As governments and communities across the world work together to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the bulk of the world’s business and households are simultaneously facing huge changes.  Bank executives, specifically, are managing through not one but two major challenges.

  1. Ensuring teams can continue to operate as effectively as possible – providing the guidance and the tools to operate the business largely remotely.
  2. Managing the needs of their customers (individuals and businesses), most of whom are bracing for potential financial hardship or already confronting unexpected changes in their financial lives.

For many banks, this second concern is more complicated than the first.  Many customers, whose comfort with financial products may be constrained to begin with, need reassurance and information as the news headlines introduce more fear than most have experienced in their lifetimes.

McKinsey published a paper this month called Leading a consumer bank through the coronavirus pandemic,”  offering an excellent prescription for helping banks through these tough times.

“Delivering on customer expectations while adapting the operating model to the reality of the current pandemic will be an unprecedented challenge for banks. In our view, it is highly important for banks to make their genuine concern for their customers clear and to make customer interactions with the bank as easy as possible.”

A large portion of McKinsey’s concrete recommendations center on  the urgent directive in the current environment for banks to invest in relationship-based banking that “shows customers that you care for them.”  What does that look like?  McKinsey outlines the following: :

“Start reaching out to clients proactively…

“Create opportunities for human interactions for distraught customers who just want to talk through their concerns…”

“Establish help lines for customers who need support during remote (mobile or internet) transactions.”

“Serve [customers] in unexpected ways. Especially during a crisis…finding that their bank is prepared to help in unexpected ways will go a long way toward reassuring them.”

Investing in Relationship-Based Banking

If money were no object, bank executives could assign relationship managers to spend whatever time necessary with each and every customer not only to provide counsel and empathy, but also to educate them about how financial products can help them through the crisis.

Unfortunately, it’s unthinkable in today’s reality for banks to hire and train relationship managers to support every customer in their massive retail and SME portfolios. Instead, leading banks are investing in new digital processes and platforms for providing reassurance, counsel, and two-way, personalized experiences for all of their customers.

Conversational Account Management (CAM) is a growing category of digital solutions in the banking industry that combines technology with human intelligence to create engaging and personalized two-way mobile conversations with bank customers at massive scale.  CAM gives banks a warm and personal – yet scalably digital – way to engage every one of their customers with information, attention, and care.

CAM allows banks to proactively establish long-term communication with each customer via mobile channels like SMS or WhatsApp, creating a foundation of relationship between the bank and its customers outside of any sales moments — just like good human relationship managers would do.  CAM gives banks a direct connection with the customer to deliver effective product information and education.  It gives them a way to scalably listen to their customers and create warmly differentiated customer experiences that set them apart from typical mass market retail banking environments — without having to hire.

In today’s COVID-19 environment, Conversational Account Management is giving banks the means to communicate directly with every customer in two-way conversations that are both personal and scalable.  Banks today are using CAM at the center of their Covid-19 strategies to:

  • Proactively communicate key updates on products and policies,
  • Scalably address questions and concerns without the need of call center or branch staff
  • Minimize surprises to customers in rapidly changing environments,
  • Encourage fraud-prevention measures,
  • Support customers in the adoption and usage of digital channels
  • Give customers space to share their experiences and financial concerns
  • Establish ongoing brand presence in a high-value and non-sales setting, ensuring their customers know the bank is with them, at their side.

CAM allows banks to scalably invest in stronger relationships with their customers.  And in both good and bad market conditions, stronger customer relationships mean higher lifetime values in banking portfolios, with measurable benefits that include increased loan uptake, savings deposits, and digital transaction growth.  Most importantly in banks’ immediate realities, investing in relationship-based communication drives much-needed trust and retention during a highly emotionally challenging time.

The Path Forward is Paved With…Relationships=

No one can predict the post-COVID-19 future but many believe there will be a new normal in which physical visits to stores – and banks -remain diminished.  This puts continued pressure on bank executives to find effective ways to build relationships with their customers in an ever-increasing digital world.

As McKinsey emphasizes in their report, the winners in digital banking tomorrow will be those who invest today, to accelerate out of the downturn: “Banks that encourage and support customers now will be well positioned to increase the use of digital channels in the future.

Conversational Account Management is a growing part of that digital future.  CAM allows banks to establish digital customer communication that delivers not just the quality but also the unprecedented scale of human connection and empathy required by situations like today.

Nearly every banker we have talked to across the globe during the pandemic is focused on the exact right thing:  Keeping their employees safe and supporting their customers through hard times.

We urge bank executives to consider how Conversational Account Management strategies can help them scale the human connection customers crave in their financial lives.  We’re here to help.

About Juntos:
Financial Institutions around the world use the Juntos Conversational Account Management (CAM) platform to proactively engage their customers at scale.  Juntos combines advanced technology with human intelligence to create engaging, one-to-one, long-term conversations with consumers in high-impact digital channels like WhatsApp, SMS, and Facebook Messenger.  Banks across four continents have used Juntos to power Conversational Account Management with millions of customers in 26 languages, driving increased uptake and retention of financial products.  Juntos’ mission is to build enduring and trusted relationships between banks and their customers to make financial services simpler, warmer, and more successful.  Learn more at https://juntosglobal.com.

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