“Customer journeys” and “user-centric design” seemed top-of-mind for most executives at this year’s Omnichannel Banking Transformation & Strategy Conference – topics historically uncommon in senior banking circles. The recent influx of fintechs and digital-first financial service providers has clearly raised customer expectations of convenience and the most forward-thinking execs in the industry are enthusiastically rising to the challenge.
We are all competing against the customer’s last, best experience
There is a growing realization that the disjointed and siloed customer experiences of the past (where little information was exchanged between product lines or communication channels), are rapidly losing competitiveness. Customers increasingly expect a single unified journey that can cross and re-cross channels. They expect their bank to know them across all its product lines and give them the freedom to initiate or resume their journey via whatever channel is most convenient at the time.
Sometimes when the task is complex like choosing and applying for a mortgage, a consumer may start online but then favor the personal touch of meeting an advisor in person. For simpler tasks like disputing a credit card charge, a simple button next to the offending transaction is often most convenient. If they have a question, the human or AI rep (texting via a chat app for example), will ideally know what has transpired thus far, reducing the need to explain. In all cases, if life or technical difficulties interrupt them mid-process they want to resume where they left off.
Achieving this transformation is not easy given the required cooperation among so many different bank departments. Those who have successfully navigated it strongly recommend a top-down mandate and org structure focused on a unified customer experience across silos. It is a fundamentally different way of looking at intra-bank cooperation and this does not develop organically without considerable pressure from above.
These market innovations are clearly accelerating and banks who do not embrace them will unfortunately lose their competitiveness and subsequently their client base. However no bank can do it all themselves. Those who are winning have focused on better delivery of their core enduring value while embracing an openness to new ways of achieving this. Fundamentally, customers still want security, convenience, good advice and competitive rates. Their ideal bank helps them improve their financial lives without having to change their habits.
To keep pace with innovation, many banks are re-envisioning their role in the value chain. Rather than trying to build or own everything end-to-end, they focus on curating the front end customer experience and relationship. Partnering with fintech companies to deliver the back end systems that enable it. This combines fintech’s skill in building magnetic user experiences with incumbents’ scale, customer trust, and regulatory expertise to create a best-of-both-worlds hybrid that benefits all parties.
This recent rapid pace of innovation is far from the “end of banking” as some have claimed. It is instead one of the best opportunities in decades for banks to improve and broaden their value to customers. The market leaders of tomorrow are those rushing to leverage this, guided by their deep understanding of core customer needs and how their organization’s existing core competencies give it an advantage.
Thanks to the Marcus Evans Group for the invite!
How do you think customer journeys and user-centric design will change banking in the years ahead? Let us know in the comments.