Top Five Trends in Customer Engagement Technology

Guest post by Ian Dunbar, CEO of SuiteBox

Financial services businesses face many pressures – cost reduction, scalability, risk mitigation, compliance, and regulation. Technology is the solution, at least in part, to these pressures. However, technology adds to the friction or customer effort of engaging with the financial service. More effort = customer disengagement.

Cutting across fintech, there are rapid advances being made in technology that drives customer engagement. Here are some of the top themes in CETech – customer engagement technology – that are worth watching.

Social media delivering personalization (and profiling)

Social media, search history, and analytic tools leveraging our digital social footprint will become mainstream in building real time client profiles. This will enable financial services providers to engage with clients through highly-relevant personalized content and to leverage profiles to determine product suitability.

For example, being aware of changes in a client’s family situation (perhaps the death of a loved one or a divorce) may enable the proactive deployment of more effective financial strategies. Product designers can even leverage existing social media data to determine the risks associated with the delivery of a product or service. A life insurer can build an individual’s risk profile more accurately from social media data than from a questionnaire.

Artificial intelligence and cognitive learning

Conversational speech and facial expressions can be analyzed to determine customer emotions. Microsoft’s Emotion API, for example, can detect anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise from a voice stream and images.

Financial service providers can use cognitive tools to deliver their products in a more engaging manner. Meeting with a client in person, via video or on the telephone, can be analyzed in real time. Risk assessment for miss-selling, real timing adapting of what and how a product is presented, or even determining if client is misrepresenting information will all be possible.

The power of video

Most surveys continue to tell us that customers prefer meeting personally with their financial providers. However this can be costly and inconvenient. Do you or your clients want to spend time in traffic, battling for a parking spot, and suffering the stress of congested roads, for a personal meeting?

Of course not. So we use the phone as our primary non-physical meeting tool. But the problem with the phone is it doesn’t employ the power of sight. Eye contact is fundamental to human communication. We can tell a lot from a person’s eyes, what mood they are in, and their level of comfort. Avoiding eye contact with strangers is a common strategy to remain private, especially in situations of close proximity. Yet this is what we do in important telephone calls with our clients.

Biometrics gather momentum

Usernames and passwords are an enormous source of consumer frustration and customer effort. Fingerprint recognition of smartphones has led consumers to treat biometrics as mainstream. This will rapidly expand as biometrics allow a convergence between previously incompatible goals of enhanced security without customer effort.

Smarter virtual assistants

Natural language voice recognition combined with smart virtual assistants mean we will increasingly talk to our financial services websites or apps, rather than our fingers doing the work. Love or hate Siri, voice commands will be increasingly accepted as the norm.

Get ready

Embed customer effort reducing measures and customer-centric design into your digital strategies. Embed the customer experience into user journeys using the latest engagement technologies. Create your own “Customer Experience Lab” to test the experience. There is no better time to put your customer back into the centre of your IT strategy.


Ian Dunbar is the CEO of SuiteBox. SuiteBox enables a permanently open digital workspace to be established between a host and participants of a meeting, allowing participants to meet via video or physically, share and collaborate on documents between the parties, digitally sign documents, establish evidence of identify & record the meeting for future reference. Headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand and founded in 2013, the company demonstrated its technology at FinovateEurope 2016.

Enhancing the Customer Experience in Financial Services

Guest post by Sean Daly, Director of Partnerships, SaleMove

Over the last decade, financial technology, or “fintech”, has completely changed the financial services industry. While fintech innovations provide companies with convenience and outreach potential from the perspective of the financial institution, they are only useful if the customer feels comfortable interfacing with its framework (i.e. customer experience). Fintech has felt the challenges of customer experience, and here we’ll quickly go through a couple of those challenges along with some ways you can solve them.

The Differentiation Challenge

In order to understand the differentiation challenge in financial services, let’s point to the auto industry as an example. In the early days of modern manufacturing, the focus was put on mass production. Over the years with more competition, the priority began to shift from mass production to mass customization.

A good example is the Ford Model T; More than 15 million of them were built from 1908-1927. Apart from a few design modifications, Ford produced the same exact car 15 million times. As more and more competitors entered the market, the car became commoditized, which made differentiation extremely difficult. In reaction, automakers began providing a more personalized and customized auto experience. Flash forward to today and think about how many customizations are available on any new automobile. You can even design your own car online and have it delivered to your door. The focus switched from mass production to mass customization and personalization.

With a physical product like a car, the buying experience ends when the physical product is in the customer’s hands and they drive it away. In financial services, where there is no physical product, the customer will reflect back on the buying itself as the product. In financial services, the experience is the product.

The Touchpoint Challenge

Customers place a particularly high priority on trust and convenience. According to a recent survey sponsored by Zendesk, 62% of customers buy more when they have a good buying experience, but even more (64%) stopped buying when they had a bad customer experience. This is even more so in financial services because they are handling your money!

Today’s customer has infinite touch points, and they react badly and quickly to poor experiences. With social media, people can share their negative thoughts about a bad interaction with their circles within minutes (remember the United Airlines incident?), and it’s no secret that customers are much more likely to share bad experiences than good ones.

Let’s look at some ways you can solve these customer experience challenges:

● Map the customer journey to provide a consistent and relevant experience. If you haven’t mapped the customer journey on your website yet, read this HBR article to get started.

● Build personalized online experiences around customer segments to improve relevance. For example, Caribou coffee does this by remembering the customer’s preferences and then displays targeted flavors and products according to past activity. Netflix also serves as a good example with their profile personalization, which allows different profiles to share the same account. Financial services companies can do the same by personalizing experiences with Guided Selling products like SmartAssistant.

● Connect online with offline to build a comprehensive view of your customer. There are two ways financial services businesses can do this, either by heavily tracking their customer through analytics software on and offline, or connecting the two seamlessly. With new technologies like chat, video chat, and CoBrowsing, online interactions can be made to feel personal and authentic, similar to face-to-face experiences. We call this “creating the in-person customer experience online.

If you’re interested in learning more about CoBrowsing or considering to purchase a technology solution like it, check out this article:

Questions to Ask When Choosing a CoBrowsing Solution


Sean Daly is Director of Partnerships at SaleMove. A four-time Finovate Best of Show winner, SaleMove was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in New York City. The company most recently demonstrated its Engagement Platform and OmniBrowse solution at FinovateSpring 2017. Dan Michaeli is CEO.

New Report from AARP Explores the Longevity Economy

AARP_LongevityEconomy

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Guest post by Theodora Lau*
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By 2015, there were more than 1.6 billion people in the world who were part of the 50-plus cohort. By 2050, this number is projected to double to nearly 3.2 billion people. Throughout the world, the growth of this age group is having a transformative impact, economically and socially. The United States alone is home to 111 million in the 50-plus demographic, representatives of a powerful force driving economic growth and value. AARP has branded the group the Longevity Economy, because it represents the sum of all economic activity driven by the needs of Americans aged 50 and older, and includes both products and services they purchase directly and the further economic activity this spending generates.

The difference it makes is substantial. In the first Longevity Economy report released in 2013 by AARP and Oxford Economics, the Longevity Economy fostered $7.1 trillion in annual economic activity. This figure has now been revised to $7.6 trillion in the latest report. The out-sized contribution reflects the changing demographics, wealth, and spending patterns of the 50-plus population as the lifespan increases and the Longevity Economy becomes more pervasive and central to economic and social policies.

Key findings from this report include the following:

  • The 50-plus cohort represented approximately 35% of the U.S. population in 2015 and was responsible for over $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity—roughly 42% of total U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Direct spending on consumer goods and services, including health care, by those aged 50 and older, amounted to $5.6 trillion in 2015.
  • Approximately $1.8 trillion in federal, state and local taxes were attributable to the Longevity Economy in 2015—about 34% of federal tax revenue and 41% of state and local tax revenue collected in the U.S.

The economic contributions of the Longevity Economy are evident, and the beneficiaries are not limited to those over 50. In fact, the spending of the Longevity Economy supports more than 89.4 million jobs (61% of all U.S. jobs) and over $4.7 trillion in labor income.

As Jody Holtzman, senior vice president of market innovation at AARP, would often say:” Why would you leave money on the table by ignoring the only humongous growth-market that exists?!” So the question for entrepreneurs and VCs is simply this: What is your 50+ strategy?

The Longevity Economy Report is available for download at:

http://www.aarp.org/technology/innovations/innovation-50-plus/research/#longevity

For more information about AARP’s technology innovation initiatives and how AARP sparks innovation in the marketplace for the benefit of people over 50, please visit:

http://www.aarp.org/technology/innovations/innovation-50-plus/


*Theodora Lau is director of enterprise strategy and innovation at AARP. You may contact her for more information at tlau@aarp.org.