The 12th of August 2020 marked the day the UK officially returned to recession, as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is felt by a wide range of industries. Senior economist at NIESR, Kemar Whyte, stated that “despite some recovery noted in June, the path ahead remains precarious”.
The retail and hospitality sectors have challenges ahead, attempting to recoup losses over previous months with many extending their own variations of the Government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme which ran throughout August, although the impact of the recent government mandated 10pm curfew is yet to be seen. Meanwhile, the banking industry faces its own unique challenges in the wake of COVID-19 as they struggle to reactively digitalise services for better customer engagement and overall experience.
The Role of The UK Bank in 2020
Banks have played an important role by providing well-needed capital to businesses affected by the pandemic, but their requirement for an ‘always-on’ service has led to many customers experiencing long wait times and delayed replies from their bank. Call centres and branch offices nationwide were forced to either close completely or significantly reduce the number of active staff with very short notice, putting into question the practicality of assisting customers effectively while customer service agents work from remote locations.
The FCA coronavirus guidance places emphasis on how “firms are reminded of their MiFID II conduct of business obligations”, also implying that business continuity plans are an expectation when it comes to managing the challenge remote working brings for customers and staff.
The FCA guidance goes on to state “firms should take all reasonable steps to meet the regulatory obligations which are in place to protect their consumers and maintain market integrity. For example, if a firm has to close a call centre – requiring staff to work from other locations (including their homes) – the firm should establish appropriate systems and controls to ensure it maintains appropriate records, including call recordings if required.” As we stand six months on from the initial lockdown, it’s fair to think that the majority of regulated services should now have a resilient, compliant, and secure remote worker solution in place. This isn’t necessarily the case as Onecom’s research would attest to.
Another significant issue that arose was the inability of many banks to meet the expected service level of customers due to ineffective cloud technology infrastructure, translating into a poor perception of service quality. Research by PwC shows that 92% of consumers will leave a brand they are loyal to after two or three negative experiences, and so it’s no surprise why many banks are increasingly choosing customer experience improvement as their primary focus, opting for omnichannel strategies which allow for multiple channels of communication, yet a seamless experience for the agent, especially as competition grows with the advent of online, app-based challenger banks such as Monzo and Starling.
Responding to a Crisis
Onecom’s recent research report aimed to explore how banks responded to the COVID-19 crisis, and how their response was perceived by the bank’s own staff and customers. The research reveals that half (58%) of banking customers felt that their online services did not meet their needs during COVID-19 lockdown. The top stated reasons for customer dissatisfaction were “I can’t get through when I want” and “They don’t respond to me in real time”. Poor customer service is the primary source of consumer dissatisfaction, and banks must find ways to create more effective customer service operations going forward. Thankfully, modern cloud technology offers a set of solutions to help support and simplify the customer experience process for customers and operators.
Improving Service Agility
While some offices and branches have returned to normal operations, many will remain working from home. Research by the CIPD recognises that home working activity is set to more than double compared to pre-pandemic levels. For this reason, it’s paramount that banks create a flexible remote working operation that allows staff to respond to inbound customer enquiries over web chat or phone, from any location. With the capabilities to implement intelligent routing to agents in remote locations, an omnichannel contact centre will create a more resilient call centre operation for banks to quickly resolve customer questions and issues.
Happy staff means happy customers
Onecom’s research found that 42% of bank’ employees felt that their bank wasn’t doing enough to successfully meet the needs of its customers during COVID-19. It’s important to note that companies who lead in customer experience have 60% more engaged employees. By creating a great working experience for your employees, they feel more compelled to provide simply brilliant customer experiences, also resulting in longer staff retention rates and greater productivity.
Use of AI-Based Analytics
The research observed that emerging generations such as Generation Z are continuing to express high levels of dissatisfaction with banks’ service during COVID-19. Finding methods to obtain actionable intelligence on the service experience is important. Google AI Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning provides real-time insight into your customers preferences, helping businesses make positive changes to the service experience, and create proven, measurable results.
Creating customer loyalty can be difficult in a field as competitive as banking, especially with the growth of remote working and the increasingly demanding needs of a digitally-savvy generation, but with the right CX and operational strategy, aligned to a roadmap of technology transformation, it has never been easier to deliver first-rate customer experiences which benefit the customer, the operator, and the wider business.
Would you like to read the research report in full? To receive your free of charge PDF copy of Onecom’s banking research report, 'Digitally Transforming Britain’s Banks: Reactivity in the Face of a Public Health Crisis', simply download here.
If you are ready to talk about how to create increased consumer loyalty, talk to Onecom today for free virtual advice on creating simply brilliant customer experiences through transformative, digitally focused technology.