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Salesforce: The customer experience will be vital in 2021

Rohit Mahna, SVP at Salesforce, gives us his take on financial services’ future, the renewed importance of CX, and technology’s continued impact

|Mar 3|magazine9 min read

That financial services have changed in the last 12 months is an understatement. Digital transformation has become a necessity, customer expectations have changed, and new technologies promise to deliver products and services with previously unthought of efficacy.

To learn more about what 2021 (and beyond) might have in store for the sector, FinTech Magazine (FM) spoke with Rohit Mahna (RM), SVP of Industries Advisors at Salesforce.

Previously SVP and General Manager of Financial Services, Mahna’s nine years at Salesforce have included participation in the development of its Financial Services Cloud, the company’s first industry-specific product.

He also holds over 15 years of additional experience within financial services, including taking the lead of IBM’s sector-based business analytics solutions.

FM: What do you think will be the primary difference between financial services in 2020 and 2021?

RM: In 2020, COVID-19 really elevated customer expectations around companies’ digital capabilities. As more and more consumers turned to apps and websites for rapid, personalised service à la Amazon or Netflix, they carried those heightened expectations over to other industries. This has upped the ante for financial services providers to simplify their own customer journeys in 2021 and beyond.

This year, financial services providers must focus on getting customers to their desired outcomes while minimising friction. At the end of the day, consumers don’t dream about finding the perfect lender, applying for a loan, and getting the right mortgage product – they dream about owning a home. As we look towards the rest of 2021 and beyond, financial services providers will shift their focus to an ecosystem model to provide more connected, simplified customer experiences. 

FM: Data will play an important part in enriching CX, yet it also carries security issues. How can companies reap the positives of data while protecting against the negatives?

RM: AI’s biggest benefits include the ability to humanize customer interactions and improve customer experiences. Though it might sound counterintuitive, AI reduces rote tasks and processes, freeing agents up to have more personal, strategic interactions. In essence, agents act like coaches or advisors, enabling them to focus more on customer well-being, something 73% of financial services providers say has increased in importance since the onset of the pandemic

And when it comes to data, having solid security and compliance is nonnegotiable. Financial service institutions (FSIs) must be transparent about how customer data is being used and what goes into automated models. Further, FSIs must receive consent before personalising products and services or taking action. Transparency and consent are critical for earning and retaining customer trust.

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FM: After omnichannel communication has become the standard across the industry, what do you think could be the next step?

RM: Setting up the right channels like chat, call centres and self-service are a great first step, but certainly not the only. Rather than implementing chatbots as a point solution, financial services providers must consider the role of chatbots in the end-to-end customer journey. 

A chatbot might be a great source for account balance information, but when it comes to more strategic decisions like setting up a retirement plan, speaking with an advisor would be more appropriate. Being able to connect the dots across different channels – from chatbot queries to loan application details – to facilitate valuable interactions will be critical. 

FM: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to mention?

RM: I believe FSIs will begin to develop a comprehensive strategy around sustainability as this will become a business necessity. The industry has the ability to take a leadership role by addressing environmental and climate risks. We’ve been seeing the pivot happening in wealth management as these institutions have established sustainable investing strategies and this will only become more comprehensive. I believe customers will use this as criteria as they evaluate various FSIs. 

Pictured: Rohit Mahna, SVP of Industries Advisors, Salesforce

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