PANEL DISCUSSION SUMMARY
Transforming customer experience and onboarding in the disrupted banking landscape
The COVID-19 crisis has seen unprecedented demand for digital services, accelerating the shift from bricks and mortar branches to online banking even among traditionally hard-to-reach demographics. Seamlessly onboarding customers, many of whom may be unaccustomed to online banking, during a period of massive disruption and dislocation means banks are having to work harder, smarter and faster. But, as panellists on MoneyLIVE’s recent Transforming customer experience and onboarding in the disrupted banking landscape webinar made clear, banks are finding new ways of working that may stick even once the crisis has passed.
“Traditionally there were segments of the customer base, particularly the older segments, that were not digitally engaged but we’re now seeing huge registrations from them too,” said Chris Murphy, Head of Customer Journey Design at Lloyds Banking Group. “There are assumptions about various segments that have been really thrown up in the air and we’re going to have to look at those to see how we go forward from here.”
Fergus Murphy, Group Personal Banking Director at Virgin Money UK, also reported a huge increase in digital registrations and usage but said this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line for the physical branch network. “There’s been a big drop in footfall in branches but customers have been very empathetic and very praiseworthy of the work going on in branches,” he reported. “We are human beings and people reach out for that emotional connection.”
“SMEs are looking to banks for help more than ever. They are using bounce back loans to pivot their business models and adapt to the new situation”
There’s also been a massive demand for digital services from the SME sector. “SMEs are looking to banks for help more than ever,” said Victoria Newton, Head of Propositions and Commercial Strategy at challenger bank Starling Bank. “SMEs are using bounce back loans to pivot their business models and adapt to the new situation. One customer had a business selling science kits to schools and she has been able to make her services available to home-schoolers and pivot her distribution model completely.”
“We’ve spun out new customer journeys and built them in days and weeks, when usually it would take six months. We’re making pricing decisions in 24 hours, when it used to be six months.”
The need to rapidly provide extra support and help to customers at this difficult time has forced legacy banks out of their comfort zone, pushing them to work with the kind of speed and agility that comes naturally to challengers like Starling.
“We’re the largest retail bank and we have that societal obligation to service the vulnerable and all of society is vulnerable now in my opinion,” said Chris Murphy of Lloyds Banking Group. “To support customers in this really acute time, we’ve spun out new customer journeys and built them in days and weeks, when usually it would take six months. We’re making pricing decisions in 24 hours, when it used to be six months.”
“Bounce back loans were announced on the Monday and ready to go the following week. Now we’re looking to anticipate what comes next.”
Mark Longstaff, Account Director, Financial Services at Adobe, said the industry had really risen to the challenge, collaborating with partners to get solutions in place to support customers and businesses. “Bounce back loans were announced on the Monday and ready to go the following week,” he said. “Now we’re looking to anticipate what comes next.”
“Customers really recognise the service they are getting in a very difficult time. It’s helping absolve memories of the global finance crisis.”
With banks there to stand a socially-distanced shoulder-to-shoulder with their personal and SME customers, there has been a positive rise in NPS scores. “Customers really recognise the service they are getting in a very difficult time,” Fergus Murphy of Virgin Money. “It’s helping absolve memories of the global finance crisis and the banks’ prominence in that, which is a silver lining in one sense.”
Keeping essential workers safe
With banking an essential service, banks have worked hard to find ways to operate branches safely. “We have 20,000-30,000 colleagues on the frontline in branches and contact centres, so we have a big responsibility to keep them safe,” said Chris Murphy of Lloyds Banking Group.
This has meant increased autonomy on the frontline to best serve local areas and keep staff safe.
“It’s driven a discretionary energy, whereby we’ve devolved as much accountability as possible to regional managers because they know their regions and staff best, which branches to keep open, which to close, which staff have childminding issues and who needs to self-isolate,” reported Fergus Murphy of Virgin Money.
“What does a “fear of touch” mean for branches? It’s not just cash and cheques but also more modern investments, such as kiosks and touchpads, that may need to be rethought.”
The COVID-19 crisis is forcing people to think and act in new ways. “What do the new norms mean for banks?” asked Mark Longstaff, Account Director, Financial Services at Adobe. “What does a fear of touch mean for branches? It’s not just cash and cheques also more modern investments, such as kiosks and touchpads, that may need to be rethought.”
He predicted this could well accelerate the rise of voice as a channel. “We’re getting used to voice activated assistants all the time,” he said, pointing out that since the lockdown people are talking and interacting more than ever.
“We probably would have made this shift [to home working] slowly over the next three years but we managed to bring it in just a week or two and it will probably be part of how we do things forever now”
It’s not just branches that are having to adapt to the new normal. Social distancing has seen contact centres reorganised to allow more people to work from home, accelerating a trend that was already underway. “We probably would have made this shift over the next three years but we managed to bring it in just a week or two and it will probably be part of how we do things forever now,” said Fergus Murphy of Virgin Money. “I think about 70/30 of what’s happening now will be here to stay across all sectors of life and society.”
Mark Longstaff of Adobe said the past two months had put banks on a steep learning curve around business continuity. “Offshore contact centres were shut very quickly in some countries, people had to move to video conferencing virtually overnight, procurement teams had to learn to transact from home and HR had to get furlough letters out from home,” he said. “It was a shock for many.”
Onboarding in a disrupted world
“For our onboarding experience, customers do not have to leave home. We are totally set up for this world”
It’s never been more important for banks to be able to onboard customers smoothly and seamlessly. “For our onboarding experience, customers do not have to leave home,” said Newton of Starling Bank. “They can upload their documents and send in a video. We are totally set up for this world, which is why we’re seeing such an influx of accounts.”
She added: “it’s not totally automated. We have humans looking at every point of this journey but for the customer, it’s a totally seamless journey.”
Fergus Murphy of Virgin Money agreed it’s important to have people behind the digital process. “Sometimes that process needs assistance from human beings, depending on the digital journey and how complex it is,” he said. “It’s about educating the customer and we find once they have got over that unease and lack of confidence, they usually enjoy it, take it on and promote it themselves.”
“These are highly regulated journeys. There’s a lot of information we have to disclose…and sophisticated antifraud systems that inherently add friction”
While online retailers have set a high bar for seamless transactions, there has to be additional friction for a regulated industry like banking. “These are highly regulated journeys,” said Chris Murphy Head of Customer Journey Design Lloyds Banking Group. “There’s a lot of information we have to disclose, and we have to consider the customer’s cognitive load during onboarding. Then there’s biometrics and other sophisticated antifraud systems that inherently add friction into that journey.”
Striking the right balance, between necessary friction and a user-friendly experience, requires endless iteration and good communication. “We have to explain why we have to have this friction and that it’s usually for their benefit,” said Murphy.
To minimise non-essential friction, Fergus Murphy said established banks should seek out partnerships with specialist providers who really focus on one part of the journey to make sure it’s best of breed. “Using Adobe you can really mine into where those bottlenecks are, do your testing and really improve that journey all the time,” he said. “It’s about marginal improvements all the time, sometimes you can hardly see them but over time these micro-improvements really make a big difference to that journey.”
Victoria Newton of Starling Bank said there had been huge pressures on onboarding in the last couple of weeks. “We have had to take people from all over the organisation, engineers and marketeers, and get them to help us with onboarding,” she said. “This meant we were able to have more than micro-improvements. Onboarding had become a pain point so we said let’s solve this and it really focused us on what’s important now.”
Accelerating new technologies
“Biometrics is the future. It’s the high water market for security”
Security and authentication are clear pinch points in the onboarding journey. Mark Longstaff of Adobe said biometrics will be “key” to resolving these, with Chris Murphy of Lloyds agreeing that biometrics are the future.
“It’s the high-water market for security,” he said, adding he expects to see pan-industry or government-industry agreements that remove the need for lots of replicated silos everywhere and people have one agreed biometric identity that they carry with them for 30 years. And when it comes to biometrics for life, Murphy said the banks are better positioned to fill this role than social media or tech groups because they already have such high standards for security and trust.
“When it comes to the fastest, slickest onboarding experience, AI is already integral to that”
Artificial intelligence is another technology that holds promise for ever-more seamless onboarding experiences. “When it comes to the fastest, slickest onboarding experience, AI is already integral to that,” said Victoria Newton of Starling Bank.
Chris Murphy of Lloyds agreed, pointing out that AI wasn’t about eliminating humans from the onboarding process but enhancing their role within it. “The utopia of AI and machine learning is that our colleagues don’t have to run operational processes but can focus their attention on talking to the customer,” he said.
“Paper is the enemy of customer experience, profits and our planet. If someone offers you a bit of paper or asks you to print it out, challenge it and ask if there is a better way.”
It was left to Mark Longstaff of Adobe to conclude this lively discussion, which pulled together speakers from Ireland, London and Oxford with thought-provoking questions from viewers from around the world. “Paper is the enemy of customer experience, profits and our planet,” he said. “If someone offers you a bit of paper or asks you to print it out, challenge it and ask if there is a better way.”
With physical touch now a COVID-19 risk factor, the printed document may be on borrowed time as we all embrace digitally innovative ways of doing business.
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