By Howard Berg, SVP Gemalto
Over the past five years we’ve seen significant changes to the way consumers behave as they go about their day-to-day lives, many of which are largely driven by technology. Today, consumers have things much more on their own terms when it comes to service delivery,connecting to what they want, when and where they want it; all of which makes them increasingly expectant when it comes to service consumption.
This expectation is also impacting the banking sector, forcing banks to change how they view their relationship with both technology and consumers; because as consumer expectations are evolving,the interactions between customers and banks are too.
Following the global economic crisis of 2008, banks naturally fell out of favour with customers. In 2015, truly connecting with customers and making their financial transactions more convenient is still something financial institutions struggle with.
According to KPMG’s latest annual bank benchmarking report, issued in April 2015, it is in the best interests of banks to focus on connecting with customers. The report reveals that customer relationships, and elements around trust are major profit drivers across the industry, and in order for banks to increase profitability, enhanced customer engagement is key.
It’s clear that there is an issue that needs to be dealt with here, when it comes to boost customer engagement. And banks can help address it by adoptingnew technologiesthat support the delivery of digital services. However, although providing customers with more value is essential to success, it must not be done at the expense of security, which needs to remain paramount.
As well as improving customer engagement, digital services will also help to reduce overall costs and increase margin to drive profits.So not only can banks create happier customers, they will also achieve a healthier bottom line.
Bringing bank services into the 21st century
Consumers are now treated to a wide range of retail experiences. As they compare their experience with banks to that of other retailers, such as Amazon or Starbucks, we must ask what the future of banking services should, and will, look like.
The retail industry has shown that the technology is already available to help banks enhance the customer experience and reduce overheads. As the digital landscape started to progress, so did consumers expectations, needs and habits. Retailers were responding to customers evolving needs, so it was clear to banksthat this is a lead they should follow. However, having started along this path, the end goal should be to eventually pioneer the way in both customer experience and innovation.
The customer is king
Regardless of whether a customer is new or longstanding and loyal, adopting a customer centric approach to the design, offering and implementation of new digital services will always be vital.
Every single time something new is offered to a customer, it creates a fresh touch-point – offering the opportunity to further develop, enhance or even redefine the existing relationship.So no matter who the customer is, every element of contact with them from the initial acquisition of the account, to offering new online and offline banking services,must be highly scrutinised.
Once the customer actually opens a new account,they will generally be payment-focused. They will wantto make payments quickly and easily with the flexibility to use their preferred payment method. This could simply be acredit or debit card, or other progressive options such assmartphones,wristbands or stickers.The ability of a bank to issue payment credentials quickly across multiple devices, online and in proximity, is of the utmost importance.
These new, all-encompassing payment methods offer an attractive value proposition for banks, but they also have to accept some responsibility. Working with retailers can ensure these new payment methods can be delivered conveniently and securely to consumers.
Cultivating the customer relationship
Once a customer has opened an account, the onus then turns to retention – ensuring the customer is not only happy with the service but also feels completely safe and secure in their banking activities. Whether relating to directcommunication, data exchanges or payments, security will always be a key issue for consumers. One bad experience can be disastrous, turning a customer away for life.
As a result, being able to guarantee the confidentiality and integrity of customer data stored, transferred or exchanged in the digital banking ecosystem is crucial. As traditional in-branch banking services lose ground to new online banking services, creating an increasing need to authenticate users online, the need for security will only rise as customer data becomes increasingly closer to the threats that exist in the online world.
Digital technology has already transformed how businesses interact with customers and is now revolutionising how banks serve and interact with theirs. However, this ‘new way to bank’ not only requires a change in process, but also a change in culture from banks and customers alikeand although banks can’t change customer culture overnight, they can start pushing them in the right direction.
Banks are still recovering from the global banking crisis, bothfinancially and in terms of their relationship with customers. However, by fixing the latter, they can address the former, and new technologies are key to this.
By utilising innovative technology, banks can do more to service shareholders and customers, as the two are intertwined. In the long run all parties will benefit – but only if the customer user experience and security remain front of mind.