Digital transformation has been one of the key priorities for the C-suite in the banking sector for a few years now. In 2017, Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs said, “We are a technology firm. We are a platform.” Being the head of one of the most influential organizations in the global banking sector, his words were a reflection of how leaders in the banking space were focused on enabling more digital friendliness across operations and particularly at their customer touchpoints.
The COVID-19 pandemic has become an accelerator for banks and financial service companies on the journey to becoming digitally-aligned.
Studies by Boston Consulting Group pointed out that post the pandemic one in four customers would reduce or stop paying a visit to a bank branch altogether. A growing number of customers expect their financial needs to be taken care of digitally.
So, the question that banking organizations need to ask themselves is: What does a typical customer expect or want from a digitally friendly bank?
Here are the top 4 elements that should be on your radar, if you are to offer a superlative customer experience through digital transformation.
Gone are the days when a customer would physically visit a branch, fill up forms, provide proof, and wait for hours or days before getting access to a personal account. Today’s customers expect banks to offer a swift and mostly self-service approach to opening an account and on-boarding. They expect ease of use and convenience while flowing easily through regulatory and KYC processes.
Surveys have also found that if you need customers to be loyal to your bank and recommend your services to their friends and family, then the account opening and onboarding experience needs to be fast and flawless. With digital transformation, banks can invest in highly user-friendly self-service portals or mobile apps for on-boarding. This will also equip front-line banking staff with better tools to capture customer data faster and seamlessly onboard them in a matter of minutes.
Customers are eager to transact business with the bank once they sign up. Digital onboarding processes that help progress on that road help build confidence and a clear sense of preference.
As with other sectors like retail, customers are increasingly demanding personalized attention and services from their banking partners as well. Be it meaningful offers on interests for loans, flexible repayment tenures, or convenient loyalty and reward point management, customers expect banks to offer them the right options for their specific financial circumstances. Banks need to create product bundles and service offerings that are personalized using the data customers share at different touchpoints. This will improve the customer experience while also increasing the likelihood of customer uptake. An example could be sending a personalized promotional offer for a credit card that offers more points for flight bookings, to a customer who is a frequent flyer. He or she would be more interested in this particular card than a customer who rarely travels.
Customers are looking for assurance that they matter to their bank and that the bank understands their needs. Banks that can demonstrably provide that assurance, stand to win customer loyalty and gain a share of the investment dollars of the customers.
Post internet banking, financial transactions take place 24 hours a day all through the year. Customers may require support from their banks on any challenges they face at any time of the day. At the same time, they would not appreciate a lengthy process of getting in touch with a banking associate to answer their queries. Rather than maintaining round-the-clock customer support teams, banks can turn to AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants to help customers figure out issues and solve them with minimal help. An early example of the success of this model of autonomous customer support can be seen in Bank of America’s bot, Eric. The chatbot application served a record 1 million users in the first 2 months after launch and today has over 10 million users accessing the chatbot for their support needs.
Customers want effective support, the faster the better and when cutting edge technology can provide that, a superior experience inevitably results.
Banks are the custodians of the wealth of their customers. A primary expectation customers have from their bank is that the bank will not only safeguard their funds but also help them grow. Customers want banks to help them save and to advise them on how to invest optimally. They want curated information and ease of transacting business when they do decide to invest. They want the ability to transparently monitor the status of their investments. And they want the confidence that they are getting the right advice. This is vital for improving the loyalty of customers, in the long run, driving up transactions, and improving outcomes. Spanish banking giant BBVA offers a feature called Bconomy in its dedicated mobile app which allows customers to set financial goals, create a savings plan and track how it progresses with time and offers decisions on how to save money while shopping for essentials and paying utility bills. As of March 2019, the service had over 2.1 Million monthly users.
Customers pay attention to the innovative technology-driven services that banks can provide as long as those services are relevant, meaningful, easy-to-use, and, most importantly, aligned with the financial goals of the customer.
The digital wave is already visible in the banking sector. By leveraging technology, banks can offer comprehensive financial solutions to their customers suited to their unique needs. The success of such digital transformation initiatives could lie in their acceptance by the customers. As we have seen, customer expectations are clear. It’s now up to the banks to meet them. With the help of technology, of course.