As we enter September, we are five months on from the government enforced COVID lockdown and we are beginning to transition into our new norms. At Explain we have been monitoring, reviewing, and reflecting on the evolution of our core sectors during this time, and it is evident that the relationship between banks and building societies and their customers has evolved significantly as a direct result of the pandemic.
One of the biggest impacts is the acceleration of a digital transformation. As with other sectors, the finance sector had to move whole customer service teams to remote working within a very short space of time, whilst also ensuring that the level of service provided to customers was not compromised.
Alongside this customer behaviour changed. There has been a seismic shift and acceptance of digital tools and increased activity aligned to the use of digital channels, for example, Nationwide reported an 89% increase in downloads of their banking app.
We have also learnt that personalisation has become key when engaging with customers in the sector and that the experience needs to be humanised. For some customers, they have made their first transition into an online environment and are still reliant and have an expectation of a two-way conversation – chat bots and instant messages are not as accepted (yet) within the sector.
Customers transitioned online due to circumstance, for some, they have been forced to engage in this way, as their high street banks and building societies closed their doors during the pandemic. A number of customers were not as digitally savvy, they were new to the world of online engagement. As a result the finance sector had to adjust their online offering, and were more aware than ever of the functionalities and services offered by digital channels.
As a research agency, operating within the finance sector delivering customer engagement programmes we worked with our clients to understand how to support engagement and one of the solutions that has become a central part of their toolkit is our online community platform.
So, what is an online community? An online community in its simplest form is a method of social and digital engagement; it offers a branded members-only online space in which to directly engage ‘in the moment’ with a desired audience in the finance sector this has been with customers, but could be stakeholders or employees. Along with the build of each community, Explain provides an ongoing management and moderation service which sees users encouraged to actively participate in the familiar digital environment, sparking qualitative two-way conversation – which is vital for any engagement programme.
In our experience, digital and online engagement will remain in some guise. We believe an online community is a cost effective, inclusive channel to underpin customer engagement programmes within the sector.
If you are interested in launching an online community then we have written a White Paper, sharing our best practice approach providing you with the foundations to understand why an online community will support your research and engagement programme and deliver cost effective insight. The paper, which is accessible to all, for free by following the link Online Community white paper
The paper is free to download by following the link Online Community white paper, if you have any questions or would like to arrange a 1:1 conversation to explore how an online communities will support your organisation please contact Holly Shiel-Redfern at firstname.lastname@example.org