Let’s face it – a personal touch in a digital world - Bird Lovegod

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Iwas at the Fintech North event in Manchester last week, (there’s one in Leeds coming up if you fancy exploring the sector), and several companies stood out as particularly interesting, one of which, Suitebox, raised the question ‘Has Digital Depersonalisation gone to far?’ Has it indeed?

Remember when banks and financial services companies were actual places you would go to rather than apps or websites? When they first embraced the ideology of remote working the first thing they did was close branches and outsource their telephone customer service teams to the cheapest possible place, usually half a world away. It was as if the pendulum has swung from one extreme to the other. Customer service could be done remotely, so let’s make it as remote as possible. Then everything was made into an internet service, and the personal interaction was lost altogether, seemingly for good.

There are advantages to this kind of progress; for the company it’s about saving costs, and joining everything together in one seamless process. For the client or customer its about convenience and ease of access.

However, there are certain advantages to personal interaction, even if it’s done digitally. And rather worryingly for the financial services companies, the percentage of people who abandon an application process online is a whopping 97.5 per cent. People get bored, confused, irritated, stuck on part of the process and ease of access turns into the ease of clicking out. For the company it means there’s a 2.5 per cent success rate, and that’s the kind of number that’s easy to double, or triple, or more.

Suitebox (from New Zealand originally, now expanding into the UK), provides a solution in the format of live video. This means that when a customer is online completing a form, or contract, or other document, a real person can help with queries and questions, addressing uncertainties, and making the whole process less painful, more personal, and crucially, way more likely to be com- pleted. Ten times more likely, in some instances.

As with all digital things these days, it’s cleverer than it first seems. Contracts can be fully completed on the system in a compliant way, and the video acts as a component of the contract, protecting both parties and making sure everyone understands. Insurance claims for example are much less likely to be inaccurate if done face to face. The software is even capable of including ‘sentiment recognition’, able to detect if the client is uncertain or confused at a particular point in the process, and prompt the other party to reiterate or explain again.

It should end mis-selling and non compliant selling of policies, products, and services. PPI scandals could and should be a thing of the past. Guided ‘digital walk throughs’ of contracts and agreements can protect both parties, take the risk out of the entire process and transparently ensure that everyone is on the same page. And of course the video record is there as proof in case of disputes.

The applications are wide ranging, from financial advisors and financial services to lenders, banks, lawyers and solicitors, even the medical sectors can benefit. It’s a win-win for company and customer. They say everything comes back round. And many times it does, but in a new way. Personal service, in a face-to-face digital environment, creating a better, safer, clearer, more transparent and more meaningful experience. In a fraction of the time. Sounds like progress to me.