Electronic Delivery: The Communication Method For Funds In The 21st Century
Customer service communication methods have grown exponentially over the history of the financial services industry.
The 70s boasted face-to-face, personal sales and service, allowing customers to “touch” and thus trust the companies with whom they conducted business. As the pace of life accelerated, sales and service via telephone became an additional accepted method of consumer communication in the 80s.
Major financial service companies quickly expanded this service to 24 hours. Currently over 35% of business is conducted during non-business hours.
The 90s brought the age of Voice Response Units, and customers are now comfortable conducting 30% of their business without human intervention.
During each evolutionary phase of customer contact, financial service companies worried that prior communication methods would become obsolete or diminish in value. Interestingly, all communication options are alive and well. Giving customers choices simply increased retention, brand loyalty and the number of times they communicated with their financial service providers.
In the 21st century, over 50% of American homes possess one or more computers. Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable conducting business and communicating with their providers electronically, especially with the purchase and service of mutual funds and variable annuity products.
Although a majority of the major financial firms provide Web sites that offer sales and marketing information and the ability to perform simple transactions, few provide customers the option to receive full service electronically.
The advantages for customers are numerous: They are able to access current, compliant information at their command, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For customers with laptops, cell phones, e-mail and PDAs, this convenience extends to anywhere in the world.
Electronic communication can be a distinct advantage. How many of us have been caught in the proverbial telephone “queue purgatory,” knowing we cant afford to stay on the line but cant afford to hang up after waiting 15 minutes? E-mail can fulfill the same need without inconveniencing the customer. An answer can be provided immediately, or customers can be alerted as to when they will receive a response, saving precious time and eliminating aggravation.