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From Here to There and Everywhere

Are we seeing the swan song of brick-and-mortar store fronts for banks? It’s no secret that mobile banking has taken off in recent years. People are more likely to stand outside their bank and complete a transaction on their phone than to actually go inside.

Scaling back the number of brick-and-mortar locations eliminates a lot of overhead costs. However, as Newton’s Third Law of Physics tells us, there is also an opposite reaction to the decline of physical banking locations. This move to the digital realm creates a challenge for banks to replicate the in-person customer experience digitally.

Obviously, this is no small undertaking because it involves shifting from a uni-channel service environment–the store front–where anything is possible, to a multi- or omni-channel solution. The proliferation of mobile banking shows that this shift is already well underway.

Infrastructure Challenges

Mobile banking requires banks to invest in web interfaces, mobile apps, and voice channels. These all need to integrate seamlessly with every other channel. But banks and financial institutions rarely live on the cutting edge of technology. It’s not like most banks are small, nimble organizations that can just opt to switch from MacOS to Windows on a whim.

Technology changes for entities this size require careful planning and implementation. Plus, with so much money involved, banks typically take a conservative approach to technology upgrades, opting to wait until tech matures before implementing it. There are a number of reasons for this.

A big one is reliability. Banks can’t afford downtime, both fiscally and metaphorically. The last thing a bank wants to do is to lose the trust of its customers, which can be an effect of systems going down.

Another reason is cost, and this ties into reliability. As demand for digital channels increases, banks have to shell out additional resources to meet and exceed the expectation of their customers. The larger the bank, the slower change happens.

Security is another big factor as well. Getting the PCI-compliance that financial institutions need when dealing with financial matters can be expensive and time-consuming.

A Place for Voice

Now we’re not here to suggest that the voice channel will replace the web as the go-to mobile banking channel. But with so many mobile finance apps competing for customers attention and usage, banks can’t afford to overlook any channel, especially voice.

The goal of an IVR solution should be to replicate users’ web experience over the phone. For banks embracing omni-channel customer service, having all your channels play nicely together is critical. Fortunately, with the right technology and planning getting your voice channel in alignment with your other digital channels is completely manageable.

It’s true that telephony can be one of the more complex channels to work with, but with the evolution of cloud IVR, most of the complexity and headaches associated with the voice channel are now in the hands of experts–the cloud IVR vendor.

Voice also plays a valuable role in two-factor authentication (2FA). Banks can choose between two different types of verification, voice biometrics or SMS text messages. These authentication methods, which rely on what you are or something you physically possess, are much more secure than knowledge-based authentication questions, especially when layered.

Nowadays we often take real-time voice communication for granted because it’s not a ‘new’ technology, but voice underpins many of the other digital channels that banks offer people. For example, every mobile banking app should have a one-click option for calling customer service. That means banks and banking service providers need to make sure they have voice figured out when development begins, and not as an afterthought. In other words, voice is a logical starting point for digital revolution currently occurring in banking IT.

Voice brings a unique perspective to the customer feedback loop as well. Areas for improvement or bottlenecks can reveal themselves better in some channels than other, and voice is no exception. And now that IVR has its own robust analytics and reporting tools, finding these items is easier than ever.

For banks that are serious about providing great customer experiences, having an up-to-date, easy to use, and efficient voice channel is imperative, not an option.

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Jason Myers stitches together letters and words into cogent thoughts as the Copywriter at Plum Voice.

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