Last mile of the customer service experience

The next battleground in retail banking

To better position themselves to navigate the new battleground, banks will need to think of ways to combine their existing source of competitive advantage – that is, their broad customer base and brand recognition – with a compelling, end-to-end customer service experience.

Across Southeast Asia, the COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically accelerated the rate of digital adoption in financial services as consumers shift a greater share of their purchases online, and businesses – either by choice or by necessity – race to set up capabilities to support sales and servicing.

This unprecedented rise of new digital behaviours, which is expected to persist in at least some form in the next normal remade by COVID-19, is likely to result in customers placing an increasing emphasis on the simplicity of experience, and favouring platforms that are adept at making their daily tasks easier and providing affirmation through personalisation and customer service on demand.

Looking ahead, new competitors can also be expected to bring new challenges. With the upcoming issuance of digital bank licences across many key markets in Southeast Asia, both digital banks and legacy banks alike will need to focus on their end-to-end customer experience as a key differentiator in the new competitive landscape. This would require them to innovate quickly, and create flexible, scalable customer service strategies to retain and grow the customer base that they will likely have acquired through costly promotions and headline rates.

In this context, the experience of several new digital banks has been instructive: given that many of them are still in their relative infancy, they have had the opportunity to define and design their customer service experience from the ground up. Looking at some of the decisions and strategies that they have chosen, and even areas where they have fallen short, could provide us with some valuable perspectives on the design considerations that banks will need to make as they rethink and redesign their customer service experience for the next normal.

In this report, we will examine some of the design choices made by recent digital bank entrants, reflect on eight of the key lessons that can be drawn from their experience, and discuss three no-regret decisions that banks can make today to enable them to succeed in the next normal.

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