Jan 28 2022

How the Pandemic Changed Digital Banking Forever — Or Did It?

Increasingly, consumers are choosing to use both physical and digital channels and expecting a more humanized and personalized banking experience.

In the early months of the pandemic, banks of all sizes saw a spike in digital banking as many physical branches were shuttered and in-person interactions were limited. Although consumer preferences had started trending toward digital interactions before COVID-19, the pandemic has escalated that change.

Even as physical locations have begun reopening, many customers are opting for digital tools to handle standard transactions. For instance, Wells Fargo reported seeing a 35 percent increase in remote check deposits and 50 percent growth in online wire transfers.

Looking beyond the pandemic, it’s hard to say whether this new preference for digital banking will stick. The answer, according to a recent Deloitte survey, is “very much context dependent.” 

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Digital Options Should Include a Human Touch

When it comes to simple transactions, it seems likely that most consumers will continue using digital channels, but for complex services, “many surveyed customers will want in-person interactions,” the survey found. 

Also, according to the survey, younger consumers are less satisfied with their current institutions, more at risk of switching and more open to options like digital-only banks. Yet they, too, demonstrate a preference for both digital and physical channels. 

If banks expect customers to continue these newly developed digital behaviors, they will need to improve such tools as chatbots by humanizing them. The Deloitte survey noted that, regardless of the banking channel consumers use, “one factor continues to remain important for them: the human touch.” 

READ MORE: Learn how banks can create more human connections with their customers.

Consumers Have Changing Expectations of Digital Banking

The survey notes that many customers, especially younger ones who have shown a willingness to use both physical and digital services, have altered their expectations. “It may become increasingly normal for consumers to engage in multichannel journeys,” according to the survey.

There are many forms of interaction where consumers might use their laptops to connect with a chatbot or log in to an app on their phones. Some of those cases might also require an in-person conversation with a loan officer or customer service representative. According to the survey, “The transition from one channel to another is not seamless at present.” 

For many banks, digital and physical channels are not integrated. This forces consumers to provide the same information repeatedly, which wastes time and is frustrating. Banks seeking a competitive edge could take advantage of this by implementing technology systems that enable a more integrated exchange of data to simplify the customer experience.

LEARN MORE: Find out why automation is crucial to modernization for financial institutions.

Banks Continue to Plan for Digital Transformation

For banks seeking to humanize their digital offerings, the survey offered some suggestions. It highlighted the need to humanize consumers’ digital experiences and make digital banking channels “more intelligent, empathetic, and quick to resolve customer issues.” 

The survey cited artificial intelligence as a tool for humanizing the digital experience. “Training AI models to understand the range of emotions that humans experience and adapt their approach can make consumer interactions with these digital channels much more personal and human-like.” And bank employees can help to increase customers’ use of digital tools by teaching consumers how to use them.

In addition to humanizing the digital experience, the survey recommends personalizing it by targeting promotions and special offers more directly to the individual. That level of personalization is enabled through the collection and use of the customer data that banks have at their disposal. However, the survey points out that many banks “remain challenged by legacy and disparate systems that do not talk to each other. Cloud platforms can alleviate this pain point by connecting the data silos and enable banks to offer personalization-as-a-service.”

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