Last week my comrade Young (our Chief Strategy Officer) and I attended the American Banker Digital Banking Summit in Los Angeles. It’s a great way for bankers to share challenges, promote wins and celebrate new ideas. Here are a few of the things we noticed:
As Penny Crosman from American Banker (host of this year’s summit) notes, it’s the age of the digital banker. Executives are making a name for themselves in this competitive and increasingly high profile industry by launching innovative products and services that meet the demands of today’s connected customer. They even have an award for it, and Niti Badarinath of U.S. Bank was this year’s honoree, facing down competition from Deutsche Bank and a small but spunky bank in Texas, the “other” City Bank. While we’re on the topic of connected, my personal award for Most Entertaining Presentation By Far goes to Chris Dancy, the “most connected human on Earth.” More on this later.
In this new era, digital bankers are controlling larger budgets than ever, and the balance of these budgets is starting to normalize at roughly half for Online Services, and half for Mobile & Tablet Banking. In a panel with Sun Trust’s Kristen Rankin, USAA’s Patrick Kelly, Citi’s Raghu Bhat and Union Bank’s Ramon Kurkchubasche, these bankers agreed their budgets have grown in recent years, and the spend dedicated to mobile and tablet development has increased to between 40% and 60% of their overall digital budgets. The panel noted that not only are device sizes constantly changing, but customers are also expecting all services to be available to them across all channels. In response, these bankers are normalizing the functionality they provide, resulting in little to no difference across devices and platforms.
We’ve been hearing about a “unified” customer experience for a long time, but it feels like the momentum is finally shifting this direction. Banks are acknowledging that a customer experiences products and services over time, across channels and in moments of great happiness or frustration. All moments working together form the best kind of experience, and make for the most engaged and satisfied customer. In an inspiring kick-off presentation via videoconference from New Zealand, Simon Pomeroy provided an envy-inducing view into Westpac’s vision of what a unified customer experience means, including one-to-one, personalized messages delivered to customers within Online Banking, at least once a month. According to Simon, this has enabled a long-term conversation with customers that enhances relationships and improves engagement with new products and services.
Westpac’s stance is that true personalization can only be achieved through digitally led, people-linked conversations.
Although they aspire to be the “world’s best digital bank” (and seem to be well on their way) they also have an actual person available within one click of every customer interaction.
For Wells Fargo, Brett Pitts outlined their theory of customer engagement based on what they call “customer intensity,” measured by the frequency, type and channel of interactions a customer has over time. Their goal is to make the combination of each of these interactions special, leading to higher customer engagement, and ultimately a better business outcome. Both banks are on the right path, setting the bar for other financial institutions.
One of many quotable quotes from the aforementioned Chris Dancy shines a unique perspective on the recurring theme of “customers.” Who is this elusive customer anyway? According to Chris, bankers talk about them like they’re some sort of tribe they study from a helicopter with feigned interest and complete indifference. They look very smart/helpless/frustrating/demanding from afar, but what do they really want? Who are they really? Chris’ point? Guess what: they’re us.
We are your customers, and we need a bank.
According to Brett Pitts, Wells Fargo had 5.8 billion interactions with these so-called “customers” in 2013. It’s time to start figuring out what they need, where they are, what they care about, and what they want from you.
According to Chris, banks can better understand customers if they consider three critical impacts that a digital, or connected, world have had on us:
The banks that are winning right now are the ones that offer simple solutions to the jobs customers need to do every day. In Martie Woods’ presentation on the Digital Customer, true innovation comes from giving a customer the tools (or products or services) they need to get a job done. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it shouldn’t be, actually. City Bank Texas proves this theory, with smart, small, incremental innovations that solve a customer problem and make the best use of technology and context.
The banks that are winning right now are the ones that offer simple solutions to the jobs customers need to do every day.
Speaking of incremental innovations, a shout out to City National Bank for an awesome use of mobile-to-ATM technology for instant cash access with a tap and a wave. Way to go, guys. You’re both in the running for my nomination for next year’s Digital Bank award.