I’m often asked for recommendations for innovative features and capabilities for various financial institutions, so I compiled a partial list of my top features. These are the things I would love to build for a bank or credit union if I owned the digital product for that institution.
DCX—Digital Customer Experience
FinTech firms, retail commerce, and companies like Uber and Airbnb have pushed customer expectations extremely high, forcing FIs to provide equal or even better customer experience and features to their customers. FIs must either disrupt or be ready to get a gift of disruption from their competitors. Like retail businesses compete with their comparable products while distinguishing themselves by providing unique customer experiences and customer satisfaction, FIs are facing a similar situation and thus must provide the best customer experience to retain customers. Basically, FIs have to take action to become more than a repository for customers’ money and manage other aspects of their financial lives. Banks that do this are more likely to succeed against new market entrants that make it easier for consumers to switch to non-bank providers to manage payments, obtain loans, and handle other financial services.
Oracle's "The Era 1 Enterprise: Ready for Anything" report found that 80% of financial institution respondents said their organization has experienced a trend toward consumers wanting a more individualized experience, and 43% have experienced this trend from employees—but only 17% give their organization an “A” in its ability to offer these experiences to consumers and only 10% were able to do the same for employees. Of a greater concern is that 71% of bank and credit union executives say the shift is a growing challenge in their ability to compete effectively.
Most retail banks focus on cross-selling products to existing customers. But, if these customers are not engaging with the bank, in the absence of DCX, a different strategy is needed.
Personalization and Individualized Experience
Every time I open my banking app to check my credit card transactions it takes me 3 clicks/taps before I get to that information. Why not provide a user an option to pick and choose what he/she wants to see as the landing screen after a user logs in instead of forcing him to the account dashboard at all times?
Do you think a millionaire receives different treatment in a branch than someone who has a $100k balance?
Would you expect a bit more from your bank if you’d been banking with them for several years?
It seems like a no-brainer that the answer is “yes.” But all this happens in a physical branch and not when you use your bank’s mobile or online app. This is an important step FIs need to take while going digital.
As no two FIs are the same in terms of market focus, segmentation, technology, etc., no two customers are the same in terms of their expectations, balances, investment plans, etc., so providing them an individualized experience can significantly increase the customer satisfaction index.
Imagine this: A user walks into a car dealership and gets a notification to scan a car’s VIN to check the monthly installments if he/she opted for a car loan with the bank. The user also gets notified to check the loan calculator section in the app to play with the numbers to see what down payment, term, and APR make sense for her. The next day when she opens the app, she sees an ad on the login screen offering a competitive APR. The user clicks on the ad to check the details and at the same time, a new lead is generated in the bank’s CRM system so that a loan officer can follow up with the customer. The loan officer calls the customer with all the details she would need to know, such as MSRP, down payment amount, term, etc., shortening the entire sales cycle.
Leverage data/Big data
Who else would know as much about a customer as his bank? For example, a bank employee can easily access a user’s salary, spending habits, expenses, geo location, and a lot more simply by looking at recent activity. So far, banks have done nothing with this data, but they could use predictive analytics on this data for a) customer retention, b) detect and mitigate fraud and risks, c) increase revenue, and d) decrease costs. Advanced analytics and big data are perfect examples of methods to increase revenue from existing customers.
Use geo-location, social engagement, and other supporting data to facilitate proactive, personalized interaction with bank experts. This fosters trust, delivers what customers are looking for, and builds long-term relationships while remaining regulatory compliant. Strong cybersecurity is also a key component of building trust with consumers, as well as protecting reputation and brand.
93% of customers look elsewhere for financial advice and this is a huge opportunity for banks to tap into.
Omnichannel is not multichannel. Almost all banks provide multichannel support for their banking products but not omnichannel. Omnichannel is geared more towards providing a seamless multichannel experience. In other words, omnichannel means providing all current and innovative features on all, channels rather than just providing one feature on one channel (i.e. having a feature available via online banking but not via mobile banking. Omnichannel also means providing innovative features such as robo advisor BOTs, video call, PFM, wallet, new account opening, cards management, claim dispute, calculator, message center, etc.
A significant focus is being placed on providing a seamless experience across channels while capturing data about the interaction, customer intentions, and preferences to be more relevant.
Build brand value across all channels by integrating channels to provide a personalized and consistent customer experience. No matter which channels are used, customers want more than anonymous banking relationships. They want to be known and receive personalized attention, support, and services.
Get rid of siloed systems
One of the big hurdles in using big data, predictive and advanced analysis to its full extent in a bank is the bank’s siloed systems. The typical 4 segments in a bank—Sales & Service, Governance Risk & Compliance, Core Processing, and Corporate Operations all use different processes, technologies, systems, etc. The retail banking division doesn’t know if a customer has a mortgage from the same bank; when your call is transferred to the credit card department from a checking account agent, you are asked all the security questions again; and so on.
An integrated platform aligned to a holistic architecture view can help break down processes, applications, and data siloes across the bank fostering shared services and resource capabilities. The result can drive cross-divisional insight and upsell capabilities, reduce costs and risks, and improve customer satisfaction.
Break down and integrate customer data silos so FIs can understand where, when, and how your customers are engaging with them. Then collect customer data and analyze it to develop a 360-degree view of each customer. This will help FIs transcend traditional banking to become relevant, valued financial partners to your customers.
Hire people from other industries
FIs should be open to hiring technologists and inventors from other industries to think outside of the box. Often FIs hire heavily experienced professionals from the same industry, which is good, but they carry the baggage of thinking within the same boundaries and limitations. Hiring professionals from other verticals would help FIs to bring in new perspectives and thought processes.
FIs can no longer survive by just offering checking and savings accounts; in order to survive, they should offer 3rd party products based on customer needs and context. Offering a broader range of services boosts customer loyalty and retention. To distribute products through a 3rd party, FIs should embrace the use of open APIs and standards.
Until the latter part of the previous decade, FIs offered services based on what could be processed rather than what customers needed. That has changed.
Successful digital transformation begins on the outside with an analysis of customer preferences and behavior and leads to major customer-centric changes within the enterprise driven by digital technology. It’s more than taking existing bank processes and presenting them in app form. It goes to the very heart of the business, with the objective of revolutionizing the customer experience. Excellent customer service is at the center of growth strategies for banks globally.
AI, BOTs, and IoT
Think about the next step. CGI is already witnessing the next phase, which is characterized as “deep digital.” Deep digital is the digital transformation of bank organizations and processes to lower costs, respond to aging workforces, remove paper, use agile infrastructures and standard application components, and connect everything as we move to the "Internet of Everything."
How many times have you called customer care to check a routing number to do a wire transfer, to check about a transaction, to inquire about a disputed transaction, etc. All this can be handled in a cost-effective way through BOTs and AI.
Use the rich customer intelligence and AI to support a wide range of partner and bank reward programs to build loyalty, such as preferred rates on car financing, discounts on various products from the bank and third parties, cash back offers, and more. The payback is not only more loyal customers, but also new income streams and new sources for acquiring even more customer data.
Although Blockchain is the last item in my list it’s not the least important. I am very confident that it will be the first item to consider for many FIs in coming months/years.
Smart contracts is one of the use cases many FIs are doing a PoC on and this is going to save a lot of costs to the FIs. Cambridge Blockchain is also doing a PoC on Identity Compliance. Irish funds is another firm actively pursuing PoCs on blockchain.
The future is bright for FIs that embrace technology and strive to provide the best customer experience possible.