Effective technology, communications create certainty in crisis

The COVID-19 crisis has heaped pressure on businesses across the globe, forcing them to show resilience in the face of uncertainty.

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This has meant organisations have had to step up communications with customers but, for many, this hasn’t gone according to plan. According to research by Pegasystems, half Australian organisations lost customers due to failings in their communications in the early days of the pandemic - a damning figure.

"Business leaders must constantly look at improving existing infrastructure and processes.”

Unfortunately, the outlook is just as grim for the financial services industry with 46 per cent of businesses surveyed indicating they believe they too lost customers from failed communications. Many of these institutions played a critical role in the pandemic by offering customers financial support in the form of loan repayment deferrals and regular check-ins.

With remote working the new normal, it’s imperative financial services employees are empowered by the right technology to collaborate from anywhere, ensuring the standard of customer service or employee productivity is not sacrificed.

The vast majority (84 per cent) of banking organisations surveyed felt they already had the existing infrastructure needed to enable its workforce to be productive and efficient while working remotely. But based on outputs, the pandemic has revealed digital transformation efforts haven’t gone far enough - perhaps due to a “set and forget” mentality.

It’s important to remember digital transformation is an “always-on” journey, not a one-stop shop. Business leaders must constantly look at improving existing infrastructure and processes.

Financial services are racing to accelerate digital transformation initiatives and make up for lost time to ensure they are fully prepared for the next crisis – whatever that may be. Failure to do so will result in agitated and frustrated customers who will ultimately take their business elsewhere.

The effectiveness of organisations during fluid situations such as a pandemic comes down to the ability to adjust operational levers and realign budgets at a moment’s notice. Examples include:

  • Reprioritising workflows for specific customer segments, industries and locations can minimise disruption and more effectively utilise existing resources.
  • Quickly developing new applications with low code development tools can help teams assist clients for new government-supported schemes and optimise the redistribution of work.
  • Scaling-up customer service tools such as automated chatbots can take pressure off overwhelmed frontline staff when demand spikes.
  • Artificial intelligence can be tuned to proactively identify and communicate with at-risk customers with empathetic service offers so they get the assistance they need in times of crisis.
  • Leveraging cloud solutions can help banks be more agile and provide employees with reliable and secure access to technology infrastructure regardless if they work from home or the office.

Financial services can’t afford to slow down digital strategies - not when customer wellbeing relies on important services being effectively delivered by remote employees. Keeping technological alignment is critical to building an operationally resilient business. That is, a business that not only survives but continues to thrive in uncertain times.

The ability to show empathy in the decisions made during the pandemic will come to define customer trust and loyalty for many years to come. Luckily, the power of technology is on our side to collaborate and persevere in the face of uncertainty. The trick is ensuring it’s guided by the right leadership.

Michael Evans is Vice President for Pegasystems Australia and New Zealand

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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