Everyone in the financial services industry should be an innovator
By Irina Ghose
Massive shifts in consumer behaviours in recent times are forcing financial services institutions (FSI) to accelerate towards a digital frontier. A recent report indicates that emerging markets in Asia, particularly India, have seen a rapid spike of up to 60% in contactless payments. Today, customers want all the necessary information in one place – usually on a smartphone or on a tablet – to make informed decisions.
Faster, higher, stronger: Fundamentally, there are four areas of change that FSI firms need to embrace at scale: cutting edge technology, data and advanced analytics, customer centricity and artificial intelligence (AI) supported by rapid re-engineering and upskilling of people, processes, and culture. Consider the case of a company which is using digital collaboration platforms to modernise customer servicing to ensure seamless experiences. It uses AI-enabled speech services, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and document intelligence technologies like OCR and form recognition extensively to reduce operational overheads and enhance throughput.
Powerful digital front ends: Companies have started using intelligent chatbots to not only address repetitive servicing queries but also as a sales channel. These bots help customers and prospects with different types of banking transactions, credit checks, and apply for various financial products, including loans, forex, credit cards in addition to real-time relationship manager assistance. More advanced players in the industry, such as one of India’s leading banks, have completely pivoted to a unified digital presence where the customer can interact with the entire offerings of the firm.
All these digital fronts are also producing newer and more richer data sets. These datasets will form the basis for future business endeavours and provide competitive advantage. While most FSIs face the challenge of integrating insights from unstructured data and external sources, AI tools can optimise the process by analysing up to 100% of data—an untapped resource for firms.
Another related advancement is the rise of industry-specific clouds that can provide FSIs with a focused end-to-end solution for accelerated value creation. They help in unlocking comprehensive customer insights and turning those insights to action through pre-built models and templates.
High impact customer experiences: With customers seeking personalised intelligent services, the attention is on “engagement with impact.” Time-starved customers are now able to quickly distinguish great experiences from mediocre ones and will continue to demand seamless experiences across various touch points, from call centers to in-app services. They want intuitive, empathetic service that can pick up right where they left off at the last enquiry, while also being able to trust that all the information remains secure.
Managing cultural evolution: The front, middle, and back offices in a financial service business must collaborate to break the silos between departments to streamline data transparency and processes. This begins with prioritising collaboration within the organisation.
Great culture does not just boost internal operations, employee morale and loyalty but shows up as better customer service, engagement and better net promoter scores. If technology is the enabler for change, culture is its key driver. As FSI leaders embrace digital adoption, innovative customer solutions, and more efficient big-data utilisation through AI, the industry will grow from strength to strength.
The writer is executive director – Cloud Solutions, Microsoft India