Bankers are evaluating their innovation investments more closely as customer expectations continue to skyrocket and margins shrink. Technology spending shows no sign of slowing any time soon. In fact, Insider Intelligence forecasts that U.S. banks’ overall technology spending will grow to an estimated $113.71 billion in 2025, up from $79.49 billion in 2021.
The evolution of the fintech marketplace is challenging banks to strategically choose their next fintech project and calculate the return on those investments. How do they ensure that they’re spending the money in the right places, and with the right providers? How can they know if the dollars dedicated toward their tech stack are actually impacting the bottom line? They can answer these key questions by evaluating three key ROI drivers that correlate with different stages of the customer journey: acquire, serve and deepen or broaden.
The first ROI driver, acquire, relates to investments focused on customer acquisition that are often the main focus of new technology initiatives — for good reason. Technology that supports customer acquisition, such as account opening or loan origination, makes bold claims about reducing abandonment and driving higher conversion rates. However, these systems can also lead to a disjointed user experience when prospects move between different systems, each with their own layout and aesthetic.
When bankers search for solutions that improve customer acquisition, they should ensure the solution provides the level of flexibility required to meet and exceed customer expectations. A proof of concept as part of the procurement process can help the bank validate the claims made by the fintechs under consideration. Remember: A tool that is more configurable on the front-end likely requires more up-front work to launch, but should pay dividends with a higher conversion rate. A style guide that describes the bank’s design principles can help implementation go smoother by ensuring new customers enjoy a visually consistent, trustworthy onboarding experience that reinforces their decision to open the account or apply for the loan.
The next ROI driver, serve, is about critically evaluating customer service costs, whether that’s achieved through streamlining internal processes, integrating disparate systems or empowering customers with self-service interfaces. While these investments are usually aimed at increasing profitability, they often contribute to higher customer satisfaction.
An often-overlooked opportunity is to delegate and crowdsource content through nonbank messaging channels, like YouTube or Reddit. A Gartner study found that millennials and Gen Z customers prefer third-party customer service channels; some customers even reported higher satisfaction after resolving their issue via outside channels. A majority of financial services leaders say they are challenged to provide enough self-service options for customers; those looking to address that vulnerability and improve profitability and customer satisfaction may want to explore self-service as a compelling way to differentiate.
The final ROI driver is about unlocking growth by pursuing strategies that deepen or broaden your bank’s relationships with existing customers while expanding the strategic core of the company. A study by Bain & Co. evaluated the effectiveness of different growth moves performed by 1,850 companies over a five-year period. Researchers found six types of growth strategies that outperformed: expand along the value chain, grow new products and services, use new distribution channels, enter new geographies, address new customer segments and finally, move into the “white space” with a new business built around a strong capability.
The key to any successful innovation initiative is to view it not as a one-time event, but rather a discipline that becomes central to your institution’s strategic planning. Bain found that the average companies successfully launches a new growth initiatives only 25% of the time. However, that rate more than doubles when organizations embrace innovation as a cyclical process that they practice with rigor and discipline.
As your bank seeks to better prioritize, optimize and evaluate its fintech investments, carefully consider these three key ROI drivers to identifying where the greatest need stands can help. This will ensure your institution’s valuable technology dollars and employee efforts are spent wisely for both the benefit of the customer and growth of the bottom line.