“My own experience is, use the tools that are out there. Use the digital world. But never lose sight of the need to reach out and talk to other people who don’t share your view. Listen to them and see if you can find a way to compromise”. Colin Powell
Dear readers, last week, I shared the perception of a segment of bank customers, the Senior Citizens, on the current banking practices. It was done on a satirical note, with some exaggeration, to bring home the feelings of unease from these people. Although we are in a new revolution of digital banking, powered by the internet, artificial intelligence and big data analytics, there are ways of managing these customers’ apprehensions, for a seamless banking relationship. This week, we will examine the brighter side of things as we explore the combination of digital banking practices with the realities on the ground to get a win-win situation with senior citizens, the bank and bank staff. Everyone will grow up to be a senior citizen one day
Know Your Customer (KYC)
Knowing customers has always been a big deal for bankers. During the account-opening process, we do not just tick the boxes only for regulatory purposes. Ever since the introduction of banking, bankers have ensured that their customers were scrutinized to prove their identities, residences, businesses, contacts and so on. Postal addresses used to be tested with welcome letters. Nowadays, KYC has evolved into biometric verification, GPS locations, internet contacts, and so on. These are very positive strides. However, under our circumstances where many citizens are illiterates and some too aged to deal with virtual banking, such apprehensions are genuine. I recommend that staff training should include soft skills for handling all categories of customers. In this case, bank staff should acclimatize themselves with the culture of the community within which they are located and use their banking software to segment the senior citizens to know their needs, and expectations. Last week’s quotes included a paramount chief who finds himself queueing in front of the ATM to receive dirty notes. Culture matters! Some also have idle funds for placement, both pensioners and business-people. The KYC concept should be taken to another level – Know Your Community and Know Your Culture.
For the customers who used to frequent the bank for financial advice, they should be made aware that virtual banking does not mean that they are restricted to chatting with machines. Managers must identify these people, call them regularly when their accounts are inactive and book appointments to meet them face to face, advise, and encourage them to continue their financial dealings with the bank. With the appropriate communication either through telephone or video chats, laced with empathy and good listening skills, they can be brought back into the loop. A senior citizen who receives a telephone call from the branch manager would feel elated and honoured. A few months ago, I received a call from my Relationship Manager, and with our usual chats and empathy on the effects of covid on my business, I felt good that for once, someone thought about me and my business.
Positivity in Crisis – Boosting Mobile Banking March 19, 2018
In boosting digital sales like mobile banking, the first reaction from customers is: “What’s in it for me?” It is a simple question, but one that is at the core of successful mobile banking marketing campaigns. Why should your customers care? Why should they pay attention? And (most importantly) why should they try mobile banking?
Even though we are in a pandemic era, answering these questions (with a reason other than “it’s more convenient”) can elevate a bank’s marketing campaign from one that raises “awareness” to one that drives adoption. To drive adoption, you need to raise awareness of the benefits, educate customers on how-to use your new tech, and give customers a reason to change now. How can this be done effectively? This isn’t to say older customers won’t adopt new tech. In fact, the majority are interested in banking online and digital tools. But they need more help than younger customers — and often a bigger incentive to change. You need different tactics. Most SMS have no follow-up holiness to interact with.
Powerful Soft Tools to Promote Digital Banking
I am sure you are all aware of how difficult it is to change peoples’ attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and so on. Why? Because while your tech is convenient, change isn’t. how about the following?
- Empowerment of front-line staff to be digital advocates: The perfect opportunity to promote mobile banking is when customers visit your branch. You can pull them out of a busy line and walk them through how to complete their transactions digitally.
- Confidence: This means your frontline staff need to be confident in using your mobile app, and recommend it to customers. There needs to be an active buy-in from staff, who may previously might have been skeptical of digital technology previously. This buy-in encourages staff to be confident and more tolerant of queries from customers.
- Active Listening Skills: Do you really hear what people are really saying? Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others. Clearly, listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. By becoming a better listener, you can improve your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. What’s more, you’ll avoid conflict and misunderstandings. All of these are necessary for success in getting customers to adopt the bank’s digital services.
- Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness . Understanding your own personal style of communicating will go a long way toward helping you to create good and lasting impressions with others.
In digital or virtual banking, the fact that one does not see the customer does not make the job nicer and easier. This is the best time for staff to enhance their communication skills, not just face to face or body language or listening, but rather perfecting it in a virtual environment where you cannot see the customer face to face.
Points To Ponder
Dear readers, whether traditional or virtual banking, nothing is cast in stone because as human institutions dealing with human beings through technology, we are all bound to face challenges. These challenges should rather spur you on to challenge the status quo in your environment and develop out-of-the box solutions where practicable and legal. I leave you with these points to ponder over.
Are you a manager or supervisor in your bank? Let us share some ideas in this pandemic era where some of the new customer/client log-ons may be vulnerable to risk. As a supervisor, I am sure you are aware that risk management lies in every employee’s domain and no role should be under-rated. Let us look at the following:
- Conduct regular zoom meetings to discuss your customer complaints log. Are they real issues or problems encountered by outliers? Remember that the outliers in a group are the source of inventions and creativity.
- Check the trend of new customer digital log-ons and categorize them into various segments. Check their customer information to get an idea of their background, using artificial intelligence and prepare for them.
- If your bank keeps recorded messages of customer complaints to staff or call centers, watch out for the responses being given by your staff. If not, quickly have a week-end zoom meeting to interact with them and demonstrate the best standards. This is not the time for blame games and “scape-goatism”. Creative skills are needed at this time.
- Keep customers posted always. Many customers are multi-banked for a good reason, but should that be so? Sometimes, the reason is the lack of responsiveness or empathy from one bank. Customers therefore “vote with their feet”, just by using another bank’s digital app!! There are numerous stories of unresponsive situations where bank systems are shut down without customers’ prior knowledge. This prior information is helpful especially when the bank plans to deliberately shut down its systems either to perform system maintenance withing stipulated time frames, system upgrades etc. When adequate notice is given, customers sometimes perform their intended transactions before the advertised period and prevent any inconvenience or embarrassment.
- Regular messages and security tips in respect of the COVID 19 pandemic. Simple description of new products with emphasis on its benefits. Messages on fraud awareness and how customers can avoid digital banking fraud, especially mobile money. Relevant brief motivational messages are also beneficial.
The intention of this article is not to scare you but to empower you and your staff to be in control and treat all customers fairly. I wish you a fruitful digital banking collaboration with your senior citizens.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of two books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.