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Banking in a digital-first era.

August 3, 2021 By: Lori Niquette

Banks and other financial institutions are known for providing consistent service and value to their customers. Times, however, are changing. The COVID-19 pandemic fueled a huge shift to digital platforms, challenging the approach to the digital banking experience with more competition and opportunities to differentiate. So, how are banks rethinking their digital experiences to innovate at the speed of their customers? 

This was the goal of our recent executive roundtable with guest speaker, Peter Wannemacher, Principal Analyst at Forrester. Tackling all things related to the digital banking, we heard concerns, successes and learnings about how to improve the customer experience. Here are some of the major trends we took from our conversation:

Making digital a priority.

Forrester found that 40 percent of U.S. banking customers today believe all banks are the same. As financial services move predominately to digital platforms, this perception can hurt customer loyalty and long-term retention. Becoming digital-first has been a priority since before the pandemic. What the past 15 months have done is solidified that the majority of banking will be digital in the next 5-10 years, if not sooner. To effectively meet customer needs, banks need to be making the digital customer experience a priority. 

Unfortunately, customer experience isn’t always prioritized and easily falls to the wayside if issues in regulation or business operation arise. Quantifying their digital customer experience, banks can show its impact on business growth to improve buy-in across the organization. 

What it takes to be customer-centric.

With the quick move to digital platforms, bank leaders are now more focused on creating customer-centric experiences. It’s important to meet customers where they are and empower them with the tools they need on whatever channel they use.

Seeking to match the experience happening in a branch, banks first need to understand that what customers want online is completely different. If a customer starts a loan application online and is then required to call or visit a branch, they could abandon the application altogether. It’s important banks offer digital options that reflect how their customers interact with businesses today. Reviewing real-time customer insights to identify blockers in the digital experience reduces this type of customer frustration, especially on mobile platforms

Building innovation.

Many banks are also looking for more ways to innovate without putting their digital experience at risk. It’s about striking that balance between offering innovative services, and remaining the same trusted provider customers have used for years. New services can be enticing, but it can also create uncertainty, impacting customer trust and loyalty. This is where the right data is critical. Banks need predictive and real-time data that show them how new changes and innovations will impact their relationships with customers. 

To balance customer-centricity and digital innovation it’s critical to stay connected across teams from customer service to IT. This provides a holistic understanding of customer needs and how they are changing. Quantifying insights and building daily goals help teams to evolve, but stay true to their brand. 

Managing back-office processes.

Banking leaders agree, customer-centricity and innovation are only sustainable if driven by a strategic approach to data analytics. Leaders are looking for ways to better:

  • Identify if customer needs are a problem or new trend in customer demand – How should teams classify and prioritize customer requests? Not every requested change will make a valuable impact on the business. 
  • Increase clarity on the value of the customer experience – Quantify its impact on the business, customer retention and loyalty. This helps prioritize the digital customer experience first across the organization. 
  • Build alignment across teams and data tools – Leaders find they are catching different customer anomalies in different dashboards, used by different teams. To create a holistic view of the customer experience, there needs to be true cross-team sharing and visibility. 
  • Move from reactive to proactive customer engagement – Integrating data from voice of the customer surveys and other feedback to help transform digital journeys. This is what makes banks truly transformative, anticipating potential issues, rather than waiting for complaints. 

Applying the methodology of Continuous Product Design, can empower banks to be customer-centric, drive innovation and prioritize the digital customer experience. CPD helps fuels needed change in organizational culture, removing data silos and aligning team under one goal – supporting the customer. 

One thing the transition to digital-first won’t change is the need to build human-first experiences. Using CPD to capture, quantify and prioritize real-time insights, banks can create meaningful engagements that have a lasting impact. 

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