For an online banking experience to be truly memorable and tick all the boxes that make up a deeply satisfying experience, banks must go deeper than the thin surface veneer of the user interface.
But to do so, they need data that gives them a holistic view of their financial lives, even if they have to connect with a range of providers to get that.
Data, he says, can help financial institutions (FIs) recognize context, offer personalization, and drive customer satisfaction.
The Way We Bank Now
Brown said we live in an age where only a few people have only one account or one relationship with a sole financial institution.
He noted that individuals’ expectations of their online banking experiences shift, and standards are rising.
Brown’s observations come just as new PYMNTS data show that consumers plan to conduct nearly two-thirds of their banking digitally by 2024, with most expecting to do so via mobile apps or smart ATMs.
However, there’s a bit of a disconnect with all that upside opportunity, as only 9% of consumers surveyed said they would rate their current digital experience as “excellent.”
As Brown told Webster — only a bit tongue in cheek — “The industry has some room for improvement.”
There is still friction inherent in banking and finance today, noted Brown. And that friction, no surprise, drives consumers into the creative arms of more digitally nimble players, such as FinTechs.
Perception is Everything
Dig a little deeper, he said, and it’s not that the core functions of the neobanks or the other providers are different.
“It’s how they are presented to the consumer,” he said. To that end, banks and neobanks both take deposits, and they take and provide information about transactions.
But the experience, the ease of use offered by FinTech thus far, has outpaced the services presented by traditional FIs, said Brown.
The banks can take a cue here, where the experience matters as much, if not more, than the transaction that has happened. As a result, the question that lenders should be asking consumers, he said, is: How did you feel about it?
Examining the traditional FI experience through the lens of the customer experience presents both opportunity and challenge, said Brown. On the one hand, the FI has the opportunity to “surprise and delight” the client. The challenge comes when FIs come up short, when they’re upset or frustrated, the end user, who had looked for a seamless experience, but the bank failed to deliver.
PYMNTS’ research reveals a bit of an aspirational goal, of sorts, for mobile banking. As many as two-thirds of consumers surveyed would embrace a super app that ties together a range of activities under one digital umbrella — and many of us would like our financial lives to be simplified.
In the mission to fill the gap between consumer expectations and where FIs are today, he said, it’s important to ask just what consumers want that they are not getting, and taking it all a step farther, per Brown’s analysis:
“What are consumers not asking about that we are not doing yet?”
The Proactive Approach
In a proactive approach, he said, FIs have to look ahead and anticipate what individuals will need from their financial service providers months (even years) down the line — and introduce new products and services in advance.
He drew a parallel from Apple: No one knew they needed an iPhone — until they saw one and used one for the first time.
To that end, said Brown, the connected ecosystem is not just about what happens as we tap on the glass of a cellphone.
“It’s about what happens on the back end of all this,” said Brown. That means pulling a wealth of data through the connected ecosystem, keeping the customer informed from the beginning of a transaction through the end, with a reassuring confirmation (especially useful in the age of real-time money movement).
“You’re only going call it a success when you’ve completed the transaction all the way through,” said Brown — which spotlights the difference between making a payments experience real and satisfactory versus simply providing a “temporarily” satisfying one.
Moving toward a deeply satisfying experience, he said, entails helping consumers aggregate and keep track of everything they have — and teaches them how to use that data.
Thus, a deeper level of integration is needed, he said, with a connected economy model that leverages authentication management and links securely to aggregators. Consumers expect their banking to be convenient, yes, but also battle-tested, even battle-hardened.
If FIs don’t effectively walk the line of friction and security, if they don’t meet consumer expectations, they break the “sacred tenet” of trust that exists between the FI and the consumer.
“No friction and no aggravation is paramount,” he said, adding that “the cross ecosystem experience is what they are judging us on.”
Looking out into the new year and beyond, he said, FIs will make a more deliberate push toward personalizing end users’ experiences, using data to ensure that personalization takes place in context. A user’s need and intent as they look for a lending product will be different from the user seeking, for example, to open a savings account online.
NCR’s own offerings include Experience Groups, which enables FIs to test new features and designs right down to an “audience of one, if they so desire.” That functionality can help FIs fine-tune apps so that users are not stymied by the fact that (hypothetically) they can do everything but don’t know where to find or use the app. Successful apps know what an individual is trying to do at a certain moment and, with permission, then bring relevant offers and products into the mix based on that individual’s unique financial situation. He said that relevance drives customer action and, ultimately, satisfaction.
“We must humanize the digital,” said Brown, “and re-energize the engagement between banks and customers.”