Consumers are now realizing that banking, like any other product/service purchase, is one that will be rewarded through research. Banking consumers are applying their purchasing power to obtain what they want from financial service providers, when they want and how they want it.
Unlike previous generations, who banked where their parents banked, financial services companies have been reacting to a new empowered banking consumer, trying to compete for their attention and position themselves in their paths. With increased access to value-add technologies, simply increasing their retail banking hours isn’t enough to maintain loyalty.
Financial services providers have been playing catch-up, investing in technology and value-add services in an effort to build and maintain relevance with banking consumers who are exerting greater understanding and self-advocacy over where to get and/or grow their money.
Financial services organizations are increasingly enhancing their customer’s journey as any other sector does with any given product or service. The consumer journey is becoming central to the brand experience—as important as the product/service itself in obtaining competitive advantage.
For example, some retail banks are back-tracking from the human-less tech experience by positioning ‘greeters’ in their branches—just like the Walmart greeter—providing not only a degree of security but also welcoming the customer and directing them either to the hot beverage maker or the nearest available customer service agent.
According to the Harvard Business Review, an organization’s ability to deliver value relies on four distinct areas:
- Automation that streamlines the customer’s journey in smooth steps. An example would be providing a banking app, allowing the customer to take a photo of their cheque rather than having to do it in person.
- Proactive personalization uses information about the customer based on past interactions, personalizing and optimizing the next steps.
- Contextual interaction uses knowledge about where the customer is in a journey to deliver them to the next set of interactions, such as the retail banking site showing a customer the status of a recent loan application.
- Journey innovation extends the interaction to new sources of value, such as new services, for both the customer and the brand. This could include tools for greater interest on their savings or loyalty cards that build on something with lasting value, such as sponsoring a financial literacy program.
Activating customer journeys to capture value requires the banking consumer’s journey to be treated like a product that needs to be actively managed, measured, and nurtured.