By Olatayo Ladipo-Ajai
The uptake of new technologies in Nigeria’s financial services industry has typically been driven by the need to survive in a very chaotic and highly pressurised environment, where the customer is becoming increasingly powerful and wants to engage with brands over his or her preferred channels.
In recent years, this trend has seen organisations in the financial services sector make use of various communication channels, such as SMS and email. However, customer demands have evolved rapidly, with them now wanting an all-encompassing solution where rich content can be shared, including images, voice messages and files.
What’s more, customers are also demanding that this content be delivered via one channel, without the hassle of having to switch between different channels to fully engage with their service provider. This means that financial services institutions, such as banks and insurance companies, are having to constantly innovate.
The use of rich content services, messaging that includes group chats, videos image sharing and more, came about in the Nigerian financial services sector when banks started to embrace digitisation from about 2010. At the same time, these institutions realised that too many people physically visited their branches to perform basic transactions, or resolve simple queries. The idea was to create additional channels to give customers an alternative to physically coming to the bank, and to rather performing these transactions remotely.
The banks that have implemented this strategy successfully were the ones that started using rich content to engage with their customers over mobile apps that could be used to open basic accounts, do fingerprint verification, or obtain digital signatures, among others. These institutions experienced a decline in customer branch visits, while also seeing a sharp uptake of these digital channels among users who enjoyed the convenience of remote banking.
But as customer demand began to evolve and digital transformation started to accelerate, financial institutions have had to grow up quickly in terms of automation and robotics, and had to become smart about customer engagement.
It is no secret that customer engagement is key to the success of any business, and a business that cannot reach its customers in a way that is convenient and beneficial for them runs risk of losing valuable business.
In essence, financial service organisations have had no choice but to take up new technologies. If they failed to innovate, they risked seeing a downturn in revenues, as the customer experience suffered, and engagement dwindled as a result.
Now, any financial institution that wants to remain relevant and successful has no option but to offer their customers the option to communicate and engage over social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp – ubiquitous channels used by people every day.
Today customers have little time, and demand that a problem or query is resolved during a single engagement, without having to visit a physical branch. Rich content allows for this to happen, and WhatsApp Business API is proving itself to be the clear leader for this type of engagement.
As a chat app, WhatsApp has become ubiquitous and has more users than any other channel, meaning that financial services institutions can share rich content with their customers over a channel that they are already using.
Placing a host of different engagement channels before the client and allowing them to share rich content over their preferred channel improves the customer experience and builds brand loyalty.
Any financial services company that does not do this will typically start shedding customers, as they will start paying attention to other service providers. Financial institutions need to continuously innovate to stay ahead – there are simply no benefits to not moving with the times.
By Olatayo Ladipo-Ajai is the Country Manager at Infobip Nigeria