Improving the customer experience — one that is increasingly digital — has become a key objective for most banks. In fact, 78% of the executives and directors responding to Bank Director’s 2019 Technology Survey cited this as a top objective driving their institutions’ technology strategies.
But accomplishing this is no meager feat. The vast majority of community and regional banks lack the resources to focus on the issue internally, leaving many to rely on their core provider to approximate the experiences consumers have come to expect from innovative retailers like Amazon.com and Apple.
However, some banks are considering new, innovative solutions to meet their customer experience goals. One such example is Searcy, Arkansas-based First Security Bank. The $5.5 billion asset institution partnered with Apiture to improve the customer experience and drive more to use the bank’s mobile app.
Due to the results Apiture has achieved for bank clients like First Security Bank, the technology company won the Best Solution for Customer Experience category at the 2019 Best of FinXTech Awards. Winners were selected from the most innovative solutions found in the FinXTech Connect platform; Narmi, another mobile banking platform, and Exagens, a virtual personal banker, were the other two finalists.
“[Mobile is] where customers live, and that’s where they want to be able to understand their financial picture,” says Scott Brady, senior vice president of marketing at First Security Bank. Apiture’s digital banking platform, which features personal financial management tools, digital account opening and payments services, as well as cash flow management for business customers, fit the bill. The company also offers a third-party marketplace, so banks can identify outside solutions that can be used in the platform.
Apiture redesigned First Security Bank’s digital user interface, recategorized transaction data and added a “spending balance” feature that helps customers better understand their account balance, based on pending transactions and upcoming bills. “Our customers don’t keep a check register; they don’t try to maintain and understand what their balance is. They want to be able to look at either their mobile device or their online account,” says Brady.
The bank was actively involved in updating the online and mobile experience with Apiture, which it released in the first quarter of 2018. But the biggest challenge wasn’t in the implementation — it was the communication with customers about the improved experience. “The first time you log in, you’re going to see something completely different,” says Brady.
The bank emphasized employee education so they could answer customer questions, and put together an FAQ to aid in communication. Overall, he says the transition went well, and the bank received a lot of positive feedback from customers after the dust settled.
And that’s resulted in 40% more customers using the bank’s mobile app, he says. While some of this points to the importance mobile delivery now plays in banking, First Security has offered a mobile app for almost a decade. “If we weren’t providing a product that our customers valued and enjoyed using, we wouldn’t see that growth,” says Brady. “The phenomenal growth we’re having in both online and mobile is a result of the fact that it is a great end-user experience.”
Almost three-quarters of First Security Bank’s customers now bank digitally.
Apiture’s level of customer support is another key benefit for the bank, which interacts with a dedicated customer success manager who is “always available” to troubleshoot problems. “When you’ve got 80,000 online banking customers, support issues are daily,” says Brady. Being able to resolve these problems quickly through a dedicated contact makes a big difference to the bank, he adds.
More than two-thirds of respondents to the 2019 Technology Survey report that enhancing digital channels was included in their bank’s technology budget for fiscal year 2019. Given the competitive pressures facing the industry, it’s easy to see why. “As a community bank, we can’t develop these solutions on our own; we rely on our vendor partners,” says Brady. Despite a “great relationship” and strong incentives to use their core provider’s solution, the bank ultimately chose Apiture’s superior solution.
“Money talks, but if the solution does not provide a better experience … your customers will vote with their dollars and take them somewhere else,” says Brady.