Digital trends are here to stay, but it’s important nobody is left behind

As lockdown gradually eases, many of us still dread the thought of sitting through another Zoom or Teams call or attending another webinar.

But in that moment, it’s important to remember just how lucky many of us are to have roles in organisations able to adapt and operate in a remote, digital environment.

At Danske Bank we realise that moving online has not been easy for everyone. In fact, for many it has been incredibly hard – whether for families with no access to the technology needed for home schooling, or for others who didn’t have the skills to access vital online services necessary for their daily lives.

Danske Bank is proud to have become Business in the Community’s Digital Champion for the financial services sector, committing to work with other member organisations in the private, public and third sectors to help improve digital skills and plug the digital gap.

As a first step, we contributed to Business in the Community’s Digital Donations campaign, providing 90 recycled laptops to schools to help disadvantaged young people get connected. It is an important campaign that we’ve welcomed being part of.

But for us the main objective longer-term is providing the skills people need to become digitally confident and participate fully in a digital world.

At Danske, digital touchpoints have far outnumbered other customer interactions for some time. As we’ve adapted to the pandemic and continued to invest in our digital offering, we’ve seen the pace of adoption of digital channels rapidly accelerate – with logins to digital banking rocketing and online payments and contactless transactions easily outpacing the use of cash. But while it is undeniable that consumer trends and behaviours are changing, we are also aware that not everyone has been able to move online.

Over the last year, given the impact of the pandemic and ongoing lockdown restrictions many people have chosen to bank online rather than make the trip to their local branch. Lots of other aspects of our daily lives have been impacted too and moved online. From grocery shopping online, virtual church services and catching up with friends and family on a device rather than seeing them in person. Many of us doing this for the first time.

So, how have we responded? To help we set up dedicated phone lines for older people and healthcare workers, created a Step-by-Step guide to banking from home and produced ‘how-to’ videos which covered everything from how to setting up online banking for the first time to making a payment. We also significantly increased our use of video meetings with customers and in fact, today many of the meetings we have with customers are conducted remotely.

We’re also supporting customers with digital education in person, with digital specialists in our branches to help customers learn how to use the online services that are available to them and also to overcome any concerns they may have.

As Northern Ireland’s biggest bank we believe we have a responsibility to help create a truly digital economy that works for everyone and to help Northern Ireland grow again in a way that is both responsible and inclusive.

Through Covid-19 we were reminded that a proportion of society had no way of interacting with the online world. As the world opens up again, some elements of life may return to pre-pandemic norms, but we expect the trend towards digital to continue and there is still a real risk of some people being forgotten in the process.

Let’s support them and make sure nobody is left behind.