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How to structure chat services for financial brands​

chat bubbles with dollar sign symbol

Until digital-first, customer-centered fintech companies came on the scene, many traditional financial services firms didn’t adequately prioritize the customer experience (CX). But, no longer!

Adobe found in a recent report, Digital Efficiency In the Financial Service Industry, that 63 percent of organizations ranked customer experience as their number one priority.

Even though the financial services industry as a whole may have been a little late to the party, an increasing number of leaders in the space now recognize CX as a clear mode of differentiation against competitors. The same Adobe study revealed that 35 percent of financial services firms, versus an average of 28 percent across all industries, would seek to provide a differentiated customer experience.

At the same time, chat-based messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat have quickly become a dominant communication channel. In fact, messaging apps overtook social media in importance back in 2015. Today, WhatsApp users alone send more than 65 billion messages a day.

The rise of chat-based apps presents a clear opportunity for smart financial services firms, including many fintech companies, looking to structure chat services in such a way that they can build customer trust, while maximizing the customer experience, says Sue Duris, director of marketing and customer experience at CX consulting firm M4 Communications, Inc. “Consumers say having live chat gives them reassurances that they can ask questions and receive accurate and timely responses,” adds Duris.

But, only if it’s implemented properly. Here are some tips to effectively structure chat services for financial services brands.

Where to start

A chat support solution with the highest possible security standards is one way to build trust with consumers. Customer financial data is especially sensitive, which requires careful consideration between cloud-based and on-premise solutions. Cost, security, maintenance, infrastructure and other resource requirements must first be weighed in order to make the decision that’s right for your business.

Once you’ve decided whether an on-premise or hosted chat solution better fits your needs, implementation can present its own set of challenges. “It’s important to have a live chat tool that can integrate into your existing processes easily and effortlessly,” says Duris.

Her first piece of advice: Communicate to stakeholders throughout and after the rollout. Duris says it’s important to train your team to ensure that they understand when chat can be an effective service channel, and why, in order to deliver the best service.

Secondly, make sure you indicate to your customers when live chat is available and where to find help when it’s not. “Clicking on live chat when you’re expecting it to be available but it’s not is a trust killer,” Duris says.

As an additional recommendation on implementation, Duris notes the value of data analytics. The volume of data in chat transcripts can provide innumerable insights about financial services customers, including their common concerns and queries. Use it to hone the live-chat experience, inform your other support channels, as well as enhance your knowledge base and your FAQ. On top of that, Duris suggests using the insights gleaned from chat strings for Voice of the Customer analysis, offering an opportunity to follow up and delight the customer.

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Customize your approach

If you’re considering conversational bots and live chat as a customer service solution, think of how you would want to use these services and what goals they can help you achieve.

For instance, it might be a good idea to consider chatbots for simpler transactions, where standard responses will typically suffice. Conversely, some financial services companies now offer premium live chat services for high-value customers who will appreciate, and benefit from, a more tailored, concierge-level experience. Since investing requires a high level of trust between customer and provider, online chat serves as a highly personal, instant communication channel to build rapport and interactions between brand and customer.

Train your agents according to your goals

Do you want to use chat to deliver routine customer service, or to up-sell customers? This will impact how you train your chat-based agents and the tone they adopt in each engagement.

More generally, speed is a primary concern in the chat channel, says Joey Coleman, professional speaker and author of the book Never Lose a Customer Again. When agents are providing customer support via chat, hire and train them to maximize speed to understanding, i.e. the time it takes for the representative to fully understand the customer’s need or desire.

That awareness of the ‘need for speed’ is critical throughout the chat conversation, and delays should be expressly minimized. “The reason the customer chooses live chat is to find a resolution to their problem without the complete interruption of a phone call or in-person meeting,” Coleman continues.

As chat increasingly permeates the digital space, the idea of completing banking, insurance, and investing transactions through such a medium is quickly becoming commonplace for consumers. Brands that will flourish are those that can meet their customer support expectations on these new channels.

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