Coming out of 2020, there have been some significant shifts in how people bank and how financial services companies are improving their customer experiences. Many banks already had plans to adopt new technologies and shift towards more digital banking, but the pandemic, and dramatic shift in customer behaviors, drove a more urgent priority. This has translated to two major initiatives which are closely tied together: digital transformation and customer experience. In fact the primary goal for digital transformation is to enable a more sophisticated and integrated digital customer experience. 

There are a number of factors influencing what’s important to customers and how successful financial services companies are at creating better digital experiences:

Customer journey optimization requires speed and simplicity

Customers are not easily convinced by offers and promotions. It’s also no longer just about convenience. Instead customers base their decisions on the expectation that digital channels must deliver what they’re looking for with speed and simplicity and in context with their needs. They’re expecting the experience to be consistent across all channels, digital and in person. In other words, whether they’re at the ATM, banking on their mobile phone or desktop, or at a physical brand - customers want the same experience. They want to be able to perform the same tasks and transactions, regardless of the device that they’re banking on. 

Digital customer experience decisions based on design

Often customers will make an immediate decision based on design alone, and because these vary based on the digital screens of a platform, if they’re not optimized for specific devices, users will simply go elsewhere. In fact, 57% of customers won’t recommend a brand if they have a poor experience on a website, mobile app or other digital channel. More importantly, 50% of customers will stop visiting a website if it is not mobile friendly, even if they like the brand. This highlights just how damaging it can be in terms of customer retention and brand experience if companies don’t get digital design right. 

Globally, mobile devices are becoming the preferred digital channel for banking. It’s not just about convenience. As a result of the pandemic there are increased anxieties about touching shared devices such as ATMs. People would rather transact on their personal smartphone. Additionally there is a distinct shift towards facilitating contactless transactions by merchants and the banks that support them.

Personalizing the customer experience

Increasingly customers are looking to banks to help them navigate and find the best products for their needs at that specific time. The customer journey needs to guide people through the process and deliver a consistently good experience. Keeping in mind that this expectation will vary between different customer segments and demographics. Not all customer journeys are the same. Gen Z, for example, have a strong preference for mobile devices and for finding the information themselves. Whereas Baby Boomers are wary of digital channels and require more guidance and information.

A key challenge requires looking at the customer journey on all devices and consider how to present information in a way that is easy to understand and respond to. A key goal has to be to eliminate any anxieties and friction points which varies based on both the device and the demographics of the customer.

Personalization quickly becomes a key element to serving up what customers are looking for but it’s complicated. Banks have to navigate the issues of security and anxieties about personal information being shared. However, due to the very personal nature of banking, there is an opportunity to use the data already collected to make targeted offers to customers and increase their lifetime value. For example: By running demographics and risk analyses, banks can create a shortlist of customers that prequalify for products such as loans or credit cards. Specifically, they can even determine the value of those offers. Doing this ensures the offers are relevant and increase the chances of conversions.

All of these considerations highlight just how complex delivering great customer experiences can be. It comes back to the role that technologies such as AI have to play in improving the customer journey and creating meaningful experiences that connect with the needs of customers.  

Improving customer experience while maintaining security 

With the mention of AI, people often have concerns about security. Especially in financial services when you’re dealing with personal and sensitive information. In terms of any technology that’s being considered, companies want to know that the platform is stable, that the solution won’t impact the performance of a website, create user friction, or leave it vulnerable to cyberattacks. There is a strong trend to move away from the reliance of website cookies and third party JavaScript to render optimizations. Banks want solutions that reduce risk and create better integrations, optimizing and personalizing the customer experience. 

There are a limited number of AI platforms, such as Evolv,  that tick all the boxes and are playing a much bigger role in delivering better customer experiences. These platforms can handle the complexity of personalization and changing market demands , as well as meet stringent security and compliance mandates. AI is able to work through tons of variables and generate thousands of unique ideas and combinations that tie together all the factors that impact the customer journey. It delivers meaningful insights to digital leaders and is able to generate lift within a short time frame. This helps support the need to be more agile and customer facing in an ever changing marketplace. Something that consumer and retail banks need if they want to stay competitive. 

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