Banking on the go
Abdullah Al-Amoudi, head of application support at Arab National Bank, speaks to contributing editor Janees Reghelini on the importance of SMS in the digital era and why it is critical for the financial entity’s day-to-day business.
Digital services are now a part and parcel of our lives – not a single day goes by without us using the infinite apps that dominate our modern lifestyles, such as Spotify, Talabat, Careem, etc. Even our banking needs had transcended the physical realm – when was the last time we visited a branch? Instead, we effortlessly use our phones to make payments, transfer money, open an account, apply for a credit card, and the like. Customers want to easily communicate with businesses in the same way they access their services on demand. Interestingly, however, SMS still plays a vital role in helping digital organisations stay in touch with their users.
It is incredible that the venerable Short Messaging Service (SMS) or text message, first developed way back in 1984, used for the first time in 1992, is still critical in the digital era. In fact, SMS is fundamental to the overall mobile banking experience, says Abdullah Al-Amoudi, head of application support at Saudi Arabia-headquartered Arab National Bank.
“It is a powerful and immediate direct channel available to us to communicate with our customers and assure them of authenticity and security while doing their transactions,” explains Al-Amoudi.
Arab National Bank utilises several flexible tools to extract data and insights during a customer’s journey. In addition, the bank has developed internal solutions, from surveys to user experience monitoring, to ensure customer experiences. This includes its mobile banking app – ANB Mobile, which allows customers to do full-fledged banking transactions conveniently from their smartphones.
“Our application aptly meets all the requirements a customer may have for their banking demands and helps us in our overarching goal of achieving zero visits to the branches. SMS communication and marketing is essential for the success of our day-to-day business and services,” he says.
“One-time passwords (OTPs) are mandatory for every transaction today. Customers also rely on SMS updates for their bank statements. If customers do not receive an SMS confirming their transaction, they immediately call the bank to check if the transaction was successful or not. SMS has become a trust layer for all customers today,” he adds.
Al-Amoudi points out that having SMS integrated into the bank’s internal CRM system has helped the financial entity to greatly improve its operational efficiencies.
“This has enabled us to evaluate our response frequency with our clients, quantify the texts sent to each customer, and assess if we are providing them with updates at each stage. The insights extracted allow us to make better decisions and help enhance our operations.”
According to the bank’s applications head, ensuring optimal customer experiences is at the heart of everything Arab National Bank does. To further elevate customer experiences, it has selected Unifonic – a customer engagement platform that enables the bank to offer seamless omnichannel client journeys.
Established in 2006 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Unifonic offers SMS, voice, and WhatsApp communication services to large enterprises across the Middle East and North Africa. The company helps organisations unify communication channels for enriched customer experiences and streamlines conversations at all touchpoints throughout the customer journey. It provides solutions to maximise customer engagement, optimise communication ROI, and improve customer experiences.
“I have worked with Unifonic in my previous roles and can completely vouch for its flexible infrastructure and innovation, which helps us to advance our business significantly,” says Al-Amoudi. “Unifonic has a clear roadmap in place that they present to their customers every year. This allows us to plan and make sure our objectives are aligned. Unifonic met all our selection criteria, which included scalability, exceptional quality, and 24/7 support.”
Arab National Bank has been working with the company for the past four years and has recently availed Unifonic’s new monitoring service. “We can check the dashboard for each transaction and know when and from where it was made, why there is a delay, and so on. It gives us improved visibility and helps us provide better quality services,” says Al-Amoudi.
He notes that while SMS will remain a critical part of their customer engagement strategy, the bank is also looking to onboard emerging technologies in the future that will help it implement more automation, analytics, and cloud services.
“In the near future, the market will see us introducing many new services and technologies that are low-code in line with our digitalisation goals,” he concludes.