How COVID-19 is changing the financial services sector

What are companies doing to better serve their customers?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has had a significant impact on every industry and sector in the UK, changing the way in which we’re working and living on a day-to-day basis.

One sector noticing significant shockwaves from the outbreak is the financial services sector.

With new financial updates and news stories emerging each day, highlighting that 20% of small business could fold in the next month due to the collapse in the demand from their customers, that nearly half a million people have applied for universal credit benefits in the last two weeks, and that companies of all sectors and sizes are placing their staff on furlough for the foreseeable future, the strain on companies operating within the financial services sector is colossal.

Meeting the demand of those customers is imperative to retaining their trust and loyalty.

But how are financial services companies rising to this new challenge?

It’s clear that companies within the financial services sector are prioritising their customers more than ever before, moving quickly to enable their work force to effectively work from their homes, adapting their communications channels to ensure they can still serve their customers, creating new initiatives to educate their customers around new scams, and putting greater emphasis on their digital channels to reduce the strain on customer contact centres that are doing all they can to meet the rising demand of their customers, whilst simultaneously protecting the health and well-being of their workforce.

Significant accelerations in digital transformation

A lot of companies within the financial services sector have noticed dramatic increases in demand from their customers over the last 3-4 weeks, some have found it difficult to meet the surge, with some large UK insurers currently only having the capacity to answer 25% of their calls, leaving the other 75% unanswered.  

coveaBanking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) says member banks are experiencing a 400% increase in calls seeking financial support, including an average of 7,000 calls a day from customers regarding mortgage-related concerns.

To continue to meet the requirements of their customers, many insurers and banks are looking to quickly diversify their service. This diversification of communications largely relies on digital channels such as digital chat services, or virtual assistants, like Google Home or Amazon Alexa, enabling customers to self serve, and their providers to prioritise their services for emergencies and their customers who need them the most. 

Other initiatives have also been introduced to enable customers to self-serve as best as possible, with the UK’s biggest high streets banks, including Lloyd’s, Natwest, Santander and Barclays quickly introducing online forms that enable their customers to create and submit mortgage holiday applications to ease the strain on their phone networks.

A focus on the well-being of employees

Though it’s vital to serve customers in the best way possible throughout the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, companies within the financial services sector are also applying a great deal of emphasis in ensuring the health and well-being of their workforce.

When preparing their workforce to work from home for the foreseeable future, many financial services companies identified the most vulnerable within their teams and prioritised them, removing them from populated offices and preparing them to work from home as soon as possible.

As many companies have already started to digitise their services, the transition has been easier than it would be if they still solely relied on telephone services, with members of staff still able to operate 'phone lines from home, and operate web chat services to communicate with customers.

Companies are encouraging their staff to use video conferencing software to stay connected with each other, carry on with meetings as normal and continue to engage with clients and partners. Microsoft Teams now has more than 44 million daily users, accumulating to over 900 million meeting minutes.

Addressing a rise in customer vulnerability

Due to the current circumstances, numbers of vulnerable customers are set to rise exponentially, with many people experiencing employment issues; either losing their job entirely or being furloughed by their employers.

So far, there have been some great responses to this potential increase, with Lloyds Banking Group introducing dedicated phone lines for customers over the age of 70, and Barclays uploading new videos to their YouTube channel, educating their customers on how to keep themselves safe in the digital world via the “Tea and Teach” video series.

Others, like Natwest, have gone a step further, prioritising their services for customers in vulnerable circumstances. In addition to this, Natwest have set up dedicated support for NHS front-line workers so they can get 24/7 help with their banking, whenever they need it.

Increasing social media presence

zurichA dramatic increase in Coronavirus-related scams has left banking and insurance companies customers in a difficult position.  

To combat these scams, many companies from the financial services sector have increased the frequency of their social media posts to draw their customers attention to this and provide them with insights into the risks that they face from the cyber dimension of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Financial Conduct Authority are also creating clear messaging to their social media following, advising them on how to be more vigilant against potential scams throughout this ongoing period of uncertainty.

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At Mando, we are currently running conference calls for financial services colleagues on a bi-weekly basis, with the aim of bringing together digital professionals from the financial services sector to share experiences and their innovative responses to the rapid change in circumstances caused by COVID-19.

Joining one of the calls is a great opportunity to:

  • Discuss the current situation with peers from within your industry;
  • Share experiences on what has and hasn’t worked in dealing with your customers;
  • Learn from others about how best to react to the effects of Coronavirus;
  • Learn how other companies are responding to the significant growth of customers now considered to be at risk of vulnerability, or already in a vulnerable circumstance and how to improve experiences for those customers.

If you’d like to join us on one of those calls, please get in touch and we can discuss how to get you involved.

If you need help to improve any aspect of your digital customer experience, now more than ever, get in touch and we can set up a video call to get the conversation started. Alternatively send an email to tracey.greer@mando.agency