As technology changes every industry, banks and financial institutions that focus on creating positive customer experiences will have the edge – but how banks will do that isn't always clear.
That's according to Jason Conrad, vice president at Ann Arbor-based customer analytics firm ForeSee and head of its retail banking practice. While some banks are betting that automated tellers and mobile banking apps will mean they can close physical branches, others are refocusing on brick and mortar.
"Some banks are opening more branches to reinforce that connection with the community as a strategic, competitive advantage," Conrad says.
Choosing the right strategy can be tough, but ForeSee thinks its new retail banking solution, an extension of its existing customer experience product suite, can help banks better understand their customers.
ForeSee's new retail banking solution is a suite of tools and apps added to its preexisting ForeSee CX Suite. It measures customer data across various channels from desktop web applications to mobile apps to physical branches and call centers and helps banks analyze who their customers are.
"Banks are facing technological upheaval in digital space," says Conrad. "There are literally hundreds of companies making them rethink how they are serving customers. Banks that measure success through the eyes of customers will thrive in the era of technological disruption."
Conrad says research with a dozen retail banks showed they were all nervous about the rise of financial technology, or "fintech," and what it means for traditional banks. They want to know what drives customer satisfaction as well as how to improve retention and customer loyalty.
Banks need to develop a clear understanding of who their customers are, and then decide the "next best action," which Conrad describes as combining what the customer wants from the bank with figuring out how the bank can best focus limited time and resources.
Next comes taking action on the information the bank has gathered so it can optimize its customers' experience across all points of contact, whether an online portal or a physical bank branch.
Finally, Conrad says, banks should take a holistic view of the products and services they offer, understanding not just the technicalities but the human side of things, since banks often interact with customers during huge milestones such as buying a first car or first home or saving for college.
"Banks need to move from simply retaining business and earning loyalty to connecting with customers in an authentic, meaningful way," Conrad says. "And then a funny thing happens: they sell more and make more money, the consumer is happy, and everyone wins."
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of ForeSee.