Why video alone isn't enough

As the pandemic shook up every aspect of working life, the urgency of digital transformation rapidly accelerated. However, the reach of this impulse didn't stop at our home desks. Customer preferences went digital too, creating a demand for omnichannel services.

Of course, the dynamics of digital competition were not solely a product of the pandemic. BigTech and digital disruptors who hinged their offers on technological advancement have been chipping away at customer experience for years, shaping a new set of expectations.

Nonetheless, the effect of the pandemic has taken digital transformation from a threat on the horizon to the standard for survival.

In finance, this has given way to some seismic shifts. Research by Kearney shows that 64 per cent of UK consumers are now willing to open an account online?a 30-40 per cent increase from the year before. Today, it's clear that the digital directive has come to define the financial services landscape.

The pandemic, customer expectations and the video meeting fallacy

In the context of this renewed pressure, where does the so-called video meeting fallacy fit in? It was, after all, the video meeting that offered a digital salvation to many pandemic-stricken service providers.

In each customer journey, positive experiences come about when it is the customer who defines their own path. The importance of convenience is often overlooked. The tendency is to consider one touchpoint at a time, giving less thought to how these interconnect and form a coherent whole.

The pandemic introduced a new layer. The response to the global crisis was largely reactive, where financial institutions fell back on the video meeting to replicate in-person touchpoints.

It's time we asked whether video meetings are enough to provide a truly customer-centric experience: one that gives them the power of choice, rather than forcing them to use a designated channel.

A fork in the road: moving towards a holistic vision of the customer journey

The fact that video meetings aren't a catch-all customer experience solution doesn't mean we should do away with them completely. They should be implemented as one among several interconnected digital touchpoints, embedded into the customer journey.

If we consider that journey holistically, we see that isolated video meetings don't deliver the asynchronous communication that is so integral to positive customer relationships. Equally, they tend to happen in a kind of corporate blackbox. They lack relevant context from prior communications, and they often fall outside of authentication systems that protect the company and customers.

While the task of integration is technically demanding, insisting that customers routinely use video functionalities isn't going to be effective. Today's customers relate to convenient forms of communication like asynchronous messaging, and a more holistic engagement strategy will see value in providing these kinds of channels.

Customer-centric digital tools to make each interaction meaningful

Fundamentally, customers want to feel valued and respected. If presented with digital tools that help them to complete a task, it will build upon the emotional connection elicited by the human component.

These could include an embedded secure messaging service for an ultra-convenient way to interact in real-time to resolve minor queries, or a video call for more complex advice. The addition of a co-browsing feature curbs the inefficiencies of regular video meeting platforms.

Instead, the two can simultaneously view documentation or do investment research collaboratively, avoiding the need for a follow-up meeting to discuss their findings. The client is left feeling supported and satisfied that their time has been respected.

In summary: overcoming the video meeting fallacy

Banks must avoid falling into the trap of thinking that a smiling face on a video platform is an effective way to keep digital services ?human?. The key is in using multiple interconnected channels to augment human-led services. The video meeting may well be among them, but we need to be asking questions about how they can be more productive, and more meaningful.