How can Banks drive Customer Engagement and Self-Service?

Published on 07. June 2020

In the past months, we have witnessed Banks struggling to support their Customers, and not being able to, assess, and provide rapid solutions to their problems. With COVID-19 not slowing down, there’s an increased likelihood of further Branch Closures and limited Customer Support Teams. 

Traditional banks are removing products as they cannot keep up with the constant changes and uncertainty.

Banks need to leverage non-traditional solutions to keep their customers happy, protect their margins and acquire the right resources that can work in an autonomous way with a proven operating model and a manageable tech stack.

Digital natives actively use this opportunity to listen to their customers and understand their problems and are agile enough to pivot quickly to add new relevant products which if fail, will fail fast and small with beta releases to selected customers to get feedback, incorporate, before releasing them to the whole customer base. 

Banks can be truly digital with the help of these digital natives, and it’s often faster, and cheaper than dealing with the Jenga stack of code and spending millions upon billions of dollars.

Why do banks require digital channels to engage and support customers?

We can infer that over the years customers who onboard in a traditional manner i.e., through branches/in-person, will most likely use these channels in the future to either complete transactions or ask for support. However the opposite is true, customers who start their relationship with the bank through the app/web, to onboard digitally will use these channels going forward. With the app/web being self-service which we’ve seen drastically reduce the costs to serve each customer.

These solutions should be across as many channels as possible, mobile app, web, your Bank Website, ATM’s, Agents, USSD, etc


The Chat platform

This platform enables customers to easily engage with the Bank at their convenience. You can incorporate as many channels as possible with services like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, in-app, website, etc. in order to be flexible and to seamlessly fit into your customers daily life.

Key Benefits

  • Customer Service Agents can handle more than just 1 customer at a time compared to a phone call thereby increasing efficiencies.
  • Customers get better Customer Experience as they can go about their day rather than spending hours on hold, which is a much efficient process.
  • A  chatbot can help significantly, where FAQ can be automatically routed to simple solutions, or even to modules of the application. A Simple example: “How do I freeze my Debit Card?” → “The response is a link to the Card Management area of the application” or a link to a short video for services outside the application which will reduce the number of requests, provided that you have these self-service functionalities.

Forum Platform 

A platform for users and customers to come together to ask and answer questions, give insights, and engage directly with the bank. This can be implemented in two ways:

Through external Platforms

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn social media platforms are great for Customer Service and positioning your products and services via advertisements. However with these platforms, you do not own the data, and only have access to a certain subset, which gives you less understanding of your existing and potential customers profiles and behaviour. 

Though owned Platforms

These platforms allow you to organise Social Media Platform to how you see fit - whether this Platform should be targeted at Retail customers, or maybe even SMEs, you have total control over your platform and data.

Some high-level areas include:

  • Discussion: To foster discussions on financial topics
  • Customer Suggestions: allowing customers to add their suggestions and vote on the most wanted new feature, or addition/change to an existing feature
  • Customer Feedback: any planned changes to the banking platform, get real-time consensus on proposed changes, or even give customers options on how they would like to see the change implemented.
  • Market Research - Customers can  buy your products with reference from Competitor Research provided by Banks/FI’s

Rewards and  Gamification 

Within the standard banking products, there isn’t much to differentiate between banks, other than fees/rates. This is where adding elements like Rewards and Gamification to your services can increase the engagement with your customers and stand above the competition. We see Rewards as a key component to Customer Self-Service as you can drive the customer behaviour into more profitable actions.

Let’s say you want your customers to use the Mobile Application to process their payments as this is the most profitable channel, then you can reward the customer for completing it within the application, rather than just adding fees to the other channels (carrot rather than the stick) whether this is cash-back or points which can be redeemed with a partner or a full Rewards Marketplace.
Gamification can be coupled with rewards, to give an enhanced engagement experience for the customer. This becomes very powerful in Financial Education, not just within the specific bank products, but more generally around how to budget, build savings accounts, options to finance/lease a car etc.

Gamification is helpful for the bank in two areas:

  • Financial Literacy: users become educated and more willing to use these financial products (don’t buy what you don’t know), and because you have provided this value to the user and started to build trust which is, therefore, more likely for the user to become a customer.
  •  More insight into Customers: would you be more willing to lend, or even consider the customer to be less risky if they’ve completed a financial management course? Questions like these can be answered with insights.


Consolidating these platforms into a data platform is required, whether that be a data lake, and or data-warehouse and this data must come from all channels including all customer touchpoints, Bank Operations data. Not being able to understand this data after you have collected it will only add up to  IT  costs. We need  Data Analytics Machine Learning & AI to transform this RAW data into a more structured and usable format.
Once you have wrangled this data, you need to build a level to bring business value to this data. This can include, segmenting your customers, not just on their location, age, salary, but on their interests, their needs, and interactions with the Bank. After intelligently segmenting these customers, you need to build Marketing Automation Flows or Origination flows around it. This doesn’t have to be just customers as non-banking users can use these services such as Forums/Chat, even build loyalty points to build profiles and marketing automation flows to acquire these customers.
For Example, Google uses intelligent tagging across their platform every time you use Google Search, Maps, Youtube, etc you’re constantly being tagged to build a profile on your interests. These tags can then be used to perform advertisement personalisation on their billions of users down to the individual, the amount of data Google can track is overwhelming. Just in the same manner, the data that we’re collecting from the chats, forums, applications, etc should all be used to build a profile on each customer so that you can serve them better, not just with cross-selling new products, but also understanding how to sell them.

Self-Service & Bank Products

It is important to understand the needs of the customer and then guide them through an origination flow for that product and service, whether it is onboarding, lending, or transactions. Therefore the creation of the origination process is necessary where the focus is the customer journey and that this journey is as fast, as simple, and contains as little friction as possible, or the customer will eventually drop and will not consume these products & services. 
For Example, if a user on the owned forum (not necessarily a customer) is posting questions or is part of groups, or interested in SME loans, then this data should be captured, and processed automatically and a notification must be sent whether email, SMS or in-app to enrol them into a Marketing workflow funnel to ultimately acquire that customer and product.

3rd Party Products & Services

With 3rd Party Products and Services, you will not only be able to provide recommendations to your own products but also be capable of incorporating your partners.
For Example, a scenario where one of your customers has made a down payment on a car, you can recommend your partnered insurance automatically and ensure that consents and data are shared or in another case, a customer has applied for a loan which you haven’t recommended, but you give an option for the customer to quickly apply for your Partnered Fintech in crowdfunding or P2P lending. The goal is to become the one-stop financial shop for your customers, whilst also increasing and diversifying your revenue. But where a number of Fintechs/partners will have their specialities and USP’s it’s also imperative that the bank is able to embed their Market Leading products & services within 3rd Parties to increase their reach and acquisition.

Recommendations and Advertisements

This involves creating a process in place to listen and understand how the customers are using your products and incorporate their feedback for better Customer Experience. For example, a customer would recommend personal financial advice or saving tips no matter where he/she is.His/ her bank could take this recommendation and work through incorporating this functionality into their banking experience.


All of these functionalities mentioned above are combined into a single platform: The Fidor Community which can go live in a matter of days or can be set up on-premise for your bank’s convenience. We also offer consultancy packages to kickstart the Community, from building communication playbooks, and even creating content for the Community as the focus and value of any engagement platform comes from the content within it. 

Download Fidor Community Brochure

About the Author

   Max Johnson-Head of Business Solutions, Fidor Solutions-Dubai

Max brings to the table extensive banking knowledge with experience of designing digital banks across Europe, West & Sub-Saharan Africa and SE Asia. Combining this knowledge with his prior experience of heading an analytics team that designed global complex reporting solutions, facilitates his ability to build complete digital banking solutions. We can affirm his skills through his comprehensive experience in creating business cases and business modelling for digital banks all over the world.