Customer Experience Improvement is Not Enough
In a recent Financial Brand article (Two Big Trends That Will Change Banking Forever) it’s argued that product innovation, not customer experience, has grown vital for financial institutions looking to increase revenue because this is where credit unions are “most vulnerable to new competitors.” Traditional financial institutions continue to report strong profitability, but this hides the fact that they are losing ground to new market entrants and are capturing a shrinking share of financial service and payment expenditures.
The author doesn’t believe customer experience improvement alone can change the trajectory. Greater product innovation is needed.
Thinking about this broad assessment and recommendation, I thought it useful to choose one customer experience challenge and consider ways in which to employ a solution that leads to product/service innovation that can capture new accounts and new business, and not simply improve the experience of doing business with your institution. When doing this, I also considered a quote in the article from Michael Abbott of Accenture, regarding the challenge of innovating beyond CX improvements: “The whole point of our report is that product innovation is making a comeback and you don’t have to do it all yourself.”
So, I thought I would return to a product/service innovation I’ve been hoping to see spread widely in our market.
Digital Completion Promises an Integrated Customer Journey
Financial institutions and their partners have been working to close the experience gap at the point of sale for years. Everyone recognizes the need to implement fully digital completion of online product delivery and customer service tasks (fully digitizing the journey for each transaction done online). Digital completion is one of the key customer experiences we all must continue to improve upon, for it impacts not just the customer journey, but the ways in which we modernize our infrastructure, and the paths we take to innovate for future generations of customers.
There can be no doubt that your customer feels better served by processes that do not require him or her to go “offline” or exit the digital channel to complete transactions.
No one wants to be asked to “print and mail or fax” a document to complete a task that was started online via computer or mobile device. Fortunately, we are seeing more and more solutions that deliver digital task completion, even ones that overcome traditional silos and allow institutions to serve customers in real-time and through a single delivery channel. For me, it’s the “overcome traditional silos” solutions that hold the most promise.
Vendors providing account opening, online lending, contact center, eSignature and other service solutions have stepped up their abilities to digitally complete transactions, but your institution cannot settle for “differing solutions to digital completion”, based upon the service being accessed, if you want your customers to view your services as “personalized” and to perceive your institution as different, or “differentiated from” competitors.
It’s great to see digital service vendors providing digital completion steps for their specific offerings, but your institution needs to provide one consistent process for its customers. Making customers use different solutions for different products and services creates confusion at multiple levels for both customers and employees. And you need to combine this service with the ability to turn that captured information into an enterprise-wide capability to deliver service that separates you from new entrants.
But Digital Completion Is Not Enough
Today, it’s great to see solutions that bring a single presentation to customers that can be applied across the enterprise. Your institution needs to give them a look. But your institution also needs to look closely at combining digital completion with secure personal storage.
Why? Because digital capture of documents to prove identity or to complete a transaction is a great way to improve customer experience satisfaction BUT it’s not a primary means to product innovation that will capture new business, improve long term prospects with customers, or improve competitiveness relative to new entrants.
For digital capture to be more than “a better experience”, which is a great thing, your institution needs to marry this improved process with products and services that will increase retention, product use and profitability across your environment. One area I believe critical to turning digital capture into a sharp strategic “spear” is “secure digital storage.”
Secure Digital Storage Is A Competitive Differentiator
Yes, the digital world is full of secure digital storage solutions, as well as secure document and file transfer services, for both retail and commercial clients; but those services provided in the cloud are not the best place for the kinds of proprietary information (legal, financial, wealth) one might keep in a safe deposit box or the commercial enterprise equivalent.
Several years ago, I helped to introduce enterprise secure digital storage to the financial services market and heard the reasons why a credit union would not enter the space: 1) many free storage options out there, 2) no one would come to their FI for such a service, 3) too hard to integrate across and down silos, or 4) why not just tag onto and leverage those free services, and more.
But over the years, more and more credit unions have come to see the limitations of free cloud storage services, including the inappropriateness of integrating them to FIs’ “PPI focused services.” And they found their regulators were not enamored by the combination of the “wild west cloud and regulated FIs.”
And over the years I’ve watched as some credit unions have added secure storage, with secure file transfer service, to their portfolio of digital offerings. These institutions have used the technology to eliminate process steps, service time, identity and fraud risk, and even paper receipts. And they’ve increased product use and customer satisfaction by doing so.
It’s Time For Secure Storage
Free digital storage is widespread and easily accessed, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity for credit unions to combine digital capture and storage to gain new product and revenue opportunities isn’t real and timely. In fact, wide use has simply made the technology more acceptable, creating a ready market for the service that FIs can tap into. Giving your customers the tools to perform more secure functions (than photo capture and sharing) can make their online financial lives easier. And it will open doors to new product and service use. You can improve customer experience AND grow revenue.