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Guest Blogger

By Jake Ranson, Chief Customer Officer, Freedom Finance.

Recent research has revealed that Britain, specifically London, is becoming increasingly cashless. Data from UK Finance showed that around seven in 10 people now use contactless payment, and its overall usage surged by 31% last year. The one aspect that stands out in all of this, from a Chief Customer Officer perspective, is the depletion of the human aspect within those transactions. A review that followed the research found that more than 8 million UK adults would struggle in an entirely cashless society.

Despite a continued surge in going contactless and digital, people still want the option of speaking to someone. At Freedom Finance, customers are given the opportunity to be approved for a loan within an end-to-end online service, yet the demand to have a human touch-point within that journey, is as pertinent as ever. We’ve found that even for the most tech-savvy individuals, just knowing that there’s someone to speak to should they need to, gives them the confidence to move forward with their financial decision online.

Companies who are daring in their approach to tech adoption can make the mistake of too much, too soon. Many of us will have been in a situation where we’ve been forced into using a service, powered by tech, that’s ended badly. When this happens, our immediate response is to refer to someone in a customer service team. The intentions of the company might have been to deliver a more streamlined, enhanced service, yet instead the relationship with the customer is damaged. Ensuring this doesn’t happen in the first place is key, but when things do go wrong, it’s the empathetic qualities of humans that have the power to win back the customer. Moreover, it’s important to give customers the opportunity to speak to someone before issues arise – throughout their entire digital journey, whatever the query may be.

One of the big challenges of AI, particularly in financial services, is breaking down the meaning behind a computer outcome. The ‘computer says no’, is simply not enough, and in any tech-powered future, is unlikely to satisfy regulatory requirements. Successful integration of AI will always be determined by the combination of tech, with human touch.

Consultancy firm PwC reported that by the mid-2030s, one in three jobs could be lost to automation, affecting both skilled and unskilled workers. Instead of fearing such predictions, companies should be now assessing how to merge the best of technology with its workforce. For financial services, this presents an incredible opportunity to accelerate their customer offering.

Personal finance decisions are something everyone deals with on some scale. Their significant impact on people, therefore, presents the finance industry with a prime opportunity for bringing technology and human touch together.

At Freedom Finance, we provide an online lending platform to consumers, cutting out the traditional process of applying for a financial product, which often involves back and forth between different providers, an anxious wait for the application outcome, and in some scenarios, a dent on a consumer’s credit score.

API gateway technology and Open Banking should be embraced by lenders. For us, the adoption of such services, along with human customer service, has resulted in stellar customer ratings. The technology means only suitable products are presented to each customer, products that both match their needs and that they’ll be approved for. Using soft search technology means a negative outcome won’t affect the customer’s credit rating either.

Technology has provided us with efficiency and customisation, putting the customer at the heart of our digital transition. The challenge for those companies working in a customer service space, is how to ensure they deliver with digital, whilst maintaining the personal service, that so often, only humans can provide.