Balancing human and digital: Are banks losing touch with customers?

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Digital Reinvention
26/06/2023 Study

The pressure on banks to be more responsive to customers is intensifying. Some banks have used this as an opportunity to go deeper into digital, increase automation in the business and have fewer people on the frontline. Branch numbers decline, self-service rises and digital engagement becomes the norm. But you sometimes need the skills of a detective to find a telephone number on a web site to speak to a human being about the advice you need.

For other banks, there is a deep recognition that people are key to creating customer trust but the cost of doing so is just too great. So, banks adopt a middle road, giving just enough support to those at the cutting-edge of customer engagement and hope that with minimum investment in technology and training, their people will somehow be able to handle the internal complexity placed before them every day – and still develop great customer relationships. Amazingly, sometimes they do.

Meanwhile, other customers get lost in call center options, turn up for branch interviews (booked online) where no one is available to see them, are offered products they’ve already bought from a competitor, cannot find anyone to speak to about the low savings rates they’re on (because they aren’t rich enough to get through to an advisor) or get the help they need as they spiral into debt (while the bank automatically charges overdraft fees).

Is there a way out of this?

Can banks intelligently blend human and digital to create personalised interactions, moments that matter, conversations with context? Are customers simply lost in a self-service, digital labyrinth that makes money for the bank but feels like an impersonal institution, devoid of emotion – great for those smart enough to navigate the system, but a nightmare for those who cannot? Is the best option always too expensive? In this high wire act of balancing human and digital interaction, what happens to the customer if the bank slips up?

The recent rise of large language models, such as ChatGPT, has highlighted not only how sophisticated chatbots have become due to Generative AI, but also the way in which such services can augment and tailor the customer journey at various points along the human-digital spectrum. The GPT models clearly have significant potential to become part of a data-driven, customer conversation that can be balanced with high touch, human engagement. The quality, speed and depth of ChatGPT’s responses have surprised many people and have got industry commentators wondering what this means for the future of customer engagement and the role and nature of search engines. But there are limits. Such models rely on copyrighted data to train them (an emerging legal issue), there is often bias, they lack a transparent audit trail and they sometimes produce strange answers. Clearly, they are not a silver bullet, but part of a spectrum of customer engagement tools to build customer trust.

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Interviews made for this report

Digital Reinvention
02/08/2023 Interview

Balancing human and digital: Bulgarian-American Credit Bank

Ivan Ivanov, Director of Retail Banking at Bulgarian-American Credit Bank, shares insights about his role and the challenges faced by...

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12/07/2023 Interview

Balancing human and digital: BPER Banca

Maurice Lisi, Head of Direct Channels BPER Banca, discusses the importance of striking a balance between digital innovation and human...

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18/08/2023 Interview

Balancing human and digital: Desjardins

Dominic Larivée, the VP of Marketing Planning and Execution at Desjardins, discusses the dynamic landscape of digital banking and the...

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09/08/2023 Interview

Balancing human and digital: Discovery Bank

Akash Dowra, Head of Client Insight at Discovery Bank in South Africa, provides valuable insights into the dynamic landscape of...

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25/08/2023 Interview

Balancing human and digital: Eurobank Bulgaria (Postbank)

In this insightful interview with Nikolay Lazarov, Head of Sales Division for Retail Customers at Eurobank Bulgaria (Postbank), conducted for...

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19/07/2023 Interview

Balancing human and digital: Mauritius Commercial Bank

Vincent Chatard, Chief Operating Officer of the Mauritius Commercial Bank, shares insights on the challenges confronting the bank's retail banking...

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26/07/2023 Interview

Balancing human and digital: Macquarie Group

In this insightful interview, Aviram Vijh, Chief Design Officer of the Macquarie Group, shares his perspectives on the efforts of...

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28/06/2023 Interview

Balancing human and digital: TNEX

David Jiménez Maireles, the Chief Experience Officer of TNEX, shares his expertise on delivering exceptional customer experiences in the digital...

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05/07/2023 Interview

Balancing human and digital: Wealth One Bank of Canada

Barry Ferguson, the Chief Operating Officer of Wealth One Bank of Canada, shares his perspectives on various aspects of the...

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