Gone are the days where banks could bank on customer satisfaction through keeping fees minimal, services secure, and branches on every street corner. We’re beyond the point where banks can be well...just banks. Banks are brands now, and to build brand loyalty, especially with the next generation of potential life-long customers, they need more interaction, more personalization, and seamless services that transition to growing digital lifestyles.
Digital and mobile continue to be the preferred method customers use to perform everyday transactions, check account balances, make payments, and get general information about bank services and offers. So why is it that banks are still having trouble with mobile satisfaction? A 2015 J.D. Power study points to a simple phenomenon: “Satisfaction with mobile banking and ATMs is dropping as customer expectations are outpacing technology improvements,” said Jim Miller, senior director of banking at J.D. Power.
In addition, the study found that despite increasing functionality offered in mobile, satisfaction dropped 10 percent from 2014 to 2015 because fewer customers indicated they completely understand it, and only 46 percent of customers who completely understand it say they “definitely will not switch banks.” That number drops to 34 percent for those who only partially understand it. It’s no surprise that a majority of these numbers come from Gen X and Gen Y customers.
These findings should come as a wake up call to banks and credit unions. A sound digital investment is necessary to capturing the business of a multi-generational customer base that is breaking away from the branch. It should not only provide monetary returns, but it should provide intangible returns as well. Committing to customers means adjusting to their needs, and the landscape is proving to be a technological arms race.
Where banks can step up: Omni-channel engagement that’s easy to use
Banks simply can’t put all their eggs into a one-channel basket anymore, even if it means optimizing mobile. Omni-channel engagement is a top priority for banks, because their customers are spread out in a multitude of communication channels and opportunities now exist virtually everywhere - from SMS, to Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps, email, websites, mobile apps, and more. The inherent problem with hopping from channel to channel in the past has been a lack of consistency in UX, thus confusing and frustrating people who want to do less and get more from digital service.
To be a serious player in the omni-channel game, banks must:
- Achieve consistent cross-channel execution
- Create efficient digital processes
- Personalize experiences to deliver relevant, simple, and easily bought offers
- Apply technology that keeps the enterprise agile and innovative but is easy to adopt for customers
- Help customers get what they need faster, to ultimately drive quick and informed decisions
According to a Pegasytems study, 89 percent of financial institutions expect to achieve full omni-channel integration by 2020, but truthfully, they may not have that long. Gen Z, or the Millennial cohort, probably won’t want to wait another four years. To a twenty-something who’s grown up in the digital age, that’s simply an eternity, and without long-time roots in retail banking, a customer like that is liable to choose the next best bank. Bots provide an outlet for all banks and credit unions to secure that customer, and bring Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers easily into the fold as well. Why? Because regardless of age - everyone knows how to text and that’s the best way bots communicate.
Making the case for bots in banking
Bots should see major traction with retail banks for two reasons:
1. Since they are easier and cheaper to develop, and can be deployed to various communication channels at once, banks won’t fall behind more agile players in the fintech marketplace. Bots don’t require rip-and-replacement of strategies banks have already started with digital, only an enhancement.
2. They communicate using natural language, which means for a customer completing a task like transferring funds, making a mortgage payment, or opening a new credit card can be as easy as speaking or sending a message. And no matter what channel the customer is in, the bot processes tasks and converses with people the same way. It’s like a virtual brand ambassador that’s always at the ready for a customer.
Bots have enough versatility and functionality to help increase ROI on the enterprise side, and enough extensibility and user-friendly qualities to keep customers happy and engaged with a brand. It’s the next step in digital investment for banks beyond the mobile app era. Apps don’t converse with customers, they don’t learn from customers, and they don’t respond to customer needs. The burden of work is therefore placed on the customer. A bot-guided experience removes that burden and creates a pathway for personalized engagement.
Some contend that enterprises put too much stock in Millennial preferences, but if the short history of digital innovation has taught us anything, it’s that Gen Z is used to a hyper competitive marketplace - which means banks need to be ready to join the fight.
To learn more, watch our webinar: Chatbot Must-Haves for Banking.