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Richard Broadbent, MD banking at Wincor Nixdorf

Today’s consumer is more demanding than ever when it comes to the service experience they expect from their bank. Driven by customer experiences outside of the banking sector, there has been a clear shift in how individuals want to interact with financial services providers. Ongoing digital adoption means that convenience and choice are the driving factors behind how, when and where consumers want to access financial services.

In recent years rapid digital transformation has changed the game across all industries, which has not only opened up the market to competition but has forced banks to re-evaluate their customer service offerings. With fintech start-ups, digital challengers and new technologies, there is a risk that financial institutions could be in danger of not satisfying consumer demands and losing control of the customer journey.

The rise in digital and mobile services within the financial sector has largely been driven by consumer demand rather than through banking innovation and this trend looks set to continue. Although the benefits of digitisation are now clear, in comparison to other sectors, banks have been slower to react and innovate. As a result, the door has been left open for third parties to introduce niche services that are redefining customer experiences. This is particularly noticeable in the payments ecosystem where the introduction of financial offerings from companies such as Apple and Samsung are challenging traditional payment methods.

With consumers feeling more and more comfortable utilising a wider range of services from different providers, particularly at the point of sale, is there a risk that banks may be starting to lose the battle over who owns the customer journey? Would it even be possible to consider that in the future banks may simply become manufacturers of products rather than distributors?

Given that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of consumers still want to use their high street branch to access financial services[1] suggests that banks still hold the trump card, for now at least. However, rather than striving to control the end to end customer journey, banks may be better advised to focus their efforts on how they integrate the services of third parties to create a seamless and more compelling proposition. Without providing these options and accommodating consumer demand, banks could potentially risk alienating both existing and future customers in the long term.

Financial institutions must focus on re-evaluating end-to-end distribution capabilities to deliver the right product, through the right channel at the right time – seamlessly and consistently. While improving mobile and online channels is part and parcel of this strategy, restructuring the core branch environment should also be a key development area for banks. As technologies continue to evolve, banks will need to continually adapt by developing new customer journeys which complement the digital experience.

With rapid changes and developments within the industry it is difficult to predict exactly how customer journeys will evolve in the future. It is important to recognise that new and emerging services only form a part of the end-to-end customer service. If financial institutions look to retain control of the wider customer journey, they need to position themselves at the forefront of emerging technologies to react to and drive innovation. Integrating third party services into long-term strategies, whilst maintaining their own brand identities, will ensure choice and convenience remain at the heart of the customer offering.

[1] Deloitte report 2014

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