Accelerated digital investment gives Middle East banks a decisive advantage post-COVID

While adapting to the ‘new normal’ has presented challenges for a number of Middle East industries, the region’s banks have been quick to double down on their technology investments and enhance digital services – both for customers and employees says Yaser Alzubaidi, Vice President – Sales Specialist Organization, Avaya International

According to research recently conducted by Avaya, 50% of banking customers express a preference towards ‘digital only’ service channels such as online banking, mobile apps, chatbots and social media. In response to these customer preferences, in recent years, banks have been spending billions of dollars on digital transformations initiatives, and globally, some of the largest financial institutions globally have continue to reinvest larger percentages of their yearly revenue into technology. This trend is perhaps even more pronounced in the GCC, where thebanking sector has been a clear frontrunner in digital transformation among industry verticals.

Moreover, recent restrictions have disrupted traditional service channels, further accelerating these digitalization efforts. Time-to-implementation cycles have shortened significantly as banks turn to the latest technologies to elevate digital services, omni-channel customer support, and team collaboration.

Pioneers Set the Pace

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Middle East banks have accelerated roll out of fully-digital branches, virtual banking services, self-service chatbots and other digital innovations in a bid to deliver world-class experience and convenience for customers. These initiatives perfectly address key customer satisfaction drivers as outlined by our research, including using new digital technology to be super-efficient (41%), allowing customers to communicate how they want, when they want (36%), and providing a consistent level of service every time (35%).

As an example, one of the largest banks and most reputed banks in the United Arab Emirates has further enhanced its customer-centricity through collaboration with Avaya. Working with us, they have gained the ability to draw incredible customer insights from voice-based engagement between customers and contact center agents. Using voice analytics, every single voice engagement is turned into actional insights that can drive revenue while also increasing relevance for each individual customer.

Aside from this, technologies that enable contact center agents to work remotely and solutions that enable seamless, persistent collaboration between internal and external stakeholders have been foremost among those that regional banks have requested from Avaya this year. In the coming months, the need to rapidly enable remote workforces and ensure customer service capabilities are not disrupted by ongoing developments will continue to drive IT spending in the region’s banking sector. Here too, first movers will gain a competitive edge as 59% of consumer respondents in our research indicate that consultations with financial advisors by video would contribute to making them ‘happier’ customers.