Self-service digital solutions allow the user to resolve problems easily without calling customer service or visiting a branch A growing number of financial users prefer to use online platforms where they can have control over their transactions and find answers easily. Digital self-service solutions are designed to meet the transactional and information needs of those consumers who do not want to call customer service or visit a branch and, instead, prefer to resolve the issues on their own. A self-management strategy that empowers the user should include resources such as tutorials and how-to videos, scalable technologies such as chatbots powered by artificial intelligence (AI), and voice assistants; as well as a lot of advice on services and products to facilitate navigation through digital channels and to promote the institution's offering. It should also include open communication channels, such as text messaging or virtual assistants, as well as simple ways to contact agents, if necessary. All these elements contribute to facilitate customer service and improve the user experience (UX)—an intangible but essential asset for attracting and retaining customers. Investing in UX is a growth opportunity. Seventy-five percent of customers said they are willing to spend more with companies that offer a good customer experience, according to a study by Zendesk, a customer service software provider that reviewed data from 90,000 companies in 175 countries. One might think that financial institutions could lose their "face-to-face" advantage in a world with fewer person-to-person interactions and more self-service, but this is not necessarily the case. Platforms like Netflix and Amazon have shown us that building a loyal relationship without physical interaction is quite possible. Of course, it is necessary to develop a content strategy through digital channels to further strengthen ties with users. Keep in mind that the cost of not having a self-service strategy will often be customer queries being left unanswered.
When customers can find the answers to their questions on their own, things are better for everyone: clients are happier because they save time and are not reliant on a customer service team for solutions, while advisors are freed up to focus on the users who really need them. Conversational experiences help customers to self-manage their queries. For years, communication between companies and consumers was unidirectional, with no real exchange between brands and recipients. Today, business messaging has evolved considerably, and communication flows through broadly used channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Business Messages or Apple Business Chat, as well as messages within banking applications or chatbots and voicebots. The aim is to make the exchange as natural as possible, even when bots are used to answer common questions such as "I forgot my pin number", "I lost my card", "I need my purchase history", etc. The self-service option must be available and visible, regardless of the device. These types of support can also be scaled up to more advanced technologies such as interactive voice response (IVR) powered by AI and chatbots, especially for entities where callers still play a leading role. Implementing this solution for the banking industry is faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective than human agents for reducing resolution times. But if the human factor is important to the business, IVRs are a strategic ally for customer communication and routing. This tool makes it possible to identify the problem and channel it to the appropriate department without going through two or three other departments first or having to wait for an available agent. We must keep in mind that unlike traditional chatbots, AI IVR uses advanced algorithms to teach itself using the input data in order to improve the prediction of questions and answers.
A self-service tool allows the user's experience to be personalized and not only when it comes to the products on offer. An institution can use these platforms to address its customers directly, fluidly, and even by name. A record of the most frequently used transactions or most searched questions can also be stored and be displayed prominently; the data generated by the searches also provides clues to the issues that most commonly affect users, giving banks an opportunity to work on addressing the underlying causes. Another area of customization in the field of self-service banking is payments. During the last two years we have witnessed how the use of cash has declined and electronic and digital payments are increasingly dominating the stage. Therefore, it is important for the user to have the freedom to choose the most convenient payment method, especially for financial products such as loans or credit cards. Similarly, to adhere to the concept of self-service, these payments must be available where and when the customer needs them; that is to say, it can no longer be a service restricted or limited to a certain number of days or hours. All these actions ensure that users can carry out their own transactions with the information at hand, without the need to saturate call centers or waste valuable time waiting in line.
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