When infrastructure and other challenges make it difficult to reach your customers, you find another way – and it’s this “make a plan” approach that’s put South Africa and other African countries at the forefront of financial services innovation.

Before smartphones and banking apps, we had mobile money and digital lending platforms that allowed customers to transfer funds, pay for goods and services, apply for loans and withdraw cash from a corner shop, all from a “regular” mobile phone.

Now, with cloud solutions, financial institutions can get even more creative and experiment with new ideas without a massive upfront investment. The result is a new wave of customer experience (CX) innovation.

Innovation starts with understanding

According to data gathered for NTT DATA’s 2023 Global Customer Experience Report, 92% of organizations in the financial services industry globally agree that improvements in CX will directly affect their net profit, and they expect better CX to lead to business growth, improved productivity and brand advocacy.

To meet customer demand for more digital interactions and seamless, personalized CX across all channels, organizations are introducing hyperpersonalization and hyperautomation into their CX operations. Understanding and optimizing customer journeys is therefore essential to customer retention and satisfaction.

Hyperautomation makes an impact

The CX report also finds that more than 9 in 10 organizations see cloud enablement as vital in realizing their CX and EX outcomes, and AI as the top enabler of future CX and EX strategies.

Hyperautomation is one of the key AI-enabled trends driving the transformation of CX. It streamlines both repetitive, rule-based tasks and more complex procedures by combining automation with intelligent decision-making, based on a wealth of data.

Advances in the underlying technologies – AI, machine learning and robotic process automation – have made hyperautomation more practical and affordable. This benefits organizations of all sizes as it levels the playing field in terms of CX innovation. Organizations can become more competitive by providing faster and more responsive services to their customers, with human agents now free to focus on more complex issues.

This trend is particularly impactful in the financial services industry, which has large contact centers and thousands of agents. With hyperautomation, organizations such as banks and insurance providers can unlock significant value by automating routine tasks and redirecting resources to sales, customer retention and other critical areas.

People make a difference

The COVID-19 pandemic showed that when human customer service agents were taken out of the equation, due to safety concerns, there was a decline in the quality of CX. Organizations realized that their employees play a critical role in delivering exceptional CX and began investing in employee wellbeing and employee experience (EX).

As the correlation between happy employees and happy customers became clear, EX became more of a priority in the C-suite, with budget allocations and investments aimed at improving both customer interactions and EX.

Our CX report shows that more than 9 in 10 organizations now have a named C-suite executive responsible for CX.

Customer service tailored to the individual

Hyperautomation enables hyperpersonalization: using real-time data, machine learning, predictive analytics and AI to generate insights, create customized and targeted CX and provide context to every customer interaction.

Organizations with hyperpersonalization capabilities gain the insights they need to adapt to their customers’ changing requirements in real time and deliver highly personalized experiences at scale – whether through email, chat or phone contact.

Additionally, sentiment analysis, powered by natural-language processing, allows organizations to gauge customer sentiment in real time and introduce human agents when necessary.

For example, a bank’s CX system can call up a customer’s last five interactions with the contact center, determine how the customer perceived those interactions, then use that data to route the customer’s latest call to a specific agent with certain skills or seniority. This creates a more engaging and meaningful customer journey.

Financial services at the forefront of technology

In South Africa, financial services providers have consistently invested in new technologies to stay connected with their customers. The entry of technology giants like Amazon and Genesys has delivered a wealth of features and security standards crucial for the industry’s obligations to both regulators and customers.

One product transforming CX in this industry is Amazon Connect. This cloud-based contact-center solution offers high-end capabilities and features, with no significant financial commitment upfront. This flexibility sets it apart from traditional solutions in this business area, making it a compelling choice for organizations looking to enhance their CX strategies.

Expert assistance paves the way

While new technologies are clearly making it easier for organizations to rapidly improve their CX, it is still a journey of digitalization that requires careful planning right from the start.

Financial service providers face challenges in deciding when, how and why to apply hyperautomation and AI technologies: more than 9 in 10 say their legacy infrastructure is greatly affecting their business agility, according to our CX report data.

Once those technologies are implemented, they need to be fine-tuned for the organization’s CX environment. For example, voice recognition software needs to be trained to incorporate the way people speak in a specific region or dialect so it can better understand the point they are trying to make.

NTT DATA plays a crucial role in guiding organizations through this process. Through analytics, interviews and assessments, we help identify their pain points and prioritize solutions that align with their business objectives.

We also help them direct their human and financial resources to customer initiatives that generate the most value, ultimately leading to improved CX, increased customer retention and revenue growth.

With this level of expert guidance, the financial services industry in South Africa is well positioned to navigate the opportunities presented by the evolution of CX.

Download our ebook about Amazon Connect to see how it can transform CX in your organization.