going into their local branch. Since mid-March, most financial institutions have been consistently providing information and educating customers through remote channels. Many have also increased their remote support options to help with day-to-day banking transactions and offering fee waivers and, in some cases, deferred payments for credit cards, mortgages and auto loans.
In addition to this accelerated digital adaptation, financial institutions have quickly adapted to a new reality of many employees working from home, which will inevitability lead to branch network consolidation.
To this point, the primary focus of banks and credit unions has been on ensuring that immediate client needs have been addressed. As these fundamental needs are met, institutions will need to help customers understand these new trends in banking.
As COVID-19 impacts the global economy and infiltrates every business across every industry, financial services companies present some of the most unique challenges. The banking industry must now adapt to a remote employee and consumer base, pushing the role of ‘banker’ into a purely digital experience. This extreme experience has given several insights on how consumers interact with banks, and what banks need to be doing in order to help customers during this time of remote living.
The biggest issue is that people will not have access to financial service branches. Banks should begin to operate under the assumption that there will be no branches open, and customers may be sequestered for an extended period of time — a wakeup call for why banks need to be digitally enabled.
With customers being isolated, banks need to shift further to emphasize their digital options and utilize social media and omnichannel outlets to pro-actively engage with clients. It is the perfect time to capitalize on a captive audience. Taking a stronger marketing angle focused around social media and personalization will bode well for banks as people are spending more time than ever on mobile devices, laptops, and TV.
Banks need to take the lead in re-assuring the customer base and asking how they can help in an empathic and personalized way. Help the customers add value to their lives during this time of uncertainty, offering options that make them feel more secure.
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