The COVID-19 pandemic may have taken our industry by surprise, but the changes it brought, especially to digital banking, are likely permanent.
In our new reality, it's not only important for your institution, accountholders, and potential customers or members to know what digital tools are available to them, but what can be done with those tools.
"Mobile and online banking need more than just tools to conduct transactions; they must evolve as customer or member service tools," said Bill Handel, general manager and chief economist for Raddon®, a Fiserv company. "Online chat and virtual meetings will become simpler and likely part of the fundamental offerings of successful organizations."
Here are five things you can do today to create stronger digital connections:
1. Create Awareness
Perform an analysis of digital adoption in your accountholder base. How many are using online banking and/or mobile? How many make deposits using remote capture? If you offer personal financial management, how many are taking advantage of it?
Knowing who isn't using digital tools is equally as important as knowing who is. Look at usage across demographic groups and see what you can learn from active users as well as those who are slow to adopt.
Based on this data, you can create targeted campaigns to increase awareness of the tools you offer and their features and benefits. You can also create online training programs for accountholders to reintroduce or reinforce how to use digital tools.
2. Understand Security
There's been a marked increase in cybercrime during the pandemic, which makes aggressive security management even more critical – for your institution and your customers or members.
Analyze and revise systems, data security and recovery to protect your organization. As financial institutions quickly adapted to a work-from-home model, they faced complications in acquiring the necessary hardware and managing remote data security such as virtual private networks, firewalls and remote infrastructure management. Now is the time to address hardware and access needs for future work-from-home situations.
To protect accountholders, review, revise and communicate minimum security requirements for online and mobile banking access, including supported browser versions and hardware. Today, most smartphones and tablets come with advanced device-level security like touch ID and face ID. Device-level security coupled with application-level logon ID and security code further enhance digital banking security.
Encourage your accountholders to use the most recent versions of leading browsers, which are often updated to address security issues. Accountholders should also use current operating systems and install updates on personal computers and hand-held devices. Encourage them to enable automatic updates, which makes it easier to stay current.
Casual digital users are likely to become everyday users when branch visits are limited or unavailable. As less frequent users access their money digitally, expect a spike in call center activity due to expired passwords and trouble resetting passwords. Also, regulators are requiring institutions to tighten logon and password criteria and enforce upper/lowercase, special (or restricted) characters and minimum length.
Security updates in browsers, appropriate rules for logon ID and security codes, along with multifactored authentication, enable a secure experience for your accountholders.
As the pandemic subsides and we return to some semblance of normalcy, there's no doubt some changes will be with us for a while or even permanently.
3. Leverage Alerts
Alerts are a powerful tool to help accountholders manage their money, and there are a variety of them available depending on your online banking platform and account processing system. The most common are email and text alerts in two categories: security alerts, including logon ID change, password change and email address change, and money alerts, such as high/low balance, deposit, check clear and loan payment due. Beyond those uses, alerts can be a valuable way to communicate branch closures, planned downtime and even upcoming community events.
Actionable alerts are an emerging option for financial institutions. Processed in real time from a single alert database, they enable accountholders to take quick, appropriate action from a consistent push notification across multiple channels.
4. Maximize Chat and Video
Secure chat technology has improved dramatically in recent years aided by integrated artificial intelligence (AI). Chat is ubiquitous for product and service support across most industries, and adoption continues to increase in the financial services space.
The benefits of chat are many. Using AI, chat bots can handle rudimentary tasks and perform a seamless handoff to a service representative for more complex issues. The service representative can support multiple chat sessions simultaneously, and chat sessions can leave a documented audit trail and are helpful if there is a language barrier.
Videoconferencing is also finding increased usage in financial services. Virtual meetings can help accountholders feel more connected to the institution, providing the high-touch, personal experience many consumers still want and expect. Technology varies widely, and security should be paramount when selecting a platform to support virtual meetings. However, as videoconferencing has skyrocketed during the pandemic, platform providers have continually identified and addressed security issues.
5. Look at the Long Game
All financial institutions have disaster recovery plans, but those plans often are designed to address a local, isolated incident and focus on system continuity. The pandemic revealed a plethora of other aspects of business continuity, and now is the time to update your plan to address them. Hardware and secure access top the list, but also consider communication channels with staff and accountholders, as well as workflow and processes in a work-from-home scenario.
Now is a good time for financial institutions that run their account processing system in-house to reassess their operating model. What personnel challenges did the pandemic create? Can or should the core or other critical systems be moved to an outsourced environment?
As the pandemic subsides and we return to some semblance of normalcy, there’s no doubt some changes will be with us for a while or even permanently. Start now to ease your accountholders into our new reality, creating stronger digital connections along the way.