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Digital Banking: Where it falls short

According to Wikipedia, modern Banking has been around for a long time (since the days of Renaissance Italy in 14th century) and money even longer (bartering of cattle as early as 9000 BC, laws around money enacted by Babylonians around 1760 BC). I wonder what users expected in those days or how consumer experience was perceived. Obviously for an industry this old, satisfying user demands has probably never been more frustrating than the current digital era.

Although digital banking is pushing the envelope in bringing the convenience of accessing your money and assets from the tips of your fingers, it seems to consistently fall short in a rather important area - handoffs and seamless customer experience between digital and branch channels. I am going to demonstrate this with 2 specific examples.

Given the high costs associated with the branch channel, some big banks are positioning branches for servicing high networth customers with higher depository balances. Notable example is the transformation of Chase Bank branches in USA to serve private banking clients. However, these clients with high deposit balances are savvy digital users as well.

Although it doesn't feel like I belong to the high networth category :-(, I am going to use one of my recent experiences. Having been on a spending spree, my checking account balance fell below the threshold amount. Promptly, I got a low balance notification from my bank. But what could I do with the notification? Not much. Digital banking stopped there. This is where banks can learn from email. Left swiping emails on smartphones gives options for actions such as delete, archive and more. I wish I could have done the same with that low balance notification. May be I could modify the threshold; transfer money; or schedule a callback from my banker to discuss opening a savings or investment account. Interactive notifications with meaningful or configurable options for actions are a critical part of the seamless handover between digital and brick and mortar.

Another highend banking request where the digital/ branch channel handoff falls short - for any investment related query, you would expect a high networth customer to call the branch. However, branch processes for discussing investment advice seem to be in the paper age. What these busy users desire is a series of handoffs between digital and branch channels as shown below (individual preferences will vary but you get the idea):

  • Initiate desire to connect with banker regarding investment advice and schedule appointment - digital
  • Fill out profile questionnaires and upload documentation as requested by banker - digital
  • Meet face to face with investment advisor - branch
  • Decision to open investment acconut and actions associated with opening an account - digital
  • Investment decisions/ trades - combination of branch and digital depending on individual user needs
  • Track performance - digital; Reviews - branch; Reallocation - digital 

Recommendations for banks with digital as well as brick and mortar presence:

  • Segment your customers depending on their lifestyles as well as metrics such as current and lifetime value/ profitability
  • Identify key interactions and tasks that are bank-initiated and customer-initiated
  • Depending on the lifestyle and profitability metrics discussed earlier, design totally digital or modified experiences around these interactions. 

Examples of such customer segment/ experience combinations might be:

  • Totally digital - busy lifestyle customers with low profitability
  • Combination of branch and digital or combination of customer location and digital - busy lifestyle customers with high profitability
  • With digital pervading all walks of life and users of all ages, customer segments who prefer branch channel exclusively are likely to be limited and other mechanisms (e.g. agents) could be devised to address their needs

Banks that are able to leverage the strengths of digital and branch banking as illustrated here will be able to flex their muscles against the upstarts much better.

Happy customers, happy banks. Are there other examples where digital banking falls short? What do you think? Feel free to poke holes on this blog.

Happy digital banking customer?

Comments: (1)

Stanley Epstein
Stanley Epstein - Citadel Advantage Ltd - Modiin 31 July, 2015, 13:10Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

There is always going to be the possibility of a disconnect at the technology/ human interface. If the human banker is savvy enough on how the technology works and his/her role in the process, it could work quiet well. However human bankers are still human and automated processes can’t accommodate this fact (not yet at least), so the irritation factor will remain a while longer.