Banking used to be a completely people-oriented business. Customers chose the bank that was closest to their neighborhood and went inside to interact with bankers for every transaction and question they had.
But now, what customers look for in a bank and how they interact with their money is changing. Customers now bank more digitally and want convenient technology-driven solutions. According to Beth Johnson, CXO of Citizens Bank, delivering a strong banking experience is now about tapping into customer needs holistically by leveraging technology, data and in-person interactions.
The goal of modern financial institutions is to drive change while still keeping the customer front and center.
Johnson says the pandemic accelerated the digital path Citizens was already well on by three to five years. Banking was already evolving, but customer preferences have changed drastically over the last 18 months. Understanding those changes and adapting the experience strategy is crucial to banks’ success, especially in these three areas:
- Complex digital interactions. Over the last 18 months, the way customers are willing to interact with banks digitally has gotten more complex. Customers are now more willing to have emotional and complex conversations through digital channels, where in the past they were only willing to discuss things like their financial futures in person. Johnson says the change marks a big switch for the industry and has forced banks like Citizens to expand their digital offerings to make it easier for customers to conveniently have those complex conversations.
- AI capability. The ability of AI to impact business is changing rapidly, especially with developments in personalization, cybersecurity and natural language processing. In banking, the biggest innovations are in real-time AI capabilities. Customers have gotten used to instant service in other industries and now want it in banking. Johnson says one of the biggest use cases of these capabilities is in real-time payments to move money seamlessly and instantly.
- Role of brands. Just three years ago, the vast majority of customers chose a bank because it had a convenient physical location. Today, the biggest factor in choosing a bank is brand perception for its products, community involvement and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Banks need to develop brands that do more than just offer convenient locations and put their customers and communities first.
Going forward, banks won’t compete on products because products are too easy to copy. Instead, they will compete on their ability to tap into the rational and emotional sides of money to deliver innovative and convenient solutions to customers.
Banks must stay on top of changing customer preferences to deliver strong experiences in the ways that matter most.
Blake Morgan is the bestselling author of The Customer of the Future. Join the waitlist now for the new Customer Experience Community here.