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You Need Empathy To Drive Digital Adoption

Digital adoption is usually looked at from a technological standpoint.

What kind of tech can we build to make it more convenient to bank? What can we make easier, quicker, more cost effective?

But the danger of this perspective is that we lose sight of who we’re making the tech for — the customer.

Because the benefits of digital banking tech seem so obviously beneficial, there’s a risk of falling into the “build it and they will come” approach to digital adoption.

It’s not enough to make great tech. You also have to convince customers to use it.

And that requires empathy.

What’s in it for customers to use your fintech?

Sure, fintech has a lot of benefits; making it easier than ever to complete routine banking tasks.  But convenience isn’t enough to get customers to take the first step and try your digital products.

Digital might be convenient. But change isn’t.

Customers have a lot of reservations — ranging from security concerns to just a general apathy towards changing how they do their banking.

That’s probably why 84 percent of Americans are aware of fintech products, but only 33 percent have adopted them.

“It is not that [users 45 and older] consider services provided by FinTech firms inferior, but rather that they prefer incumbent providers and lack a sufficiently compelling reason to switch.” — EY Fintech Adoption Index

Awareness isn’t the issue. We have to develop programs that incentivize online banking registrations and mobile app downloads. We need to encourage habits of use once consumers register.

We have to incentivize action — in both our online and retail channels.

What’s in it for your employees to promote your fintech?

Encouraging digital adoption at branches makes a lot of sense. You can encourage action at the time of need — pulling a customer out of a long line to show a digital alternative.

But for that to work, your frontline staff has to be knowledgeable and invested in promoting digital adoption.

This is a challenge unto itself.

Retail banking staff don’t typically have a vested interest in digital products. They don’t interact with them on a daily basis, and often they aren’t familiar with how they work or why customers should use them.

While most banks run training programs to address this, they often focus solely on product knowledge — and product knowledge on its own isn’t enough.

Your staff needs to be able to spot opportunities to mention digital products to customers. They need to be both confident in their product knowledge, and in their ability to recommend products. And they need to care enough to actually do it.

Simply giving employees a product sheet and a few talking points won’t turn them into a driving force for digital adoption. You have to approach your training programs with empathy.

You have to give them a reason to care.

Great tech isn’t enough to drive adoption

Change isn’t convenient. We need to give both consumers and employees a reason to care; a reason to change how they’ve always done things.

We have to approach digital adoption from a human perspective.

Or we’ll end up with a ton of “great” tech that no one uses.




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John Findlay

John Findlay



Member since

14 Aug 2017



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.

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