Five ways financial services firms can enhance their customer experience with cloud communications

An open line of communication is the heart and soul of a successful relationship between customers and a trusted financial services advisor. And in a digital and increasingly mobile age, customers have the reasonable expectation that any business – particularly one in the financial services industry – will be ever present and always available to address every need, question and possible issue.

That said, with local branch hours often conflicting with traditional office hours, it is more and more critical for retail banks to have the ability to communicate remotely with customers. Brokerage and advisory firm need to provide timely market updates and analyses to clients according to their preferred methods – whether it be through email, SMS or Facebook Messenger.

Cloud communication has made it possible for organisations of any size and within any industry to offer robust and intuitive communications on a global scale. Making it extremely simple for developers to integrate communications into their applications. Developers no longer need to understand complex telecommunications protocols; instead they use the provided APIs and SDKs. Businesses benefit by saving infrastructure costs, avoiding lock-in contracts, and paying only for what they use.

Thanks to the Cloud, businesses can easily and cost-effectively verify users, provide real-time information, and implement two-way communications. Here are five ways that financial service firms can use cloud communications to enhance their apps and services:

Real-time alerts and notifications

When it comes to financial markets, every second matters. Financial services firms should take advantage of the ubiquity of mobile phones and the high read rate of text messages to deliver notifications and alerts to their customers in real time.

With SMS APIs from cloud communications providers, financial service firms can programmatically send messages to practically any mobile phone. Retail banks can notify customers when transactions complete, or alert them about transactions that seem fraudulent.

Omni-channel customer support

Today’s consumers are not only comfortable with, but expect customer support through multiple channels. Using SMS APIs, voice APIs, and local virtual numbers businesses can allow customers to initiate and engage in two-way communications over text or phone calls from any location. The large user base of apps such as We Chat and Facebook Messenger has made chat apps an increasingly important communication channel.

Financial service firms can differentiate their support services while reducing the burden of phone calls on their service reps by using chat app APIs. Chat app APIs allow businesses to communicate with their customers over multiple chat apps, without having to integrate with every single chat app. With cloud communications APIs businesses can preserve context of all customer communications and provide a complete overview to customer service reps.

The two-factor, x-factor

59 per cent of consumers will select a financial services provider that offers additional security. An easy win for any financial services firm is to offer two-factor authentication (2FA) at login instead of just a username and a static password.

Phone verification APIs make implementing a second factor of authentication quick, inexpensive, and effective. With phone verification, no hardware tokens are needed and the verification code is delivered out-of-band (over SMS or voice) for added security.

In addition to 2FA, phone verification should be implemented to automate password resets. This will not only save call centre costs but can also improve the user experience.

Balancing user acquisition with regulations

Online user acquisition is fundamental to the success of fintech applications. For these applications it is critical that the user on boarding process be frictionless. At the same time, they are subject to regulations such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) that require them to identify their users.

To balance the conflicting requirements, fintech applications should implement tiered user verification. In this scenario, the on boarding remains frictionless and the user is only required to provide an email or a phone number to create an account. Then if the user wants to make transactions up to an amount, say £1000, the user needs to verify their phone number – this can be implemented using verification APIs. A verification requiring tax IDs or government provided IDs is only conducted when a user wants to conduct larger transactions.

Risk-scoring and step-up authentication

Prevention is better than cure, and that applies to financial service firms as well. Many financial service providers use algorithms to determine the fraud risk of a transaction. Cloud APIs providing real-time insights on phone numbers can provide highly relevant input such as number type, carrier name, and roaming status to risk scoring engines and improve fraud detection rates. Further, phone verification can be used for step-up authentication if the risk score is between certain thresholds to prevent false positives.

Cloud communications provide a wide range of benefits for any business – especially those in financial services – including increased productivity, flexibility, mobility and scalability, as well as ease of use. The benefit to the customer is an enhanced experience where their every need is not only addressed in the here and now, but anticipated with a personal touch that relies on the intuitive capabilities of a cloud communications system.

This elevated level of customer service is redefining business communications as we know them today and providing a superior customer experience that will set adopters apart from the rest.

Srivatsan Srinivasan, product leader at Nexmo

Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa