Ringover explains why it is vital that financial services have the highest quality technology to ensure a great customer experience

Our finances impact on practically every level of our lives. Whoever said ‘money can’t buy happiness’ may have been correct in a technical sense, but we all know that financial security can buy off a huge amount of worry and uncertainty, and offer valuable choices when the world is in flux.

Strange then that relatively few of us really engage with financial planning well, and that common understanding of the market and what it can offer is low, while many people struggle along paying more than they need for everyday financial products and having a very limited safety net. This holds true even before any unforeseen event happens, like a global health and economic crisis. Research from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK at the end of 2020 indicated that more than 20 million people would struggle to meet basic living expenses after 3 months loss of their main source of household income, and the pandemic lockdowns had already tipped 3.7 million more UK households into financial vulnerability.

Even people who have meaningful levels of assets earned, inherited, or saved, are not necessarily secure in financial terms. If they are badly advised about a market or product they don’t fully understand, or recommended investments which don’t suit their future needs or risk profile, they can lose out fast. And those of means may also need expert advice on minimising losses through tax and forward planning for things like inheritance, in legal and safe ways.

Finally, there are ethical considerations, when it comes to investing. Perhaps you are keen to ensure your nest egg will not only support you in old age, but that it won’t support oppressive regimes or questionable business models - these are all highly personal judgements and opinions. Due to the way that financial products are created, bundled, sliced, packaged, and marketed, it is often far from clear in any case, exactly where your money is going and what it is funding - as many found out to their cost during the 2008 financial crisis, when their assets turned out to be in far more risky products than they had been led to believe, such as mortgage-backed securities at the least reliable end of the market.

Who does the everyday investor turn to, for advice on their next financial move?

The trusted financial advisor

That same financial crisis did huge damage to the brand equity of some of the world’s biggest financial institutions - banks and lenders which had been part of the traditional establishment for generations. This had second order consequences for customer services in the finance sector that many enterprises did not adequately foresee and plan for.

In the 20th century many people chose their first bank account simply by following their parents’ behaviour, and then went on to take out consumer credit, mortgage lending and so on, with the same trusted brand. All that changed, when high street branches locked their doors and international institutions collapsed, and traditional banks suddenly stopped being places people automatically felt safe with their financial futures.

Many modern solutions have evolved from the financial technology (fintech) side over the previous decade, which offer consumers transparent self-service ways of interacting with financial products on their own terms and timetable - such as peer to peer lending and exchange platforms like Zopa and Wise, and retail investor tools like RobinHood. Anyone with a smartphone can easily engage in quite complex financial activities, like derivatives trading and cryptocurrency investment.

These are great for people who know what they’re doing, or what they want, and are prepared to work their way up the learning curve required.

But for everyone else, the role of the financial advisor has come into its own - whether acting as an agent for a particular brand or fund, or acting independently on behalf of the consumer.

Building relationships, building trust

Many of the professional firms which have emerged in this space in recent years are quite small and specialised, comprising experts with deep niche knowledge, as well as generalists with a clear overview.

They depend on building lasting relationships with customers, and being able to respond to their changing needs over time. Just as the high street bank once offered junior savers a shiny piggy bank and pen as a loss-leader against their future mortgage and life assurance purchase, the IFA will help investors select products and services in line with their present and future expectations and needs - those who start saving for retirement early enough might be able to release more income when their family needs are most demanding, and so on.

All this means creating a deep connection with customers and encouraging them to trust you.

In 2021, this relationship building takes place on the phone.

Of course, it also involves documents and written information, but as the FCA research discussed above indicates, many people need help navigating financial information presented to them - 57% of their respondents found that people felt nervous, overwhelmed or stressed when talking about financial products and services, and of these 16% had fallen into debt which they might have avoided had they better understood their options and responsibilities.

Even admitting to a lack of understanding may be challenging, and this is where trust is so vital. An agent who has taken the time to really get to know a client, and built a mutually trusting relationship, is the one that will be turned to when they’re uncertain, or need something explaining again in a new way because they’re not afraid to admit they simply haven’t understood.

Agents meanwhile will need to ensure that they have met the requirements of their regulatory body, in ensuring that customers truly understand the terms of the contract they are entering into, and this is where modern business cloud phone systems can come into their own - such as the Ringover integration with Crankwheel,to enable live document sharing and interaction, while a call is in progress.

Being able to review a document together without terminating or rescheduling the call means that the agent can direct the conversation to those trickier areas of understanding, or frequently misunderstood aspects of the product. They can take customers through the small print in detail, making certain that no points are glossed over or misinterpreted.

As well as ensuring their due diligence is completed and their own role in the transaction effectively documented and timestamped, this attention to detail also helps maintain and establish trust with the client, and deepens the relationship. Perhaps this contract would have been signed face-to-face in the pre-Covid era, but with the tools of modern VoIP phone systems like Ringover, there is no reason that anything need be rushed or misunderstood.

Beyond the bots: we still need to talk

Of course, not every financial purchase requires this level of hand-holding and reassurance.

The fintech apps and bots can abstract away the routine stuff - renewing car insurance, or switching utilities. The information gathering required for such diligence can easily be done by an AI now instead of a human in a call centre, and lets the customer deal with the low stakes stuff at any time of day or night, when it’s convenient for them. In fact, when it comes to ensuring that a process has been replicated precisely - such as a disclaimer read verbatim to each customer - a CX bot or multi-level IVR can do a better job, than a (bored, hasty) human, in some circumstances.

Having self-service options available gets lots of callers out of the queue, to sort the issue out for themselves. And it also lets customers self-select exactly what is an easy or independent solution for them in particular - because not everyone can necessarily navigate the car insurance portal themselves due to language problems or disability or unknown reasons, so perhaps a human operator IS required to talk them through it.

So the need for experienced, empathetic, and knowledgeable human customer service agents in the financial services sector is not going to go away any time soon. The robots aren’t coming for their jobs just yet, far from it - they’re taking away the boring and repetitive bits, and conserving the agent-customer one-to-one time for exactly when it is most urgently needed.

Quality calls, for life-changing decisions

Whenever life changes, financial decisions have to be made.

Sometimes these changes are anticipated, looked forward to, even longed for… other times they are completely out of the blue. Change may be exciting, positive, and amazing - or disastrous in every sense.

Whatever happens, people need professional advice, sooner rather than later. And if they already enjoy a lasting/established relationship with a trusted advisor, so much the better. The advisor can act as the sounding board, and refer on to other experts (e.g. credit brokers, solicitors) as needed..

Bound by professional codes of confidentiality and good faith, the skilled IFA combines their market awareness with their existing knowledge of the customer’s history, priorities and plans - because all of that data is safely stored in the CRM with which their VoIP phone system is integrated.

Does the customer really think that you, the IFA, remembers every detail of your conversation 6 months ago - that time you outlined your retirement travel dreams, your secret genetic legacy fears, your career and income expectations, and your concerns about greenwashing of funds related to urban development?

No, of course not.

But they do expect you to advise and inform them intelligently, and to have their previous information - especially anything sensitive, unique, or urgent - accessible when needed, in order to advise them appropriately when you need it.

And they want to avoid repeating themselves, as well.

So, a memorable customer service experience on the phone also depends on crystal clear audio quality, such as that which Ringover customers enjoy.

Your customers deserve to discuss their life-changing decisions without having to contend with latency, packet loss, or jitter. Audio distortion not only risks data loss or misunderstanding, it breaks the flow and reminds everyone that you’re not face-to-face dealing with the problem together after all.

Perhaps a decade ago you would have reserved business calls for your office landline, because VoIP and mobile calls were too unreliable, and the voices sounded odd. Voice data tended to be highly compressed, to avoid the kind of artefacts and distortion that they might be subject to, and to filter out any background interference - in the same way that people sound strange speaking over a walkie-talkie, or when a sports commentator is standing next to a noisy racetrack.

But today’s business cloud phone systems like Ringover offer the quality of call you need, for those most vital conversations. No need to ask anyone to repeat themselves or clarify what they meant.

Instead, financial services professionals anywhere in the world can rely on Ringover to support the highest quality interactions with their customers, on inbound and outbound calls - with the CRM history and notes at their fingertips, every word clearly understood, and the perfect environment for explaining complex products and decisions. And those who put such a system in place will enjoy competitive advantage over others, in an industry which can be surprisingly hidebound and traditional at times.

Waht to have the highest quality technology for the best customer experience?

Talk to Ringover today, for expert advice about implementing our business cloud phone system for your financial services firm at 020 3808 5555 or send an email to sales@ringover.co.uk