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Demands for customer self-service within the financial services sector are increasing rapidly as consumer needs and preferences evolve. When it comes to banking customers and credit union members, however, finding ways to meet those expectations can be particularly challenging. Most financial services transactions are highly personalized, and for that reason, many have historically occurred face-to-face. Creating personalized, efficient, and secure interactions that go beyond just transferring funds or checking account balances pose unique challenges for banks and credit unions.

The aftermath of the COVID pandemic along with digital experience trends in retail and other industries continue to shape financial services customer expectations as part of the Expectation Economy. The good news is that technology is advancing in ways that improve customer self-service options and drive robust omnichannel capabilities for FinServ customers (and employees). SmartApps, the evolution of conversational AI, and a host of other upcoming technologies show promise for supporting better experiences that meet the expectations of today’s financial services customers.

Meeting Rising Customer Self-Service Demands, Today and in the Future

According to an April 2022 financial services trends report from Salesforce, 59% of customers say their standards for customer service have risen. These higher expectations result from sophisticated digital and hybrid experiences consumers have grown used to from companies like Amazon, as well as the rapid pivot within FinServ organizations to digital, self-service options during the pandemic. Banking customers and credit union members want to perform pressing, complex tasks without having to speak to a representative. This can include anything from reporting fraudulent activity or starting a new loan application to stopping a check from clearing. The desire to complete transactions without needing the help of a human being is strong, driven by the “buy-in-one-click” atmosphere customers now prefer across industries.

Beyond creating a more desirable customer experience, financial services organizations can benefit in other ways from creating robust self-service capabilities. Digital touchpoints offer a much deeper level of customer insights that help understand behaviors, uncover new opportunities, and improve services and products to better meet evolving needs. While the cost savings from fewer physical locations is obvious, increasing robust customer self-service capabilities help keep employees focused on only the most crucial interactions, driving efficiency and enriching the customer experience.

The goal is to design frictionless experiences that meet each customer’s preferences for both digital and in-person interactions. Sophisticated SmartApps solutions along with more traditional technologies like mobile banking, ATMs, and ITMs currently provide much of that desired omnichannel experience. However, advancements in conversational AI and other technologies like those we see in retail and other industries are on the horizon. To stay ahead of the competition, banks and credit unions must have strong strategies that deploy relevant technology available now, and ready their omnichannel experiences for new tools and services marching rapidly toward reality.

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Creating an Omnichannel Experience to Meet—and Exceed—Customer Self-Service Demands

The pandemic, new generations of customers, and pressure from expectations set by experiences within other industries have accelerated the move away from high touch, in-person transactions toward maximizing digital engagement opportunities within every touchpoint. To stay competitive, banks and credit unions must create personalized omnichannel experiences so customers can move seamlessly within and between whichever channel they choose. These experiences must also be consistent, whether customers are using a mobile app to ask a question or inquiring about the status of a loan application through Facebook Messenger or a Voice Assistant.

Authentication is a crucial aspect of creating strong FinServ omnichannel experiences as well. Customers want the ability to transition seamlessly from a virtual assistant to a live agent whenever and wherever they need to, without unnecessary or repetitive authentication. These transitions should be as simple and informed as possible. To make that happen, agents need all relevant information gathered during previous digital-only touchpoints for a seamless authentication process.

Providing Financial Institutions with Multi-Factor Authentication to Better Serve Members, Make Accounts More Secure, and Catch Fraud

Unfortunately, opportunities for fraud are increasing as financial services organizations add additional digital customer self-service capabilities. That’s why authentication, specifically multi-factor authentication, has become a critical tool to secure accounts and reduce risks. While two-factor authentication is used regularly by banking and credit union customers, there is a growing demand for multiple authentication options for enhanced security and ease of use.

To meet this demand, many FinServ organizations are considering ways to use biometrics for authenticating customers throughout the omnichannel. Biometrics can reduce authentication times as customers move across different channels, creating a frictionless experience. As the use of tools like Alexa and Siri have become mainstream, voice biometrics are often a leading component of multi-authentication strategies. Whether it’s via voice or other types of biometrics like fingerprint or facial recognition, biometric authentication can help financial services organizations achieve their fraud prevention goals, offering a process that’s harder to beat, and at the same time, improves each customer’s experience.

To continue to meet and exceed evolving expectations, the Avtex SmartApps Cloud platform is adding capabilities that go even further to improve your customer and omnichannel experiences. Along with new innovations using conversational AI tools, these new Smartapp features will help eliminate frustration and improve efficiency by reducing the amount of information your customers need to repeat during any touchpoint, and in any channel.

History has made it clear that the financial services industry, and your organization, must evolve with changing customer expectations. With customers expecting retail-like experiences in all sectors, continuously improving your systems and processes to best serve customers is vital. Understanding the capabilities of customer self-service today and creating strategies to incorporate new technologies on the horizon is an effective way to stay ahead of the competition by delivering the best omnichannel experiences available.

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