Retail, Technology

The Battle for Digital Banking Gets Personal

Last year was a pivotal point for digital banking. The key to a successful digital engagement going forward will be staying focused on the needs of people.

The coronavirus pandemic forced digital adoption levels to reach new heights, exposing both strengths and weaknesses. Nearly all bank executives and directors responding to Bank Director’s 2020 Technology Survey reported increased adoption and use of digital channels due to Covid-19. Banks responded by filling the gaps in digital customer service with online support, lending and account applications, account opening and more. They accelerated existing digital plans by several years. Digital adoption will continue at record levels in the rebound from the pandemic. Personal engagement will be the biggest differentiator among banks.

There’s no doubt that digital competition is rising: mega banks seem to be adding bots by the minute, Square adds payroll services, Intuit’s QuickBooks offers bank accounts and business debit card, and PayPal Holdings now lends to small businesses. But people are tired of dealing with the lack of human-centered service they receive from big banks and big techs. None of these companies provide personal service in the way community and regional banks can.

In order to differentiate their digital strategy, bankers should understand that there is a limit to what self-service tools can achieve, and that there is a difference between personalized and personal. Technology should not replace personal service and trust – it should catalyze meaningful and personal digital interactions in a virtual environment. Bankers should use their digital platforms to better understand customers’ preferences and respond to needs with prompt, local support.

Your bank’s survival depends on its ability to adapt and evolve quickly to this new digital ecosystem. This requires working with open technologies – or risk being held hostage by challenging integration environments. As technology providers, we must be supportive, compassionate and bridge-building, allowing bankers to control their own destiny by bringing in fintechs of choice.

Consider Midwest BankCentre, a recipient of Jack Henry’s Celent’s Model Bank Award for Community Banking Transformation. This $2 billion bank in St. Louis was recognized for launching a separately branded digital bank, Rising Bank, to increase its deposit base and support continued growth. It launched in only six months and gathered over $130 million in new deposits in the first year. Rising Bank leveraged open APIs to easily integrate with modern and real-time technology partners, including customer onboarding systems and risk mitigation platforms, building the platform exactly the way leaders envisioned. The bank’s open technology infrastructure lowered the cost and barriers of innovation, while also developing an environment that is scalable and sustainable for the future.

The speed of digital customer service is also critical for the user experience and customer satisfaction – one digital representative can chat with seven to 10 customers asynchronously. This gives your bank the ability to acknowledge customers’ needs immediately, creating a psychological peace of mind from live, local support. It also expedites the moment of need to the resolution. Then, in the same secure thread, you can engage customers in conversational marketing: selling in the context of personal service. These sales, like the ones once made in the branch, are based on human-centered interactions and support. Banks that learn to sell in the digital channel, using the context of service, will find success.

According to research, 84% of consumers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. Personalized experiences drive loyalty: 70% of consumers say a company’s understanding of their individual needs influences their loyalty. Personal service and support is where your bank can win the battle for digital engagement.


David Foss

Board Chair & CEO

Dave Foss is the board chair and CEO at Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., a leading provider of computer systems and electronic payment solutions primarily for financial services organizations.

Prior to Jack Henry, Mr. Foss was vice president of professional services and later vice president of operations managing large remittance processing solutions BancTec. He became vice president of sales for community banking at BancTec in 1997. In 1999, he arranged the sale of BancTec’s financial solutions division to Jack Henry and Associates, joining Jack Henry at that time. From 1999 to the inception of ProfitStars in 2003, he served a dual role as president of the open systems group and general manager of the complementary solutions group. He was named president of ProfitStars in 2004, president of Jack Henry in 2014, CEO in 2016 and on July 1, 2021, he was appointed as board chair.