The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital channels and experiences across most industries. Look no further than retail shopping rapidly moving online and you can see the businesses benefiting from providing the best online experiences.

Compare this to the world of banking, where the banks have scrambled to cope with their customer-facing workforce being home-bound, and the disruption of their offshore contact centres being closed by local governments. The impact on static service models has been immense, exposing the inflexibility of operating with permanent staffing models, and housing them in downtown office buildings.

The legacy of an analogue operating model and incomplete business continuity planning is still being felt. There are capacity issues across the sector as customers seek help either to refinance a mortgage or just get clarity on service issues. Reform of service operating models within the banking sector is long overdue. It's time to debate what banks are truly good at, and how to use trusted partners to deliver integrated and flexible customer service.

Most Australian banks have an extensive and complex set of service providers working with them to deliver non-core capabilities, for example, IT help desks and payroll. Does it also make sense to leverage partner-delivered customer experience and digital platforms to provide a flexible and adaptive operating model?

Some banks are already questioning if owning and operating an in-house contact centre is the most effective strategy to ensure a better customer experience and competitive advantage. However, the principles of customer-centricity, reducing complexity, and ensuring compliance should be overlaid when considering which products or services to outsource or keep in-house.

At the core is the big question: once you have all of the right stakeholders at the table to co-design and implement a customer-centric and digitally enabled service ecosystem, who is best placed to build and deliver on those ambitions?

Banking and financial services should be prepared to consider a range of solutions and partners before making decisions on how to move forward. Some key considerations should include:

  • Scale to accommodate current and future needs
  • Labour cost arbitrage will erode over time — should you be thinking about a hybrid virtual assistant / human workforce?
  • Process improvement — is this a deeply entrenched capability?
  • Cultural affinity between partner businesses
  • Cost vs benefit and risk vs return — is your customer experience generating value or is it just a cost centre?

Over the next 18 months, there will be a huge early-mover advantage for businesses that embrace value-based partnerships to fuel their service transformation journey. They will be rewarded with the creation of strong bottom-line value and brand differentiation as they move away from a pure cost-reduction mentality.

Rachel Bywater is Datacom's strategic sales lead for our Connect business. She is an industry expert and advisor on customer experience and operations process optimisation, automation, and outsourcing strategy, with extensive experience working with the financial services sector.

Related industries
Financial services
Related solutions
Contact centres Customer experience