With the focus on the potential of digital solutions to support the fight against Covid-19, companies have had to act with agility and resiliency to provide these services. At the same time, customers have had to get accustomed to new ways of working, consuming and communicating.
Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, we had already embarked on a journey to increase the resilience of digital services. This put us in good stead over the period, which is ongoing. However, nobody could have predicted the depth of the crisis and, while we were in a position of preparedness, we took on learnings as the situation unfolded and adapted quickly in response. For example, some of Standard Bank’s processes still required physical interactions with customers. This meant implementing changes to ensure that was no longer the case. And as digital solutions were rolled out, security capabilities, notably the DigiMe strong authentication feature, were enhanced.
When considering the circumstances, consumers responded positively to digital solutions. This is also in line with our customers’ increasing preference for convenient and more cost-effective digital channels over traditional ones. Those who were making use of digital channels before lockdown continued to do so. Since the start of lockdown, we saw an increase in adoption of the Standard Bank Mobile App and the USSD capability. Meanwhile, the DigiMe security capability saw increased registrations from 100 users per day before lockdown to more than 1300 users per day.
Some interactions, however, remained stubborn. Many of those who adopted digital in the lockdown period needed additional help and guidance around navigating digital services due to unfamiliarity. Some customers are apprehensive about adopting digital services and there remains an education barrier that we need to overcome.
We assume the move to digital is simply the click of the button. Rather, the customer wants to feel reassured before changing their behaviour. This becomes even more pronounced in the current circumstances and, as a result, we experienced high call volumes over the lockdown period. Typically, around 20% of customers change their behaviour after receiving reassurance or assistance via the Standard Bank call centre or branch. This reaffirms the importance of ensuring that there is a friendly, helping hand available for those who feel intimidated by digital. The two must exist symbiotically.
Desire for simplicity
Interestingly, and importantly, Standard Bank customers who battled with digital opted for a simpler offering. Whereas some did not change their banking behaviour at all under lockdown. The significant increase in USSD adoption tells us that customers prefer simplicity. It is also important to acknowledge that digital apps are not available for everyone. We are, however, enabling multiple platforms to make life easier for all of our customers.
However, while digital services may not be for everyone, they do have a key role to play in the current environment and provide a way for individuals to continue with their banking without placing themselves at risk. That said, we are focused on increasing simplicity, and the availability of help and guidance to assist customers through the transitions and changes that they may be experiencing. While we were first to provide payment relief, we also want to be leading the charge in how we help people think about their digital lives. That is why we are starting to provide solutions to help and guide customers through any bumps they may experience.