2018 Outlook | Payments: 2018 the year of the customer

For Banks – The Customer Should Come Second!

There is nothing worse than walking into one of your favorite shops only to discover that this particular branch is staffed by a miserable bunch of people, and not only that but they look like they’d rather be doing anything else rather than serving you.

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In fact, realising that you are probably only going to get bad service if you stay in this shop is likely to have you considering whether to choose another shop.

On the other hand, there is no better salesperson than one who absolutely loves their job and is more than willing to sing its praises. This, anyway, is Richard Branson’s way of thinking.

The Secret of Superb Customer Service

In a complete reversal of the hierarchy many of us have held to be self-evident, where customers come before everyone else, Branson has built Virgin by putting his employees first.

His reasoning is very simple – treat your employees badly and they, in turn, will treat your customers badly, destroying your brand experience and potentially putting them off your business for life.

In an interview with Inc., he said: “My philosophy has always been, if you can put staff first, your customer second and shareholders third, effectively, in the end, the shareholders do well, the customers do better, and you yourself are happy.”

However, knowing how to keep your staff happy is not easy. In fact, most retail outlets look as if they especially hire miserable wretches on purpose.

To help transform your bank and give your customer-service a huge injection of energy you will have to cheer-up your staff.

Conversational Banking –The Missing Ingredient

So is it such a great idea to automate even more banking practices? By definition, conversational banking is a bi-directional interface between a customer and a bank, where a conversation can be initiated by either participant through a voice, text or visual interface. While the responses given by the bank are machine-generated, responses can be delegated to bank staff where necessary to gently handle more difficult or sensitive conversations.

Conversational interfaces offer many benefits over the applications and features of a typical application. The principal differentiator between conversational interfaces and apps is their usability, offering a more user-friendly and consistent experience across all interfaces. In contrast, apps vary enormously in look and feel, each featuring their own distinctive design, style of menu and method of navigation. When interacting with a conversational interface, the customer benefits from no longer facing the limitations and restrictions of the app provider’s terminology.

Instead, the customer can engage with the interface using their own vernacular. A successful example of this is Caixa Bank, which developed a conversational banking interface for its customers, in partnership with IBM, to develop a cognitive system based on IBM’s Watson that is able to understand Spanish voice. As digital banking becomes the norm rather than the exception, a conversational AI-enabled banking experience will be the key differentiator for banks in winning and retaining their customers.

*This is the third of Three Blogs on Customer Retention based on a whitepaper, developed by IBS Intelligence and Temenos, which analyses the dynamics and drivers of customer retention and looks at the various strategies currently in play within the European banking industry.

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