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SERVICE, SPEND, SELL The Digital Banking Opportunity

I recently got to speak with an enlightening analyst from Gartner - Rajesh Kandaswamy – who specializes in the Financial Services vertical. He mentioned an insight from an FSI CEO which I’m going to paraphrase (his comments prefixed with [CEO]) and I’ve added my own commentary (prefixed with [DC]):

[CEO] “The opportunity for ‘digital’ and particularly ‘mobile’ in banking revolves around Service, Spend & Sell”:

  • Service: [CEO] Most banks are doing a good job of allowing customers to self-serve through the online and mobile channels. Mobile apps are incredibly popular and innovation in this area continues. 
    [DC] Although, the (understandable) focus of mobile apps is on high volume transactions. Check account balances, notifications if your balance goes below a threshold, paying bills, transferring between accounts. And with the growth in location based services – capabilities like proactive auto-loan offers if you’re in a car dealership.

  • Spend: [CEO] Mobile Payments is an evolving area and the banks (and non-banks like Google, Apple and Amazon) are still evolving their ideas and options for payments.
    [DC] Everyone is (understandably) investing heavily in payment and mobile payment technologies. It may be a Betamax vs VHS, Blu-Ray vs HD DVD scenario where it will take some time to find a winner(s). Jack Dorsey predicted the Square Wallet would change the way people buy – and then it was removed from the Apple and Google app stores (

  • Sell: [CEO] This is an area we can all do a lot better in – acquiring customers on mobile devices is important and needs work.
    [DC] Yes indeed. For many bank customers, applying for a new product like a loan with your current bank still begins with a blank form. And for customers that are “new-to-bank”, the experience is the same. And for the VAST majority of banks, the experience on a mobile device is down-right ugly – namely an on-boarding form that was laid out for a desktop browser…for the product owners in these banks the idea of responsive forms is a distant dream! Not to mention integration to use the camera for photos. Or the fact that the customer can’t complete the transaction digitally – so identity verification and signature capture are still manual processes that happen in the branch. PLEASE – we can do sooooo much better than this. This is a huge opportunity for improvement.


If you look at the modern customer experience for purchasing a product or service, it breaks down like this and the banks need to align themselves to this sales process:

  1. LIFE EVENT – Something happens to put me in the market. It could be watching a TV ad, talking to a friend, getting married, divorced, graduating, having a baby…something happens to make me go shopping for a new product/service.
  2. RESEARCH – I then conduct my own research online (search, product comparison sites, social), through friends etc. I don’t want to be sold to…I want to make informed purchasing decisions. And I will inform myself, thank you very much.
  3. APPLY/ORDER– Once I’ve found the product or service I feel best meets my needs, I’ll apply. And this is where it gets complicated. Does your bank support this…
    • I’ll apply through any channel (digital / non-digital);
    • I’ll use any device I might have in my hand at the time – Smartphone, Tablet, Laptop;
    • I’ll move between devices…so I might start on a Smartphone and then continue on a Laptop;
    • I’ll ask for assistance online and expect to be able to pause my application, walk in to a branch and ask for help…


  4. SERVICE – This is where the bank gets to kick in to service mode and WOW! the customer with a great banking experience online, in branch and over the phone. But this is wishful thinking if the APPLY experience isn’t a good one.

Doing a good job of APPLY is hard if you are relying on the IT department to build it for you OR you rely on your core banking / loan management systems vendor to deliver it for you. Both of these options tend to build from the database up. So the restrictions of your core systems are imposed upon the customer experience. The better approach is to design from the customer experience down and then meet in the middle with the core system(s).

Compare your purchase experience to – a company with a relentless focus on the customer experience:

  • I can browse their massive catalogue on my Smartphone. Put things in my Cart or Wishlist for later. If I forget…they drop me reminder emails, tell me if the price on something I was looking at has gone down, etc.
  • I can continue my shopping experience on my iPad or Laptop but get an experience that is tailored for that device. What I did on my Smartphone is remembered – I don’t have to start again.
  • If I’m using a Fire Tablet or Smartphone I can use the Mayday button to get immediate live help.
  • If I email them a question – I get a great response and quickly.


So many banks have invested heavily in making their most important sales transactions (credit cards, personal loans, checking accounts…) available online…then they were frantically getting to market with mobile apps for mobile banking…now they need to make those online account opening capabilities responsive. But the frameworks they’ve been using for browser development aren’t mobile responsive. ARGHHHHHHH!!!! I can hear their collective cries of frustration from my desk.


The good news is that there are emerging technologies in the area of Systems of Engagement that may aleviate some of the pain associated with banks trying to move at the pace of their customers' devices and digital engagement experiences. Another area worth researching is the work of Forrester regarding Low Code Platforms. I'll aim to write more about these emerging technologies in the coming weeks. 

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