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Kill the Friction in 2022!

Let me tell you a true tale of modern digital customer experience for bank customers.

A colleague is an avid user of his banking app from a major retail bank. It lets him do everything he needs so he hasn’t been in a branch for a year or more (yes COVID notwithstanding!).

So, it was striking what happened one day. He decided to pay off a loan taken out with the bank. The app let him manage the loan alongside his current and savings accounts. It was a simple option to close the loan within the app. A few taps and he had paid off the loan.

But then he thought, had he? The money had left his account, yet the loan amount was still there and there was no message to acknowledge receipt.  Suddenly anxious he wanted to speak to a human being so he used the option to securely call within the app. Talking to an agent required him to be put on hold and then was told not to worry and that it would be updated within two hours.

However, three hours later the app still showed he’d made a big payment, but the loan amount hadn’t vanished. So, he called again, was passed from one department to another, made to hold and then told it took 24-48 hours and, despite the payment going between different parts of the same bank, that’s how long it took.

The result of this is a customer who has been with the same bank since being a student in 1980s, thinking a lot less well of their service despite the past positive experience with the app.

And it is these little, stray points of friction that lurk within bank’s customer facing operations that banks must sort out in 2022. Customers who have bought into digital banking expect seamless processes especially within and between a bank’s own operations. They also want clear communication so that when they do a big transaction, there’s a minimum of an acknowledgment and a consistency in what they are told about what happens next and when. Learn from the ecommerce giants and how every step of the way from ordering to delivery there’s a message and opportunity to track what’s going on. Why not do the same when a bank is grinding through its own back-office processes to deliver a service?

So, my big New Year’s resolution for banks is kill the friction! Everyone is super-sensitised to the slightest delay and buffering in a process given we have been, and are, remote and online so much. The slightest slip ups in design and functionality are things customers just won’t tolerate.

Banks should forensically sweep all processes for friction, whether it’s a self-service ID process that clunks out when you wear glasses, payments not being tracked well and going smoothly or what happened to my colleague with his loan.

In short, the sales and service experience is the new battleground for retail banking in 2022. That experience needs to be as close to digitally flawless as possible, with the ability to talk to the right skilled person when needed. Polishing out the kinks my colleague encountered will lead to positive rewards around customer satisfaction, retention and cross-selling.


Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 14 January, 2022, 11:39Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Agree about the friction part. I've written about it myself several times during the past 10+ years. During this period, Fintechs / Neobanks relied on superior UX to disrupt traditional banks. 10 years later, they haven't killed a single bank, some of them have gotten disrupted themselves, and banks celebrated one of their most profitable years in history in 2021. So, I disagree about the battleground part.

To me, it seems obvious that banks get something about the banking business that pundits preaching to them don't.

Steve Morgan

Steve Morgan

Banking Industry Market Lead


Member since

04 Sep 2019



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

Frictionless Payments

Frictionless Payments are becoming more and more common. They were firstly introduced by Braintree and adopted by Uber. Since then use cases became more complex, security requirements also got tougher but the user experience (UX) requirements remain unchanged. In fact UX is the main driver of Frictionless Payments. Let's discuss more about Frictionless Payments in this group and try to draw a future scenarios of their development and adoption.

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