Let’s Talk About Journeys
People talk a lot about journeys. We’re used to traveling to every corner of the world on vacations. Video games that immerse you in different dimensions. We even have astronauts blasting off into space.
These days, however, with all the confinement, people talk about a lack of journeys. Want to visit your parents 90 miles away? That’s an odyssey. Want to take the kids to the nursery? Better stay inside. Need to visit your bank? You’ve got to be kidding me.
I have a busy schedule all the same. So, for me, a good journey is quite simple: take me from a to b. Make it swift, make it enjoyable, and make it as hassle-free as possible.
I’ve learned to describe myself concisely. My name is Joe. I’m married. I’m the father of a two-year-old girl. I, fortunately, have a job that is fulfilling, yet it’s also demanding. While you could say I’m currently in a sweet spot in my life journey, my job and my family take up most of my time.
That means that there are moments where it is difficult for me to find time for other things. Remember I mentioned that confinement has made it harder to visit a bank? It was already difficult for me before they closed all the branches.
Besides, it’s not that I pay much attention to my bank anyway. But sometimes I might need to get in touch with them to get a new credit card, or get advice on my savings, or apply for a loan. I need to stay on top of my finances.
I try to avoid heading to branches. Like many people, I don’t have time to wait in line. Or maybe I get frustrated by them—lines are the opposite of journeys. There’s a name for the fear of long queues: macrophobia. Perhaps I should add that trait to my personal description.
I usually call my bank on the phone instead of going there physically. Most times, however, after repeating the same details over and over, I’m directed to go to an office. So, I need to take the time to head to my local bank, wait in line, and then talk to someone who can help me.
When I’m there, I often find myself signing documents over and over. And the lines can take forever. Sometimes, there are people there with really complicated issues that take longer than usual, but most of my issues won’t take more than 10 minutes. And that’s part of the problem: Easier queries are mixed with difficult ones, but we’re all in the same line.
It’s a Digitalized World, and Banks Should Make the Most of It
I consider myself moderately tech-savvy. I don’t know how to play Minecraft, but I do know how to use mobile devices, the internet, the cloud, and apps to get by. So, when I can’t have my queries solved via the phone, I turn to mobile apps and web portals.
The story is usually the same: Things start promisingly, and it seems I might be on the way to having my query solved, but then some information is required that is too personalized or contextually complex, and I’m sent back to the drawing board. Or, more precisely, back to the line at my local branch.
I know about the convenience of self-service. It’s not like I need assistance for everything I do. I track delivery packages, change my passwords, pay my bills, and shop online, all without needing live customer service. Even better, I can do them whenever I want and via my laptop, my mobile phone, or any number of channels.
Technology is getting smarter, too. Web pages and apps remember my preferences, so I don’t have to fill in the same details over and over again. I also hear things about Artificial Intelligence and how some machines can better understand what I’m trying to say. With machine learning, natural language processing, sentiment analysis, they can even tell when I’m angry or concerned.
So, what would a digital transformation look like at my local bank? What if I could do all my bank errands through my mobile banking app, from whatever device I wanted?
All I would have to do is open the app, tap on customer support, and explain what I need. No excessive formalities or tiptoeing around jargon—I could get straight to the point.
Of course, the app is most likely controlled by a chatbot. The best AI chatbots don’t require you to paraphrase everything. They understand you perfectly, as a real person would. When I explain what I need, I’m given the information that I’ve requested without having to go back-and-forth between agents. If I decide to carry on with my request, I’m guided in the process so that my transaction, query, or upgrade is carried out swiftly. If there’s a promotion or special offer that meets my requirements, I receive a suggestion—“Hey Joe, your account is eligible for an upgrade; would you be interested?”
If I need to switch from my laptop to my phone, or to use other channels like Facebook or Whatsapp, my information should be available and consistent regardless of the channels that I use.
There are communication platforms for these kinds of things. They are cloud-based. They make sure that all the channels are connected, so everything runs smoothly and it’s like I’m talking to the same agent with no interruptions.
Modern Customers Have New Expectations
My customer service journey expectations have changed. The bank needs to help me, and not vice versa. If at some point during my request, I feel I need human assistance, then I can be relayed and have a call or chat to solve my problem. And after providing my information in my initial request, I won’t have to repeat all my details to the contact center agent, because they probably have access to all the data I provided.
When it comes to signing documents, I can do it digitally, then close the app and carry on with my day.
Even when the pandemic ends and things go back to normal, I’m sure that banks will take the best measures to re-open their branches. But I’m reluctant to head over to their offices if I can get things done on my terms and in my own time.
People talk a lot about journeys. And a good customer service journey is as important to me as it is to my bank. My schedule relies on ease, flexibility, and positive interactions, and in the end, it’s not only me who benefits from a good customer experience. My loyalty to my bank depends on this as well.
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