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Evolution of the service desk

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IT consumerisation is forcing many banks to re-think their approach to service and support. Gary Pruden, Fusion Business Solutions CTO explores how banks can improve both customer service and staff productivity with the aid of an e-service desk

Banking services are improving by the day as technologies evolve; first ATM machines, then internet banking and now the mobile wallet. By 2015, new, external social web and cloud-based services are expected to generate 25 per cent of consumer-driven banking products and services [Gartner]. gp66

Today’s consumers now expect a more fluid IT banking process to match the emergence of these applications. And, with consumer service levels on the rise, business users now too expect a better level of service and engagement from their IT system, mobile devices and applications.

The service desk is evolving in line with these requirements. Whether it is a customer wanting to find out how to access their online bank account or an employee looking to reset their internal banking passwords for customer accounts, an integrated e-service desk enables both to communicate instantly with the firm, solving any problems fast and effectively.

The changing IT landscape
Thanks to the advent of internet and mobile banking applications, today’s consumers have the freedom to access banking services from almost anywhere. This self-service approach has freed-up branch staff to concentrate on more complex customer queries and core business functions. It enables a firm to work more effectively with less staff.

The mobile wallet is even making it possible for customers to pay for goods and services by swiping their smartphone over an electronic pay point. While this technology is not yet fully developed or widely deployed, it is starting to open up a range of new banking opportunities. Just last month, a banking mobile application was launched that allows users to send money to other bank accounts via their smartphones.

Already, many employees are bringing their own devices into the workplace so that they can work with the latest business applications on the most advanced technology. In a recent Accenture survey, more than a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents said that they would be prepared to pay for their own devices and applications to use at work.

The boundaries between corporate and personal devices are blurring. In the past security and compliance has been a major barrier to the adoption of personal devices in the work place. Yet, today, two large banks are overcoming the challenges and are seriously considering accepting consumer-owned iPhone and Android handsets.

The changing service desk
IT consumerisation is driving the need for the service desk to be as responsive and effective as possible. The service desk is a critical part of customer relationship management for any bank. It is the first point of contact with customers and employees looking to resolve problems and check on services. 

Modern solutions enable managers to streamline business processes and produce a framework for reducing costs while maintaining quality service levels. Managers now have visibility into the entire IT environment; user information no longer has to be collected verbally from users, instead this can be done automatically, through the amalgamation of data streams.

Service desks should be equipped with e-service solutions that incorporate both self-service and chat functions. These functions provide a more convenient user experience for those familiar with the speed and level of interaction that social media and other forms of online chat offer.

The most advanced e-service desk solutions include an animated 3D virtual agent that utilises artificial intelligence and integrates with existing knowledge repositories to provide users with an online, self-service model for resolving common issues. Using this style of solution, both customers and employees can receive highly-sophisticated automatic responses. This removes the need for an operator altogether, giving service desk and call centre workers time to deal with more complex queries.

Users can ask questions via live chat sessions, with the added benefit that there is no phone queuing involved. A typical service desk agent can handle up to three or four chat sessions at one time, enabling IT departments to work more productively with less resource. 
Such solutions, can determine key facts in the initial troubleshooting process. This information can then be embedded into the call ticket and the information can be used by a call operator. 

Adoption of SaaS
The move to outsourced software-as-a-service (SaaS) within the banking industry is a laboured process. In light of potential data security issues, most banks are reluctant to move away from established on-premises solutions. 

Using a SaaS solution, banks may feel that their sensitive data will be easier to attack as all data is stored on a hosted platform, yet this is not the case. Precautions can be put in place by the provider, such as data encryption. Every day more data security standards are being established to ensure information is safe from theft and data tampering.

With the growth of IT consumerisation and the evolution of banking applications, there is an increasing pressure on the banking industry to offer more responsive and interactive service desk solutions. Over the next five to ten years, financial institution

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