Choosing a Digital Strategy for Commercial Banking

December 6, 2019

In a survey by Deloitte, one-third of bank customers “said they would be open to using branches more if banks offered certain digital capabilities that would enhance convenience.” These digital enhancements included virtual remote services with a representative, digital self-service screens, and the ability to schedule a virtual video meeting with a bank representative.

To meet these digital preferences and stay ahead of the rapid changes in tech, banks need a solid digital strategy that meets customer needs and also allows them to meet their own internal challenges. Here are some considerations and tips for choosing a successful digital strategy:

Reinvent your most important customer journeys and rediscover pain points.

Before you plan a new digital strategy, it’s vital that you understand your customers’ pain points—as well as your company’s internal challenges. For your internal strategy, it may be as easy as a quick employee survey. For your customer-facing strategy, you may need to completely revamp your customer journey map. For example, let’s say you are sure your mobile banking app resolves the pain point of accessibility. But upon closer inspection, you might discover that your customers want the app to give them greater access to humans to resolve their issues. Whatever your situation, your pain points can become vital signposts in your digital strategy.

 

But discovering the most important pain points is only part of the battle. Actually creating the strategy requires (1) gaining commitment from top management, (2) making high-tech talent a priority, and (3) working closely with IT. Here’s why these three elements are important:

  1. You’ll need your top management to be committed from day one. They can push along your digital transformation, contribute high-level insight, and allow you to acquire the digital tools your customers and employees need.

  2. Attracting and retaining top tech talent should be a priority because competition for talent is fierce, and continuity is all-important in banking. And, as Boston Consulting Group explains, IT talent is indispensable: “Banks must fight against the traditional mindset that views IT as a low-profile, back-office cost generator. . . . IT staff are now a core part of the business team, generating tangible value together with the front office.”

  3. Your IT department needs to become a true partner. Your IT personnel can help create a digital technology plan that works harmoniously with your customer journey map.

Rediscovering pain points and reinventing customer journeys by working with key players at your bank can make all the difference in your digital strategy. For example, a leading bank in northern Europe reinvented and prioritized its customer journeys and introduced targeted digital tools. These efforts reduced their turnaround time by more than 60 percent and cut operating costs by 30 percent in some product areas.

Balance technology and the human touch.

In the same survey cited at the beginning of this article, Deloitte “found that branches remain the dominant channel for account opening and customer satisfaction with branches is a stronger determinant of overall satisfaction than either the online or the mobile channels.” With the approximately 86,000 bank branches still operating in the United States, it’s clear that the human touch is still important to customers. 

How can you balance technology and the human touch in your digital strategy? We recommend starting small. Don’t introduce technology without making sure it maps to a customer pain point. And stay curious—your customers’ needs and expectations will change, and your technology-human balance should change with it. 

Customer experience expert Adrian Swinscoe recommends asking yourself these questions to help you find a balance:

  • What is your experience strategy and why?

  • Is it high tech and low touch? Is it high touch and low tech? Is it low tech and low touch? Is it high tech and high touch?

  • Where is your experience now and how would you like it to develop over time?

  • How will it change for different types of customers? and

  • Will it change depending on the stage of their journey?

Find a partner with a flexible culture and architecture.

With the rapid and unpredictable changes in business, the economy, and technology, your digital strategy must include strong internal technologies and partners. To keep it simple, focus on finding two things: a platform that meets your goals today and a partner with a flexible culture and architecture that will be able to meet your goals ten years from now. 

With a platform that meets your current goals, you can make sure your internal pain points are being met. Whether your institution needs help with onboarding, change management, or even simply performance improvement, strong internal technologies can be integral to your digital strategy.

With a partner that’s set up for success, you can be prepared to meet future challenges. Today’s known challenges include real-time payments, the Internet of Things movement, and creating new products in-house. By 2030, banks may need to be prepared to face complex CyFi attacks, keeping integrity in data analytics as more third parties become involved and remaining agile in a rapidly-changing digital landscape. A partner with a culture and architecture built for flexibility will be able to help you build a digital strategy that is up to the challenge. 

Banks need a solid digital strategy that can meet challenges now and in the future. By reinventing the customer journey and rediscovering pain points, balancing technology and the human touch, and finding the right platform and partner, your bank can be prepared to meet any challenge it faces.

Contact us today for a tailored assessment of the state of your bank’s digital tools. We would be happy to walk you through how to take your bank’s digital strategy to the next level.

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