Virtual branching: how disruptive innovations are changing financial services
The ability to blend artificial intelligence (AI) and human interaction should resonate strongly with financial service organisations due to their need to be highly targeted and responsive. When you provide the right service to a consumer at the right time, you can affect their behaviour and give them the push needed to complete the purchase.
In addition to increasing conversion, using this sort of contextual service improves the customer experience, as the customer receives relevant information at the right time and right place, while they are in the right mind-set.
Financial service organisations are increasingly looking to maximise the use of these contextual services by introducing disruptive innovations, which are beginning to reshape the way their services are consumed and structured.
Creating a virtual branch is one such way to use disruptive technology in order to engage with potential customers on another organisation’s website, and is an ideal way to meet the evolving expectations of both the financial services’ and businesses’ customers. Essentially a digital version of a shop-in-shop, a virtual branch allows financial service providers to have a live encounter with a potential customer browsing a partner website.
The service is integrated seamlessly with the purchase journey of the hosting partner, meaning that the context in which it is provided is the best form of digital service.
To give an example, imagine a person considering an expensive home improvement project. Whilst they are evaluating the providers and options available, they could be approached with an offer for credit advice or a loan. This could be done via a variety of methods including live chat, automated loan calculators, chatbots, co-browsing or a combination of any of these features, embedded on the partner website.
Setting up the service is relatively straightforward. The partner installs giosg script on their website and uses it to allow access to their partnering financial services company. The two parties involved can agree on rules regarding when and where the service is offered. For example, the financial services provider might target only those online shoppers who are looking at expensive items, such as a kitchen or bathroom, but do not proceed to order. Alternatively, a property website might allow a financial services company to target visitors with a mortgage product after they book a viewing of the property.
From the perspective of the financial service company, all the interactions appear on the same platform regardless of where they originated. If it is live chat that the service agent is responding to, he or she can also see which partner site the visitor is currently on. This allows the same service agents to take care of multiple simultaneous conversations on different partner websites.
Here are some ideas for those looking to get started with a virtual bank:
- Offering mortgages on property websites
Present an easy to use loan calculator or provide live assistance via chat on relevant mortgage and consumer loan sites.
Partner with estate agents to get access to their websites and adverts on property portals. Use real-time analytics to assess how engaged the visitor is with the property they are looking at. If the visitor shows interest, pop out a loan calculator or offer help using live chat.
- Embedding loan calculators into car dealer websites
Place a loan calculator and application form on websites related to a car purchase or car repair.
Open a loan calculator at the beginning of a buying process. Let the visitor apply for a loan while still on the car dealer site.
- Reaching out to customers when they are assessing their financial situation
Be present where decisions are made, chat with policy holders when they are reviewing their insurance policies.
Partner with insurance companies and other organisations related to personal finance. When the customers are at the right point of their buying process, offer complementary services.
To make a confident decision regarding whether or not contextual sales are feasible for your company, we would recommend that you conduct a trial. Through this, you will be able to analyse the new business potential of virtual branches and contextual sales, and which could be the first potential partners to approach for a pilot.
By Ville Rissanen, CEO and founder of Giosg