Demonstrating Empathy Through Technology

Many banks are still trying to determine which consumer preferences and behavior changes are permanent, given the shifts that have occurred over the past 24 months.

During this time period, I’ve spoken with hundreds of bankers and the prevalent theme emerged: The need to respond to customers in a timely fashion, and assurance that there is go-forward alignment with the right business model.

At this point, institutions should consider further exploring ways to refresh customer experience or tackle questions about feasibility, with a focus on defining the strategy for a more competitive customer experience and acquisition structure in today’s digital economy. A strategy that successfully addresses customer needs depends on the ability to project empathy. Executing this in an omni-delivery ecosystem requires financial institutions to effectively listen to their customers’ needs and respond with information or options that are relevant and timely.

There are solutions that financial institutions can leverage today to demonstrate empathy through a listen-respond model. This involves embedding “listening posts” within six functional areas including:

  1. Website sensory: Detecting and interpreting customer needs based on digital behavior. Based on this insight, banks can quantify a customer’s intent and propensity-to-purchase and apply decisioning to trigger the “best” engagement, which could include digital advertising, lead capture or engagement campaign deployment through digital or human channels.
  2. Customer engagement responses: Applying analytics and decisioning to quantify and respond appropriately to customer interaction with campaigns. Desired responses include launching a survey, clicking a link to complete a fulfillment or accepting an invitation for other services that offered by the institution.
  3. Personal financial planner: Obtaining self-disclosed information related to customer needs through unique personal financial planning tools. With goal-centric solutions, the customer selects primary and secondary goals that could include meeting monthly expenses, housing, transportation, education or retirement. The user enters financial information such as income, expenses, assets and debt. By listening to customer goals and financial position, the solution can identify segmentation, quantify customer value index and calculate goal achievability.
  4. Omni-channel fulfillment: Tracking fulfillment attempts and automatically deploying abandonment retargeting campaigns to increase conversions. During the fulfillment process, listening posts can detect customer progress through the application. Through fulfillment completion, a bank can use a decision engine to select an appropriate onboarding engagement plan based on the product selected and any additional anticipated needs.
  5. Staff interaction: Quantifying and monitoring customer satisfaction and attrition risk scores related to personal engagement. Branch and contact center staff listen physically, but they also contribute to digital listening. For example, missed service-level agreements and customer complaints contribute negatively to customer experience and impact predictive attrition risk, triggering customer action. Banker-assisted fulfillment, followed by positive customer survey feedback, can increase satisfaction scores.
  6. Attrition risk: Identifying and quantifying attrition risk factors and proactively and reactively mitigating them. Digital environments can lead to increased customer attrition due to decreased face-to-face engagement.

Solutions can quantify behavior and sentiment indicators based on information that is detected through embedded listening posts. Automated decisioning can respond when thresholds are met and deploy appropriate engagement. Leveraging management insight through key performance indicators and reporting allow banks to monitor, track, execute A/B testing, perform trend analysis and optimize the listening-response model so they can better understand and meet customer needs.

Meeting customer needs requires engagement over time. When banks can understand their customers’ needs through listening and respond with relevant engagement, the customer feels heard, and the institution benefits from increased acquisition, relationship expansion and improved customer experience.

What Should Your Internet Banking Platform Look Like?


internet-banking-06-24-15.pngInternet banking is undergoing a transformation. In many ways, this evolution of the legacy Internet channel is being driven by the emergence and potential prominence of mobile banking. According to a report from the Federal Reserve, Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2015, “the prevalence of mobile banking continued to increase, reaching 39 percent of mobile phone users with bank accounts and 52 percent of smartphone users with bank accounts.”

As Internet and mobile channels continue to evolve, so does the proliferation of other device categories, such as wearables, including smart watches. The expansion and convergence of these new categories give financial institutions the ability to better service customers and create a consistent user experience regardless of channel.

This is not about a single channel handling all customer interactions; users will likely choose all channels, and some will likely lead over others. Rather, it is about a blended experience across channels. Ask the management team of any community bank if they still offer telephone touchtone banking and the answer is yes. Channels rarely go away and there is nothing wrong with that. Again, the challenge is blending all these categories.

How Does This Impact Internet Banking Today?
The Internet channel can be classified as legacy technology. The way a customer uses the channel, the screens they see, the features available to them, are all “set-in-their-ways” and reflect a certain very specific design sensibility. No doubt this is a powerful legacy, so much so, that when the industry started creating the mobile banking experience, it was highly influenced by the Internet. Internet led the charge. Internet defined the standards. Then something changed. Mobile devices became ubiquitous.

According to the Federal Reserve study, as of December 2014, 87 percent of the U.S. population ages 18 and older owned or had regular access to a mobile phone. The smartphone was the most popular type: It runs applications in addition to accessing the Internet and functioning as a phone. The application is the single most significant part of this evolution toward smartphones. Easy to use, much more fun than the Internet and reflecting a new design sensibility, the smartphone marked a departure.

Mobile Is Now Driving the Evolution
The Internet needs a refresh. It is a somewhat old and stale legacy technology that has not been seriously refreshed in a decade. This technology and design refresh is being led by mobile. Internet banking will start to look like mobile banking apps, which have proven to be “cooler” and easier to use. And all of them will start to have a consistency in the features offered and their look. The customer wins. They get to do whatever it is they are trying to accomplish, via whichever channel they choose. The end result is a platform that is convenient, consistent and engaging.

The Best Customer Experience
There are many industry terms that try to encapsulate the concept of the many customer channels. The phrases “digital channel” and “omni channel” represent some of this industry jargon. We all generally agree that the goal is to have mobile, Internet and other systems provide a consistent experience for a customer. Bank boards and management teams should demand that the channels converge around whatever makes the best sense for the customer. The technology and the design sensibility are all avenues to the primary goal of creating satisfied and delighted customers.

The good news is that this is attainable today in a way that was never imagined a decade ago. The technology involved in delivering customer channels, such as Internet and mobile, have matured and in many ways blended due to industry forces and the regular movements of the technology markets. This is good for bankers and good for customers. This next step of transforming Internet banking will create the next big opportunity for banks to differentiate their digital strategies.