Moving finance online
Surveys show that the current recession is increasing debt amongst Britons. Research shows that nearly half (46%) of the population have some sort of non-mortgage debt or arrears, with those aged between 25-34 struggling most with their finances.
Against this backdrop what is interesting is that more and more people want to be able to manage their debts, and repay money online or via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. A survey carried out by YouGov for Intelligent Environments found that 25% of debtors preferred to pay online, double the number that wanted to use the face-to-face channel. And 43% believed that online and mobile collection methods would help them pay off their debts faster than communicating by letter.
So finance companies need to ensure that their digital channels are able to cope with this growing number of consumers, providing the right services and information to help them manage their debts and repayments. Not only will this improve customer service, but will lower operating costs as people will be able to access their accounts themselves, without resorting to expensive channels such as letter or face-to-face meetings.
From Eptica’s experience here are five key areas that finance companies need to focus on, in order to ensure that online customer service delivers real benefits:
1. Easy to find information
Particularly when it comes to complex financial products, customers want to be able to find information quickly and easily. Web self-service systems make answers available in a straightforward, fast manner, without customers having to manually search for information.
Customers expect the same information and answers whatever channel they contact you by. Ensure you have a centralised knowledgebase that spans the web, mobile, contact centre and face-to-face channels to make sure that information is consistent across all of them.
3. Talk your customers’ language
Like a lot of industries, finance has its own jargon. However don’t expect your customers to use these specialised terms – let them ask questions in plain English and use meaning-based search to automatically point them to the right information.
4. Full audit trails
In a regulated industry such as finance, it is imperative that there is a full record of all customer contact. Adopt a system that documents all customer interactions, including the questions they ask across all channels in order to provide a full audit trail to meet regulations such as Treating Customers Fairly (TCF).
5. Simple escalation procedures
Customers may start on one channel, such as online or mobile, but then want to speak to an adviser or send an email. Make sure that your system makes it simple to escalate and move across channels without losing the customer’s history.
With the amount of Britons in debt predicted to rise, it is imperative that companies provide a comprehensive, integrated set of channels to best deliver service to them in 2012 and beyond.