Banking customers want more than ever - are you ready to respond?

With more options than ever before now available to savvy consumers looking to serve their financial needs, it is no surprise that banks must work even harder to stand out from the crowd. Key to this is offering an engaging, unique experience that attracts and, ultimately, retains customers. 

At the same time, the financial services industry is filled with banks talking about deploying innovative new solutions that take advantage of biometric authentication, AI and chatbots – all of which purport to be the future of banking. The question is, are these really the perfect solution to providing streamlined services for customers?

To find out whether banks are focussing their digital transformation efforts in the right place, NCR conducted a survey amongst over 1,000 UK consumers (aged 16+) to discover more about what is expected from banks, and modern banks in general. The results showed that consumer expectations go deeper than simply providing the latest and greatest, but focus on the need for personalised and easy to use products and services. 

An essential part of everyday life 

Not surprisingly, the survey showed the staying power of banking – of the 95 percent of respondents who claimed to interact with their bank in some way every week, 89 percent of those reported using online banking or mobile banking in the same time period. 57 percent used an ATM at least once, and five percent entered a physical bank branch.   

Nearly half (44 percent) of survey respondents consider the ability to use online banking as their top concern when selecting a new bank – something we certainly would not have seen in years past. It’s clear that the role of the physical branch is (and has been) changing as consumers become more selective in their use of in-person banking. To address this, and to keep customers more than satisfied, it’s critical that that banks find new ways to personalise their services being offered digitally, and provide a more engaging experience at every customer touchpoint in their branches and on their ATMs.

Services that can meet customer needs, whenever and wherever, are vital. Just 16 percent of those surveyed “strongly agreed” that their own bank is effective in working around their lives. Yet as more consumers turn to digital channels for the majority of their day-to-day activities, it will be extremely important for banks to find new ways to make these channels more personal and relevant to every individual customer. 

A personal, seamless experience 

Personalisation is a nearly universal concept in digital transformation stories that cannot be stressed enough – we have all received mailers, spam, or seen ads online that couldn’t be further from our own interests. Almost nine of ten survey respondents (87 percent) felt the same way, either agreeing or strongly agreeing that banking services should be tailored to each individual. What's more, 94 percent expect seamless services that works across all devices and platforms, while 91 percent want to see innovative solutions from their provider.

Delivering seamless, innovative services across the vast and differing banking landscape is certainly a challenge, and an omni-channel strategy enabled by the cloud will be crucial to achieving this goal. The foundational step in this is to roll out cloud services for existing parts of the banking ecosystem such as mobile and online banking. This will inform in-branch decision making, as well as enable faster roll-outs of new products and services to the widest possible range of customers. Once this is done, banks can begin to incorporate exciting new technologies into their data landscape.   

Time for banks to step up 

With the vast range of new technologies on offer, there are great opportunities for banks to respond to increasing consumer demands and deliver the services today's users expect. Key to this is the merging of physical and digital channels to create one seamless experience – powered by data.   

Technology solutions such as AI, chatbots and social media generate, rely on and store huge amounts of information about customers, which presents an opportunity for the banking industry. Banks can utilise this information to provide the best services possible to their customer, driving up customer engagement and loyalty. The challenge is having the software in place to analyse the huge volumes of data and accurately predict what services customers will want, and when. 

However, using this data responsibly and effectively will be crucial for maintaining a bank’s reputation – especially important as more than one third of respondents (35 percent) rate a bank’s reputation as one of the top three most important things about their bank. 

To achieve this, a successful omni-channel strategy is crucial, or data can end up in silos depending on its channel. This prevents customers from accessing a seamless experience, and banks from making the most of the data they hold.

As part of this, physical channels should not be overlooked. In addition to traditional in-branch banking, more than half of respondents (51 percent) stated that they would be comfortable using an ATM for a wider range of banking services in the future, while 54 percent would feel comfortable or very comfortable using such services at a high-end retailer when making an expensive purchase. 

New technologies are emerging every day, and it’s important for banks to keep up with the latest customer trend. However, without a dedicated omni-channel strategy and supporting software at the heart of the business linking all of these new systems together, the benefits will be limited. By ensuring that banks understand their customer across each of the different points of interaction, be they online or in person, banks can provide customers with the best possible experience, increasing brand loyalty and promoting cross-selling opportunities using data. The survey shows how important it is for banks to demonstrate to customers that they have a deep understanding of their personal desires and expectations. Those that are prepared to be innovative and embrace new technology have great opportunities to enhance their reputation and ensure today's extremely demanding customers remain satisfied. 

Joe Gallagher, Vice President & General Manager at NCR 

Image Credit: MK photograp55 / Shutterstock