Customer Engagement: A New Paradigm for Digital

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22 July 2021
Bob Meara

How Customer Engagement is Changing

Once embraced as a uniquely self-service channel, digital has quickly become a primary customer engagement mechanism for self-service and multi-modal assisted service. Banks lag other retailers in awakening to this and in accommodating their customers' digital-first expectations.

From Slow to Fast
Retail delivery has been slowly evolving for decades - until recently. Contact centers were introduced in the 1950's; ATMs in the 1960's. Online banking is more than 20 years old and mobile banking has been with us for over a decade now. But these heritage channel systems built around rigid paradigms of how customers want to interact with their financial institutions paint an incomplete picture. The reality is more complex. Retail delivery is evolving quickly now along three dimensions, propelled by rapidly advancing customer expectations (see below).

Gradual Awakening
In retail baking, much of the recent energy around customer engagement has been about automated personalization - things like chatbots and proactive alerts. These are good things. They add value. But, with the explosion in digital banking utilization there's a gradual awakening to two realities:

  1. Banks are beginning to realize they are at risk of losing personal customer connections. There is an urgent need to make digital banking more human (i.e. addition to the AI-powered personalization stuff). One reason for this leads to the second awakening.

  2. Banks built digital banking to be a self-service transaction platform. That was then. Now, digital isn't just a self-service channel, it is a primary mechanism for customer engagement. Think of it this way, having a conversation with a banker shouldn't require a telephone or navigating an IVR, or visiting a branch.

So, how do we fix this? As banks design for compelling digital user journeys, they need to ensure two things; first, they must accommodate customer's occasional desire for a conversation, in-app and in-process, using the mechanism of each customer's choice. And secondly, they need to equip bankers/agents with context and tools so they can effectively and efficiently assist customers - tools like co-browsing, secure file sharing, and e-signature.

Two Celent reports explore this profound change in detail.

Raising the CX Bar: How to Close the Trust Gap in Retail Banking, December 2018, explains the Trust Gap in retail banking and how to close it with improved value propositions delivered through proactive, digital-first customer engagement and offers several case studies of banks doing this well.

Digital Customer Engagement Platforms: Why Here? Why Now? June 2021, explains how digital has quickly become a primary customer engagement mechanism and introduces a new breed of fit-for-purpose software solutions designed for digital customer service.

Watch my 10 min interview with Peter Tilton, Senior VP-Digital at Royal Bank of Canada as we discuss what they're doing differently in customer engagement.

For more customer engagement insights, check out our topic-specific hub page.


Insight details

Insight Format
Geographic Focus
Asia-Pacific, EMEA, LATAM, North America