The coronavirus epidemic was challenging for everyone, people and businesses alike. Customers who until then did not use online services are now more accustomed to digital channels. The most popular shopping option is online stores, education is provided online, and official matters can be handled remotely.
On the other hand, the crisis in the labor market, high inflation rates, and a sense of uncertainty are forcing bank customers to be particularly careful with money. It translates into a growing number of requests for temporary suspension of loan repayments or granting power of attorney and the need to exchange necessary documents with the bank.
The situation strikes not only the effectiveness of acquiring new prospects and selling products but also serving the existing customers. Unfortunately, in many banks not all matters related to active banking products can be handled online. Therefore, the ability to settle day-to-day banking matters in digital channels has just become one of the vital determinants of a bank’s quality of service.
In a perfect world, all banking operations would be dealt with online. Why is it not so?
The successful ongoing service of banking products in digital channels is basically two things.
The first is to enable customers to handle their issues using preferred digital channels. The accessibility and simplicity of using the product or service are a measure of its quality. On top of this comes efficient delivery of files such as certificates, documents, or regulations to customers.
The second element is the efficient processing of customer service requests on the bank’s end.
In order to enable customers to handle banking errands online, you need to provide them with tools such as electronic forms available in desktop and mobile banking applications. This is not trivial, because designing the perfect process for collecting data from a customer is labor-intensive.
Under the principle of „better done than perfect," you have to think about some simplifications – and then, with less time pressure, refine the process. The entire set of service requests a customer could submit is up to several hundred items. The exact number depends on the range of products.
However, there are significant subsets of processes that share a pattern. Simplified, it boils down to: „description → document → acknowledgment → acceptance".
Building on a „template", reusing graphical components and bypassing the need to integrate with the bank’s API, it is possible to quickly create online forms and embed them in the channels the customers want to use – i.e., primarily online and mobile banking applications.
An example of such a process is a request for temporary suspension of loan repayment. Instead of creating widgets for selecting a loan account, you can give users a text field where they enter the loan agreement number or describe it in their own words as they would in a branch.
Remember that the goal is to provide an online self-service option (even in a simplified, perhaps temporary form) and enable customers to get things done without visiting the branch.
Furthermore, the similarities allow for a component-based approach to developing electronic forms, which means many elements can be reused in other processes, for example:
Leverage the process „template", reuse graphical components, and bypass the need to integrate with the banking API to quickly create an online form and embed it in online and mobile banking applications. It is possible to implement such a simplified process in a matter of days.
How to ensure customers quickly find what they need in online banking? Read the article How to help bank customers get things done online.
For a bank, making products and services available online is just the beginning, because they still need to be processed in some way. How can these operations be assisted?
Naturally, it would be best if all processes were automated, and bank employees would be involved only when necessary.
Unfortunately, developing several hundred processes is uneconomic and impossible. However, there are ways around this.
Service requests placed by customers online are sent to a central service point where employees process them manually.
It requires providing the employees (e.g., via email to the bank’s internal mailbox) with the request details that can be easily read and entered into the system – for instance, as a PDF document.
However, centralized handling of a large number of requests may quickly exceed the capabilities of a single group of employees.
Therefore, it is worth considering the decentralization of service request processing and engaging other resources – branch employees.
As in the case of centralized processing, online service requests can be forwarded to branch employees.
How does the system decide which branch the case goes to?
Since all necessary customer data is known to the bank (the customer completes a form as a logged-in user) – the parent branch is also known. If the request can be handled by any branch, forward it (e.g., as an email with a PDF attachment containing data from the client’s application form) to the least busy branch or choose the most suitable branch according to a different key.
Note that there are types of requests that require manual handling. For example, in the case of a customer who wants to reduce the limits on the card, the bank may activate an „anti-churn" procedure. Under such a procedure, the bank contacts the customer to dissuade them from resigning from the product or to offer better terms.
Manual processing of customer service requests consumes considerable amounts of time, but automation is expensive and not profitable for all processes.
The implementation of manual processing is easier, and it can be treated as a temporary solution. It does not close the door to automating the process at a certain point in future. What’s more, it buys you some time needed to properly plan the automation of the most cost-effective processes and then execute this plan under less time pressure.
If you want to learn more about automating digital banking processes, read Process automation – why combine BPMS with the Eximee low-code development platform?
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of customers using online banking services, but many banks still do not offer all services online. There is no doubt about the trend, though. All banks are increasing their digital proposition, and those most advanced can offer the most to customers in difficult times. To improve customer satisfaction, banks should enable online self-service options, develop an efficient way to remotely process cases in a centralized unit or branches, and automate the most cost-effective processes.