Guest blog: The balance of tech and the human touch

Guest blog by Alan Newman, Financial Services Business Development Director, Paragon Customer Communications.

With the emergence of new Fintech technologies and shifting attitudes towards how members interact with building societies, the industry is embracing change by personalising the services they offer. But what two actions do building societies need to address to deliver a superior individualised experience for its members? Alan Newman, Financial Services Business Development Director at Paragon Customer Communications, shares his thoughts.

As consumers are increasingly embracing digital technology, building societies are having to adapt strategies and adopt previously unexplored channels.

Similarly, the instability of the pandemic has undeniably impacted on members, and in turn, the overall institutional financial services landscape. Maintaining stakeholder trust, including the trust of board members has become a priority for many institutions in a fluctuating market characterised by economic downturns.

In an increasingly challenging environment, building societies now more than ever must continue to display their value to all members and instil confidence by providing critical insights and leveraging technology to communicate those views.

While the traditional forms of engagement remain important – be that meetings or conference calls and events, amongst others – digital technology offers an opportunity to more rapidly and efficiently provide strategic views and forecasts.

This acceleration of digital transformation undoubtedly offers unparalleled opportunities for growth; however, it will not come without significant adjustments.

The financial services industry is a sector traditionally known for its conservatism and reliance on in-person interactions. Embracing digital advancement, therefore, will require a fundamental change in the way firms operate in order to create convenient, personalised, data-intuitive front office products and services, each underpinned by effective back office systems.

While there are certainly many underlying drivers that can lead a firm’s transition towards positive personalised member experiences through digital channels, there are two fundamental areas that, without attention, could broaden the gap between expectations and delivering truly progressive change.

Personalise and customise

Emerging technologies have lowered the barriers to entry for many firms seeking to provide personalised services, providing a low-cost way to embed hyper-personalisation into their strategic operating models.

Leveraging fintech such as artificial intelligence (AI) – a technology expected to power 95% of all customer interactions by 2025 – and Internet of Things (IoT) enabled technologies have the transformational capabilities to deliver personalisation in an era increasingly focused on heavily data-rich customer communications management (CCM) delivery models.

AI’s ability to seamlessly collate and accurately interpret large swathes of transactional and other data can aid firms in understanding their customers behaviours and help to provide a superior experience.

While, at the same time, allowing firms to maintain consistent contact with members by automating daily customer communication tasks such as financial statements, business activity reports and forecasts.

Indeed, data driven insights and decision making, underpinned by fintech and big data, are critical for firms seeking to shift from product push to customer pull strategies.

Balancing technology and the human touch

Despite its apparent value, nonetheless, the propensity of many firms to ‘over-automate’ their communication strategies can lead to greater disconnect and a poor overall customer experience.

Firms, therefore, must be careful to not lose sight of the fundamental value and critical need for human-to-human interactions with members.

This prerequisite for a unified balance between human and machine interactions has resulted in the advent of hybrid traditional and robo-advisor strategies. By blending the ideal mix of technology and human expertise, firms can cost-effectively provide low-cost automated services to the masses – be that “direct execution” platforms, or "digital advice platforms".

By combing industry-leading services, together with advanced capabilities in data and analytics, creative communications and experience, as well as technology and automation – building societies can aim to create balance between human and digital communications and offer enhanced customer experience to their members.

For more information: Contact Alan.newman@paragon-cc.co.uk or visit https://www.paragon-cc.com/en-gb 

The views, opinions and positions expressed within guest blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the BSA.