As digital banking adoption rates rise sharply around the world, banks face the challenge of ensuring that they meet and exceed rising levels of customer service expectations of consumers, writes  Sameer Hajarnis

Banks around the world have gradually increased the use of digital channels to offer services to their customers. However, the unforeseen disruption caused by the pandemic acted as a catalyst for the digitalisation of many areas of banking.

Almost every financial institution began implementing new capabilities to enable their digital platforms to reach customers remotely and continue to offer them the same level as service as they had done in-person.

The industry as a whole is much further ahead with digitalisation plans now than experts had predicted at this stage, which can only be seen as a good thing. Digitising these processes can not only enable new services, but also allow financial institutions to assist and engage with customers more throughout the customer lifecycle.

What was previously a differentiator, now a necessity

With the initial disruption of the pandemic now past, financial institutions must find a competitive edge in the new “Anywhere Economy”. Consumers have come to expect the ability to conduct all of their business remotely with any device they choose and at their own convenience. What was once a differentiator has become a necessity.The challenge today is how to provide a superior customer experience within the confines of remote digital processes. To do so, organisations must deliver the same level of customer service normally offered in-person through their online, mobile, and call center channels.

A helping human hand for virtual signing 
Banks, financial institutions, and insurers are continuing to assess how they can inject human help across their digital channels when it makes sense. Traditionally, organisations have relied on face-to-face interactions to finalise complex agreements and verify a customer’s identity.Today, e-signature technology is becoming a ‘must-have’ requirement for the industry. Without this technology, the disruption for day-to-day financial services – like applying for a loan or opening a new bank account – would have been far greater during the pandemic.

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Traditional e-signature technology alone isn’t sufficient to support today’s remote banking requirements. According to the Aite Group, consumers tend to turn to channels where they can get human help for more complex banking activities such as applying for loan or completing investment strategy agreements.

Infusing human assistance into these types of digital banking activities requires a combination of capabilities to deliver an interactive experience that drives emotional engagement and in turn leads to loyalty and retention.

According to Capgemini, customers are becoming more willing to switch banking providers if they have easy access to services. Banks who can offer their users assistance through video services will enable themselves to offer positive and memorable customer experiences.

Consumers have plenty of financial service organisations to choose from today. So, these key interactions, where firms can make life easier for the consumer with e-signature technology, are critical opportunities to differentiate from the competition.

Being able to engage with customers with the help of technology like e-signature, videoconferencing, and collaboration services will not only drive better customer engagement, but it will allow complex financial agreements to be completed faster. Often these high-value activities take a lot of time, understanding and consideration to complete. But, being able to engage in real-time with customers, employees will be able to explain terms and conditions to customers, and reduce the amount of missing or incorrect information.

Right now, and beyond the disruption of the pandemic, organisations need to try to recreate a face-to-face environment digitally. Preserving the human element will enable financial brands to develop stronger relationships with their customers and help expedite key revenue generating activities.

Connecting digital identity back to the human
Human-assisted agreements are not the only way for businesses to improve their business performance through an enhanced user experience and speed up key areas that are critical to the overall business performance.Digital identity verification tools have been implemented by banks and financial institutions for a number of years now. However, as digital platforms have continued to grow along with widespread security threats like fraud, technologies like secure ‘PUSH notifications’, or ‘One Time Passwords’ with fingerprint, face recognition or other biometric checks allow organisations to satisfy Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements when engaging with customers remotely.

These interactions across digital channels are also enhancing the user experience beyond security. Rather than using inflexible authentication methods, technology allows the user to seamlessly access banking platforms safely. Without these technologies, verifying a customer’s identity remotely would be extremely time consuming for both parties involved. Customers are demanding completely seamless digital experiences, particularly in account opening processes.

Too much friction in account opening processes can greatly harm an organisation’s ability to acquire more customers, with some studies showing that it can drive abandonment rates as high as 90%. In order for banks and financial institutions to win new customers, a digital-first approach that automates identity verification with machine learning is essential to protect a consumer’s digital identity.

Ultimately, this entire identity verification process is a risk management decision that every organisation undertakes. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between security and the user experience. The best performing financial institutions will select digital identity verification solutions that can allow customers to effortlessly satisfy KYC requirements.

Banking truly has gone virtual.

The pandemic has accelerated consumers adoption of digital platforms earlier than many would have predicted. However, digital platforms being used today and in the future must adopt a hybrid model where humans are infused into banking experiences when needed.

While digital services are inherently non-human, it’s important that each process from a customer’s onboarding to the signing of an electronic agreement considers how the human-element can improve the user’s experience.

Sameer Hajarnis is e-Signature Practice Leader at OneSpan