The financial industry faces unique challenges in appealing to the needs of both tech-savvy, modern consumers, and old-school clients who would rather visit a local branch to talk instead of downloading a mobile app or navigating a website. The banking customer experience is different for both crowds, but they share the need for a modern and refined experience.
On the one hand are the Millennials, who dislike banks in general and prefer to manage their finances through digital channels like Apple, Paypal, or Square over a national bank. For this crowd, the less human contact the better. On the other hand are the older generations, who tend to be slow adopters of digital channels, prefer brick-and-mortar and expect human interaction by default.
It’s not an easy task to cater to both, but there’s good news: banks can kill two birds with one stone by improving their core customer experiences. Here are the 5 techniques and strategies we find are the most important today.
5 Techniques to Improve your Banking Customer Experience:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Online Banking
- Digital Integration to Mobile
- Augmented and Virtual Reality
- High Touch Customer Service
1. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence offers a wealth of possible implementations that’s practically limitless. Applying data science and machine learning can offer numerous benefits to consumers: hyper-personalized recommendations to restaurants offering card-based discounts, enhanced security data analysis and fraud prevention, customized financial guidance based on spending habits, and much more. The only limit here is the bank’s imagination.
On the bank’s side, even rudimentary AI can greatly improve operations like customer support. Chatbots and related tech solutions can support agents by analyzing the more common problem areas and automating solutions for simple questions and tasks. This in turn will free up human operators to give higher quality service to clients that want it.
How about security applications? Take a look at this strategic investment Citibank made with Feedzai in 2016. Feedzai, the global data science enterprise, works both for online and in-person banking by constantly analyzing data in real-time to identify fraudulent patterns.
It’s important to remember that in all cases, AI is a valuable tool for efficiency and automation, but it doesn’t take the place of human expertise. On balance, it will make those experts far more agile in their roles than without. But sometimes, human operators have a sense that machines can’t make up for.
2. Online Banking
In a Digital Banking Report, it’s shown that 82% of consumers go online first to research a product, and 59% of those never speak to a representative. You know, just in case there was any doubt that you need a digital arm these days.
While most banks have managed to offer some online functionality to users, we’re talking less about making the feature available and more about improving on it.
The fact is, too many banking websites don’t focus on the customer’s journey, or give enough attention to each touch point. A banking website should not only invest in security, but ensure easy accessibility. That means designing an efficient user experience on a variety of devices from tablets to smartphones, while maintaining a consistent brand identity throughout.
Next is the depth and usefulness of the information you include. Because customers are less likely to speak to a representative during their research, you need to provide as much information as possible to make customers feel empowered in their decisions. That also means having a channel available when the customer needs a helping hand. Whether that’s a call number to a service rep or submitting a help ticket, it should be straightforward and obvious to access.
Bank of Melbourne and First Tennessee Bank are great examples of successful website design. They held the top spots in The Financial Brands’ rating of 20 Visually Stunning Website Designs From Banks & Credit Unions in 2017. You can take a few lessons from the way their site navigation is laid out, and what options they provide the user upfront.
3. Digital Integration to Mobile
Today’s customer wants to seamlessly manage their banking needs while responding to emails or surfing “the gram”. Digitization and mobile apps give customers the ability to get things done quickly and with minimal effort.
WellsFargo is a perfect example of making the most of digital integration. In 2017 the company introduced a new feature that allows customers to use their smartphone instead of a debit card at the ATM. With the WellsFargo app, users can request a one-use code at the ATM to access their account. This offers a convenient and secure alternative for customers that some customers wish their bank offered.
While many banks already have an app, WellsFargo shows how banks can go beyond the basic digital tasks like checking balances, paying bills, and monitoring accounts. They create more personalized customer experiences delivered in a way today’s tech savvy customer will be satisfied with.
4. Augmented Reality (AR) / Virtual Reality (VR)
Augmented reality and virtual reality can turn the routine bank trip into a unique experience, one that customers are just beginning to expect as the technology sees adoption in more and more sectors. While you may turn up your nose at the idea of a VR bank run, you also shouldn’t count it out so early in the game.
Some banks have already adopted AR to enrich their CX. The National Bank of Oman uses AR to make finding nearby branch or ATM locations easier, as well as displaying store deals that customers can take advantage of.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Halifax in the UK offers a “home finder” app that use AR to show users information on houses that are for sale as they pass them by in real-time.
AR/VR has the potential to help customers interact with representatives in new and engaging ways, without having to leave home. It’s an opportunity to build upon a routine bank visit and that may, like AI, give staff room to dedicate themselves to better in-person service.
5. High Touch Customer Service
Each of the technological methods mentioned can be integrated to create great customer service. However, human interaction should never be replaced by digitization – just augmented. The value of good customer service remain the same.
In fact, in a Forrester ranking of CX, customer service was the single most important driver category for direct banks. In addition, the report found the top emotions that drive loyalty for direct banks were feeling appreciated, confident, and valued. One way to identify the moments in the customer journey that trigger these emotions is through a high touch approach, a hands-on service model with lots of smaller touch points.
This approach can also help identify and anticipate gaps in expectations and flaws in the experience that need improvement, which are even more important in improving customers’ perceptions of banks.
A quirky example of high touch is Umpqua Bank’s ice cream truck that sweetens their customers’ visits. This doesn’t mean you need to have a food truck outside of the office, but it’s a testament to how an out-of-the-box approach is memorable and impactful, which is the real goal.
Banking brands have to take immediate and precise action to integrate technology into their CX in order to maintain and earn trust with potential new customers. A CX revamp that focuses on convenience, personalization, and establishing trust is essential in order to thrive.
It begins with seeing the gaps, investing in technology to enhance customer engagement, and staying relevant in a fast changing economy.
Dayana Aparicio Originally from Panama City, Panama, studied Sociology and Business Management at Georgia College & State University. Customer Success Specialist and Junior Content Producer at Worthix. Focus is on present and future trends in customer experience.