The Customer Effect

The state of the modern banking experience

  • Industry leaders from a range of perspectives -- from bank, startup and venture capitalist vantage points -- offered their visions for the future evolution of financial services at the inaugural Tearsheet Money Conference.
  • The future of financial services will center around issues of customer choice, the extent of human involvement in service delivery and use of data.
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The state of the modern banking experience

Finance industry leaders from a range of perspectives —  bank, startup and venture capitalist — got together in New York Monday for the inaugural Tearsheet Money Conference Monday — an opportunity to reflect on the state of the digital wallet and how finance companies are evolving to meet changing expectations of the customer.

And while the banking and finance sector may be rife with talk automation, chatbots, and non-humans taking charge of customer interactions, speakers reflected on how to harness these types of technology to make interactions as easy as possible — the ability for the customer to communicate with a finance company anywhere, anytime and through as many means as possible, was top of mind.

Here are five things we learned at Tearsheet Money:

Give the customer a choice; don’t ask them to change
Contrary to the contention that technology should drive changes in consumer behavior, it’s the consumers that will define how they will engage with technology. “There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer,” said Matt Sueoka, vice president and head of mobile payments and partner strategy at American Express. “The way we create a seamless experience is by providing the choice and speaking to customers the way they want — some people think opening an app is a great experience, but other times pulling out the phone is inconvenient versus speaking to an Amazon Alexa Echo device.”

An omnichannel view of financial services, being able to begin an interaction from one platform and easily move another, should be an important part of a customer’s flexibility to interact with their financial institution the way they choose. This is core of what Zor Gorelov, CEO and co-founder of Kasisto, calls “lifestyle banking.”

Building trust through authenticity is key to building a brand
“You can’t say ‘please trust me’ to the customer,”said Beth Johnson, chief marketing officer and head of consumer strategy at Citizens Bank. Johnson said building that trust is based on a frictionless experience, open communication and gaining insights from customer data. Listening to the customer is also important.

Social media engagement is an important part of building a trusted brand voice.

“You need to understand how your consumers are interacting with content — you also need agile, as social media and customer attitudes are changing,” said Christine Pierpoint, senior vice president of financial services at IMRE, the agency T. Rowe Price works with on its social media strategy. The challenge with social media outreach, said Meara Ranadive, T. Rowe Price’s head of social media, is to create the right kind of content and not appear too intrusive so as to put off the consumer.

Technology will not supplant the frontline role of humans in customer interactions
Think the bank branch is on its way to a museum? Not so fast. There’s an emerging consensus that the bank branch is here to stay, but what form it will take will depend how best to serve the customer of the future, whether through automated tools or human advice.

“People like to sit down with someone and talk to them face to face,” said Terrence Richardson, head of corporate and investment banking at HSBC. “The banks struggle with how to do that in a cost-effective manner.”

Beyond data that suggests millennials want to go talk to live humans, Richardson explained that the branch is also an important part of brand-building and are important for customer acquisition.

Banks are loosening up their cultures to more easily innovate and change
US Bank is setting up shop in Silicon Valley to learn from startup culture, to more easily cross-fertilize ideas and explore different recruitment channels.

“Instead of trying to bring them to us, let’s go to them and learn from the place they are working in,” said Stephanie Hammes-Betti, senior vice president of innovation design at US Bank. Hammes-Betti also noted that the bank is investing in the next generation of employees — one example is US Bank’s investment in Technovation, a development program for girls who code.

Bank and startup partnerships are a win-win for both.

“Achieving scale [for startups] requires partnerships, and we can learn a great deal from our fintech partners,” said Adam Green, managing director of wealth management at JPMorgan Chase.

Use of data is an ongoing issue
In the last year, a number banks have made their APIs free to enable more innovation (for example, Capital One, Citi and BBVA). There is a debate around who should own customer data, which can be helped if banks designed a standardized digital identity. Customers want to be able to share their data safely and security, and APIs are going to move in a direction where customers are going to be able to do that.

 

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