It's not enough to have digital account services. Customers want more.

How the Digital Experience Shapes Retail Expectations

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Are tech innovators leading a movement or are customers driving the disruption? It's a classic "chicken or the egg" question and one that may never be fully known. Here's what is certain: High tech solutions and automation is no longer a value-add for in-branch banking, it's a mandate. Cash recyclers allow tellers to focus on the customer versus cash. Advanced terminals bridge the gap between human tellers and ATMs. Both build on expectations that have been created by advances in digital banking.

But it's not enough to simply procure systems and automation and hang them out like a shingle to announce that technological services have arrived. The digital experience and in-branch automation have to work exceedingly well – and often in tandem – to keep customers engaged and loyal. This, above all else, gives them a sense of what they can expect from their overall banking experience.

Seizing technological opportunity has killed two birds with one stone for financial institutions: Customers want it and banks benefit from enhanced customer satisfaction and return on investment. Case in point: as noted in an Accenture study, roughly 2 in 3 people who have checking accounts with banks say that their preferred way to bank is online.

Two-thirds of banks worldwide provide digital accounts
Banks are happy to oblige, as globally, about 66 percent of banks offer digital account services, according to American Banker. Additionally, organizations whose accounts were primarily opened by digital means experienced a 16 percent jump in revenue growth from the previous year. That's quite the contrast to institutions offering minimal or no digital services, where revenues fell by 9 percent year over year

Furthermore, digitally acquired customers cost less to do so. For non-digital customers, the median spent by banks per account is approximately $138, American Banker reported. Yet it's almost half of that to acquire digital customers ($77 per account).

Aside from the cost benefits, digital is remarkably efficient. There's isn't as much overhead for banks to factor into their spending, and banking customers have instant access to their accounts through ATMs and online banking.

Digital cubeWhat your customers take away from the digital experience shapes their overall expectations.

An expectation gap
Sounds all well and good, right? Not so fast: Digital transformation isn't all quick transactions and low customer acquisition costs. There currently is a bit of an expectation gap that purely digital portals haven't found a way to bridge: actionable financial advice for bank customers.

Indeed, 80 percent of retail bank customers want guidance as a service, whether it's related to investments, retirement, budgeting or saving for a major purchase, according to a recent J.D. Power survey. When said advice is delivered via digital means, however, customers are often left wanting more. Just 45 percent of respondents in the J.D. Power poll said that the guidance they received online or other electronic means more than met their needs. That compared to 58 percent of satisfied customers whose advice came from tellers or other banking professionals. 

Alice Milligan, a banking customer and digital experience expert, told American Banker that because digital has become so commonplace – particularly in the retail banking segment – branches have to make their services unique, so that they deliver in a way that is unexpected or above average.

"The next generation [of digital] is getting to a place where we're offering a more predictive and dynamic experience to the customer," Milligan explained.

Technology and service to keep customers engaged and satisfied
So how does this inform the retail bank experience? With digital services so highly desired, yet still falling shy of delivering on consumer expectations, the focus should be on integrating the human and automated elements. If anything, the consumer expectation gap can be leveraged as an advantage – an opportunity to deliver high-quality, personalized service aided by technology in a way that exceeds expectations.

Think of it this way: Consumers expect the speed and ease that comes with digital, but have been primed for disappointment when it comes to the quality and depth of service. If your bank or credit union can integrate automation without compromising high-touch service, you have a chance at winning critical loyalty in a flooded market.

At BranchServ, we're setting a higher standard of vendor services. Consumer demands are ever rising and to meet them, you need a vendor that can improve efficiencies to guarantee satisfaction consistency and increase cross-selling opportunities. From physical and electronic security to branch transformation and automation, BranchServ is your one-stop source for the blend of services that can galvanize your business so, like customer demands, it's never stuck in neutral.

Contact us today and take your digital systems to the next level!