COVID-19 disrupted decades of consumer banking habits, client needs, and expectations—practically overnight.

In a recent study by IDC Financial Insights, nearly six in 10 consumers said they purposely avoided in-person banking due to the pandemic.

COVID-19 drove customers to explore new methods to meet their needs—most notably digital contact centers staffed by remote employees. Many banks, however, were ill-equipped to handle this. 

According to IDC’s 2020 Consumer Banking Channel Preference survey, customers who opened a new account through a contact center rated their experience as the least satisfying compared to in-branch and other channels. 

To survive both the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, the challenge is elevating the contact center experience to that of in-branch, online, or mobile. Businesses focused on implementing digital technologies and processes—particularly those that allow employees to work and serve customers from anywhere—are best positioned to meet this challenge.

Here are 3 key takeaways for financial institutions in the new normal:

1. Build a workplace that meets the demands of today’s changing landscape

Whether it’s a second wave of the virus or a new challenge altogether, meeting customers’ changing needs means giving employees the right resources to do so under any circumstance. 

“COVID was not our first remote exercise. [In West Texas], we constantly have tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, things like that, that will take locations out for who knows how long,” said Erick Owens, AimBank’s SVP of Information Technology and Security.

AimBank implemented RingCentral to mitigate such risks and ensure that digital communication channels between branches and customers remain open, regardless of what’s happening outside the bank.

Modernizing Communications in Banks
See how AimBank enabled remote work and saved significantly on costs by choosing unified communications.

2. Build a strong digital growth strategy while keeping the power of personal touch

Technology is ever-changing, and as it evolves, consumer expectations shift. As new technology is rolled out, however, the customer experience must be maintained across each and every new channel in order to maintain satisfaction. 

“The problem—or the limitation—is that [new channels are often] not yet connected to each other,” Silva says. Such disconnection creates silos and challenges in sharing customer data across channels, reducing the seamlessness of interactions. 

To counter this, banks need to implement tools that integrate across channels, seamlessly sharing data across all service platforms.

3. Build new ways to empower and motivate employees virtually

While customer satisfaction may be the ultimate goal, businesses can’t afford to overlook employee engagement and satisfaction, as these metrics are closely tied to productivity and performance. 

But empowering and motivating employees is yet another challenge that banks face when workers shift from in-branch to remote work.

Owens describes how RingCentral’s unified communications enables AimBank’s remote staff to easily switch from instant messaging conversations to deeper video chats. 

“You get a water cooler conversation or (the ability to virtually) gather around the conference table and hash out whatever the issue is. You can sit down and figure it out,” he said.

Learn more about how unified communications help financial institutions meet the needs of today’s employees and customers.