Today’s banks are almost unrecognisable from what they were even a decade ago, writes Nicola Els, commercial strategist, Striata Africa. Thanks to technology, the primary focus of banking has moved from the branch to the computer and, currently, the smartphone.

It’s been an incredibly rapid period of evolution, which hasn’t always been easy on the industry’s incumbents. Those who put customer experience (CX) at the centre of their technological transformation efforts, however, have thrived. Almost without exception, these banks have put a lot of effort into their digital communication strategies. And, as banking reaches new digital heights, digital communication will become more important than ever.

Digital communication and CX

For banks especially, digital communication is key to good CX. Catering to a wide range of customers across a large spectrum of age-groups, many banking customers will embrace new technologies and ways of communicating with their bank, but others would rather keep doing things the way they always have done.

Good CX entails allowing them to do so on the channel of their choice, but it also means doing so in a way that is consistent and accessible across all of those channels.

For instance, the bank’s website and app should have the same tone and feel as the communications it sends out via email, text, and instant messaging. Taking this approach is especially important when it comes to introducing and helping customers get to grips with any new technologies available to them.

If the communication around the new technology looks and feels familiar, and explains it in a way that’s easy to understand, customers are more likely to accept it. And, unlike their analogue counterparts, digital communication allows banks to build lasting relationships with virtually their entire customer base, creating regular engagement and trust, which are vital to good CX.

Keeping things safe

This need for trust only goes further when you factor in how vital security is to CX in the banking space. In South Africa, cybercrime reportedly costs more than R2-billion a year. While not all of that is due to cybercriminals spoofing bank customers in phishing schemes, it is still a massive problem.

Over the years, banks have improved at responding to these threats, and any wider breaches which occur as a result. But the truth is they’re engaged in a digital arms race with cybercriminals and technology can only go so far when it comes to protecting customers.

A far more valuable tool is leveraging digital communication to educate customers. By informing them about the latest forms of cybercrime, and how they can protect themselves, banks significantly reduce the likelihood of customers becoming victims. Importantly, however, this kind of messaging also makes customers feel more secure. Knowing that your bank understands cybercrime and is willing to empower you in avoiding it is powerful. It makes you feel like you’ve made the right choice when it comes to safeguarding your money.

That kind of confidence is vital to CX in the banking space, where safety and trustworthiness are the default expectations. Any bank that fosters this sense of trust will end up with more loyal customers who are more likely to adopt other products it offers.

Ultimately, banks need to ensure that they build that sense of trust into their CX plans, especially as it moves ever further into the digital realm. Building trust requires building relationships, and that requires regular and consistent communication. It’s important to remember, however, that any bank looking to embrace digital communication has to take a long-term view. Trust is built and strengthened over time. Getting it right isn’t always easy, but the rewards for those who do are potentially immense.

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