Putting the e-customer first

Tuesday 10.05.2016 Christian Walter
Christian Walter

Christian Walter ist Geschäftsführer und Redaktionsleiter von swiss made software. Bis Ende 2010 arbeitete er als Fachjournalist für das ICT-Magazin Netzwoche, publizierte zuletzt aber auch im Swiss IT Magazin, der Computerworld sowie inside-it.

Even today, e-branches still have much room for improvement when it comes to user experience. Service levels vary immensely — especially in the financial services industry. With its live engagement suite, unblu offers the perfect solution.

unblu combines the energy of face-to-face interaction with the vast reach of the internet. (© StockRocket/Fotolia)

The incentive of lower costs and better availability is driving a growing shift towards e-branches in various industries, including the financial services sector. In spite of a massive drive towards digitization, companies need to implement innovative ideas to maintain close relationships with their customers. Through “live engagement”, customers receive online access to real-life advisers, through chat (text, audio, video) or co-browsing – where two people in different locations browse together in the same window (see box below). This combination of technologies makes it possible to interact with the customer in almost the same way as in a physical meeting.

The potential goes much further than merely improving telephone support and self-service portals. This use case is of course important – it allowed the Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB) to reduce the duration of service calls by half. But the real goal of live engagement is to move client interaction out of physical branches and into the digital world. This creates an opportunity to increase the number of appointments, upsell while providing support, and provide direct assistance when filling out forms. The most important thing is to select the right tools to ensure the customer feels well taken care of.

Let us also examine the example of digital sales at the BLKB, a Swiss regional bank. The goal here was to encourage existing customers to invest or re-invest in complex financial products. Traditionally, the bank would market its products through brochures and by post – despite receiving the single-figure response rates that have long been accepted as the industry standard. The bank decided to conduct a split test based on unblu’s co-browsing solution. Group A were invited to visit the branch using the traditional letter and telephone approach. Group B received a telephone invitation to a co-browsing appointment. While only 20 percent of those in group A could be persuaded to come into the branch for a meeting, 90 percent of group B were happy to meet online.

The convenience is an obvious benefit – the customer does not need to come into the branch and can be helped at off-peak times. Customer satisfaction with the new solution was measured following the meeting. 90 percent of participants said they would recommend digital consultations to others.

Adviser time

In addition to the improved sales performance, there is also better utilization of the adviser’s time if they are working online. Rather than being limited to just a few daily appointments with extensive traveling time, the adviser can now be active during flexible hours from virtually anywhere.

Co-browsing can also be used to promote the sale of additional services. Let us take a look at Xoom. This company specializes in helping individuals transfer money from the US to other countries. Its business model is based around the fact that transferring money abroad using most US banks is complicated and expensive. It makes sense that many immigrants use Xoom to send money home.

Many of Xoom’s customers are not very technically proficient and are therefore more likely to rely on telephone assistance. But in addition to support, there is also an opportunity to upsell. Positive support experiences can help generate additional sales, so one of Xoom’s concepts was to turn a one-off transfer into a standing order. “Why don’t we automate these transfers? Let me sort that out for you right now.” An adviser can naturally say things like this in the conversation and offer real value to the customer. The results were very positive and resulted in an above-average take-up of such offers. This enabled the company to multiply its profit per customer transaction.

Another use case is supporting customers in completing complex online forms. “Just five simple steps and you’re done!” – have we not all encountered those incredibly long insurance forms with helpful instructions like this? We are usually fed up before we have even started. If the insurer is lucky, the frustrated customer will eventually make their way into a local branch. American insurance company AON took on the challenge.

With unblu’s help, AON transferred this exact process to the e-branch, where the adviser is able to take the time to personally help customers as part of their consultation. Co-browsing makes it possible for the customer to watch the adviser as they complete the form together, and all the customer has to do at the end is sign. This process not only eliminates the nuisance of complaints due to incorrect completion of forms; it also increases customer satisfaction and thus opens the door to upselling.

All these scenarios share the advantage that the customer does not need to travel and business can be done at off-peak times or from home or the hotel. The customer does not even have to smarten themselves up for a visit to their local branch.

Conforming to regulations

Particularly in the financial sector, it is of vital importance that engagement tools are secure and conform to the rules set by bank regulators. This is why unblu is available for installation both on-site and as a cloud solution. In the first set-up, all data is always stored on the client’s servers. Systems that have already been audited can continue to be used. Customers can be assured that unblu satisfies all relevant regulatory requirements, such as PCI, PII, and the EU Data Protection Directive.

The application generally works like this: A customer is browsing a website and has a question. They are invited to an online chat via a proactive dialogue. The built-in preview function shows the adviser what part of the website the customer is looking at, giving the adviser the necessary context to provide appropriate advice. After that, upon mutual agreement, a co-browsing session can be initiated. The customer sees a separate mouse pointer that represents the adviser’s movements on the screen. The interaction is further supported by chat, a file transfer function, and the option to set up an audio/video connection.

Individual modules can be activated as needed in the unblu enterprise solution. This applies to the technical activation of a capability, but is also reflected in the license model; a real advantage, especially for large companies with multiple business units and different use cases.


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