While digital banking has gained widespread popularity in South Africa due to its convenience, some customers still demand one-on-one personalised interactions with financial advisors. As a result, banks are responding by moving away from multichannel communication and adopting omnichannel strategies that cater to the digital-first customer while also providing a seamless connection to advisors.

The demand for personalised interaction with brands has largely been driven by changing customer expectations, with customers expecting to engage with banking organisations over the channels of their choice. This has largely been enabled by shifts in technology, with emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and enriched messaging playing a big role in the communication transitions of some banks.

However, there are challenges around adopting omnichannel strategies, especially in the case of traditional banking institutions that are still heavily reliant on legacy technologies and processes that are inhibiting their response to fast changing customer expectations.

To overcome these challenges, financial institutions must start viewing technology as more of an enabler rather than a disrupter, meaning that banks need to position their technology to support the evolution of their customers’ expectations. In some cases, this will require the reinvention of the entire customer engagement process, which essentially involves transforming how a bank interacts with its customers, shifting from the traditional model of physical branches to a contemporary approach centred on seamless omnichannel communication.

Leveraging customer data

For an omnichannel strategy to enable personalisation over different channels, it must leverage customer data to create a 360-degree view of the customer and utilise these insights to become proactive. Unlike a multichannel engagement, an omnichannel communication approach uses the customer datasets and intelligence that is built into the platform to enable switching between the channel without changing the context of the engagement.

Ironically, while some customers would rather message a business or a bank instead of speaking to an agent, it does not negate the fact that they still want the channel to communicate with them timeously and provide a speedy response that is not restricted to traditional working hours.

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However, banks that want to make the transition from multichannel to omnichannel engagement should not expect this to be a “big bang”, but rather a change that is use case driven. For organisations looking to adopt an omnichannel strategy, it’s not just a case of installing intelligence into their platform to have the capability available. Instead, they will need to consider consumption-based services that are deployed via an API framework that enables these technologies to communicate with each other. They can be rolled out or developed individually based on specific use cases that address the customer journey.

Managing customer churn

Beyond just engaging with customers and offering them an enhanced customer experience, organisations in the Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) sector can harness technology to manage growing customer churn rates. By utilising the data that provides a 360-degree view of the customer and enables personalisation, BFSI players can become proactive, offering loyalty incentives or value add financial services to existing customers such as insurance products with a home loan or the option (following prequalification) to renew finance for a new vehicle when existing vehicle finance agreement approaches the end of its term.

For these organisations, it is about using the right tools to deliver the right service at the right time. It comes down to being proactive and use case-driven to address the needs of customers over the channels and communication devices of their choice.

Ultimately, it culminates in exceeding expectations by having the tools and systems in place to enable the customer lifecycle and engagement with the organisation over an extended period of time. This will create a sense of loyalty that will ultimately increase the lifetime value of a customer.

*Baker is Industry Team Lead: BFSI Southern & East Africa at Infobip.