The year 2025 may seem like a long time off, but the technology investments that businesses make today will absolutely affect their ability to communicate then. By Henri Dura, CEO, GMC Software, and Nick Dempsey, General Manager, GMC Software, Australia and New Zealand.
Customer communications such as contracts, invoices and statements are an important component of the customer experience, yet are often over-looked.
The following scenario should not be a surprise to you.
The customer wants to arrange a personal loan. The customer wants it easy and personalised.
The customer has the power. The customer has information at her fingertips. If she doesn’t, she knows where to find it. Customers communicate with each other directly or through reviews, feedback, and other ways, to offer up recommendations. Companies need to be listening.
The world is changing fast; and so is the business- to-consumer interaction experience. Companies need to be able to respond quickly. They need to be able to communicate via customers’ preferred channels. Tone, style, and messaging needs to be consistent, regardless of the channel. Delighting the customer and delivering a great customer experience is a huge competitive advantage for any company.
This piece will explore how communication could be in 2025 from various perspectives – consumer technology, customer expectations and information availability – offering some guidelines on how financial services businesses should best plan to ensure they’re ready for now, and the future.
CONSUMER TECHNOLOGY WILL UNDERGO RADICAL TRANSFORMATION
Over the next decade, the essential need to connect with people and handle transactions will not change much, but the devices we use, the frequency of switching touch points, and the etiquette of these communication channels will continue to evolve.
Today, we communicate via a multitude of channels including paper-based mail, smart phones, tablets, and desktop and laptop computers across a variety of third-party services, social networks and business networks. Consumers have also been rapidly embracing wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smart watches, as well as immersive 3D experiences. Today, Snapchat, Instagram and in ways, Periscope, are the latest social networks on the scene to be heavily embraced, yet by 2025 there will be a plethora of new social networks along with more apps and connected devices enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT). The information exchanged will flex to best fit these channels and the context within which they are used.
In the future, the average consumer will have five or more personal, connected devices, with several always available. And, the IoT and artificial intelligence driven tools will add additional sensors that communicate with these devices, allowing for new services that bridge people, devices and data across new media.
By 2025, businesses need to be equipped so that operations are friendly to new types of technology. Technology is moving faster than the 12-month budget planning cycle, so you need a business that is built to absorb new technologies on their release schedules.
CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS WILL EXPERIENCE PROFOUND CHANGE
With various devices that send and receive messages all day, consumers will want to manage the noise level. And, there is no reason that consumers will start to tolerate a one-size-fits-all approach to business- to-consumer communication.
Customers of financial services businesses will want to be in control of the frequency and intensity of the interactions they have with companies. Sure, there is still a place for notifications when it comes to reaching maximum daily account transaction limits, but people won’t tolerate over-sharing. Some bank customers want to see a record of all credit card transactions for the month, others are happy with a summary statement. And others may prefer a single tweet, direct Facebook message or SMS-sized notification with just the amount and due date for payment. And most are demanding the ability for fast, real-time two-way interactions on company platforms through chat bot technology.
The BMO Bank of Montreal, one of the top five banks in Canada, has recently implemented a new mobile onboarding customer journey that enables consumers to open a BMO Personal Banking account on a smartphone in as quick as eight minutes from start to finish. In 2025, the possibilities will expand, and successful communicators will learn those preferences and act accordingly.
In 2025, unhappy customers will take their bad experiences viral faster than ever. They’ll turn a corporate communication failure into a new meme that pervades hundreds of social networks and billions of potential customers just by shouting something from their brand new 360-degree 3D videocasting device.
Businesses now need to consider how they will manage to communicate with the right frequency, intensity, and style. The technology will be there to communicate across all of the channels constantly. Considerate businesses that resist the temptation to over-communicate will create the strongest bonds with customers.
INFORMATION AVAILABILITY WILL EVOLVE
As more businesses and social networks share information, the sensible solution is to view information as an on-demand utility. When much of the same information can be accessed in different ways, customers will expect all information to be available on any channel, even retroactively. The business and social networks, apps, and corporate systems will be expected to get any information out to any form factor at any time from the client’s very first interactions.
This market shift will create a need for a major overhaul of archiving. We archive communications, which are discreet and fairly easy to identify. However, as devices fragment, social networks expand, and consumers change context frequently, the burden to re-create or reformat will fall on your company rather than the consumer. For instance, banks should deliver things like dynamic account statements that illustrate the customers’ monthly spending habits using interactive charts and graphs – on their channel of choice. The archiving landscape will undergo the most profound change of any infrastructure technology in the coming decade. This change will largely be unnoticed by the consumers—should it be done well.
CONSTANTLY ASSESSING THE CHANNELS YOU’RE DEDICATED TO
Everyone gets excited when new channels are added. But nobody gets excited about removing technology from a portfolio. In fact, many businesspeople get hostile about removing old channels from the mix, even if they are underperforming, difficult to maintain, or rarely used. A social media platform catching on can go from no users to a critical channel with 50 million users in less than a month.
While the number of channels will increase, the budget to execute will likely remain constant.
The businesses of today that will be successful communicators for the future are nimble when it comes to adding the new communication channels their clients, prospects and employees are using. They are constantly assessing and learning from the up and coming successful start-ups and fintechs on how the customer experience can be enhanced, not only from the moment they come on board, but throughout their entire customer journey. BFM