The human touch in a computerized world – digital but not robotic.

Traditional Banking and Credit Unions face the rising costs of doing business in increasingly complex trading environments. Branches face closure and more goes online. Challenger or NEO-banks are usually digital-only, and the credit union market in the US has seen significant consolidation.

At the same time, a large recent survey* by UserTesting revealed 83% of people questioned prefer traditional bank services over digital-only, because they want the option of speaking to a teller face to face.

The challenge

So, how to maintain a human face, when commercial pressures point clearly to increased automation?

Plus, the picture isn’t as simple as the 83% headline suggests. Many people prefer online and smartphone banking. According to UserTesting’s findings*, 67% of American respondents trust their mobile banking apps and digital wallets, and 55% had not spoken to a bank teller in the last two weeks. Yet the aspiration from all generations was to have more person-to-person interaction.

It’s partly an historical problem. Early moves towards automation in the late 20th century were not well executed. Call centres often provided poor levels of customer service and online services needed smartphones before they could be genuinely convenient or comprehensive. Financial institutions have been playing catch-up ever since. However, the appetite for human interaction remains.

The solution is digital – with a human touch

The days of heavily staffed bank and credit union branches are gone, but personalization remains the key to customer satisfaction and loyalty. The answer lies in digital services designed to deliver added value with a genuine focus on customers: convenience, reliability, and meeting the needs of individuals – all the while delivering products and services which are priced competitively.

As well as being easy to use for the consumer, these services must be efficient and cost effective for the supplier. When this falls into place, branch staff can be freed from time-consuming back office tasks and provide that personal interaction more effectively.

Travel money is a good example, as seen in Money 4 Travel from Essiell – a service that combines customer convenience with operational efficiencies. Mostly using click & collect, it encourages customer-teller interaction when travel money is picked up in-branch – with opportunities to discuss complementary services at the same time. There’s more information and a video online.

It’s software houses like Essiell that hold the key to future growth in financial services – only by including the personal in the digital will consumers give their trust and the business willingly.

* UserTesting’s Global Survey Reveals that When it Comes to Banking & Finance, People Across all Generations Prefer a Human Touch, UserTesting, 4th May 2023 .

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