Newcomers in the financial services industry are grabbing a lot of attention these days as they push their way into what had been a fairly staid sector up until just a few years ago.
Digital disruption by “neo-banks” and giant companies like Amazon and Apple aims to give banks and credit unions a run for their account holders’ money. These emerging competitors are making inroads in markets around the world by offering consumers a new way to interact with their financial accounts as they roll out innovations with remarkable speed.
In its report, “Time to Start Again: The State of the Financial Services Industry 2019,” the management consulting firm Oliver Wyman describes the agility with which these firms are developing new delivery channels and continually improving their offerings using the metaphor of “flywheel momentum.”
“They are collecting data in ways that enable increasingly value-added services for customers. The data gathered from initial offerings is used to understand the customer better and create new solutions, which brings in more data,” the report notes. “Features are launched and tested with customers rapidly. Eventually, it is difficult for competitors to even catch up.”
In its global analysis comparing the performance of a group of existing banks to a sample of digital challengers, Oliver Wyman found that fintechs taking advantage of this momentum spent less to acquire customers ($30 compared to $150), made accounts accessible more quickly (same day vs. three days), launched new features faster (two weeks vs. three to six months), served customers more efficiently, and received higher ratings from their own employees (68 percent vs. 25 percent rating their employer as a five-star company).
That comparison should serve as a wakeup call to established financial institutions. But there is a catch: The flywheel advantage — the ability to “do more, faster,” to use the parlance of this analysis — isn’t the exclusive territory of the fintechs.
Personal service powered by data
Banks and credit unions can adapt the cadence of improving service delivery incrementally by gathering, analyzing, and acting on accountholder data, and they can do so within the existing infrastructure of their branch networks. Branch delivery done well represents a strong advantage in expanding relationships with the existing customer/member base and winning new business among consumers who appreciate the opportunity to sit down with experienced financial professionals to consult on money matters.
To power your own flywheel momentum across the branch network, far from the increasingly crowded field of online financial services providers, consider the advantages that can be gained by deploying customer connection technology tools such as appointment apps, lobby tracker and staff scheduling software:
Put customers in charge. The biggest knocks against branch service are (1) being forced to wait and (2) encountering employees who don’t know who customers are or what they need. Inviting account holders to schedule branch appointments with financial professionals online or via mobile app solves both of those problems. Customers get to choose when and where to have these important conversations about their personal finances. And when they arrive, they are greeted by name by a trusted financial professional who is prepared to provide the requested assistance.
Make every appointment count. Kronos’ data analytics of financial institutions using its Appointment Concierge indicates that 84 percent of interactions where accountholders booked appointments resulted in interaction related to new sales opportunities, compared to 32 percent of interactions with walk-in traffic.
Reduce wait times and abandon rates. Even for account holders who arrive without appointments, branch management technology can help keep lobby traffic moving more efficiently and keep customers informed about their place in the queue and anticipated time to service. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. Customers who are informed about estimated wait time can decide whether to schedule an appointment and return later.
Transform the branch experience and business model. Branch management software and sales and service systems can help ensure that the right staff are on hand at the right times to provide the right services in demand at each location.
These tools can help managers create optimal schedules by tracking evolving lobby traffic patterns, which minimizes excess staff and boosts productivity by identifying idle time and redirecting staff to more meaningful tasks. Applying performance data also improves employee engagement by identifying which staff need additional training and targeted coaching and which top performers should be recognized and rewarded with promotions and additional responsibility.
A simple definition of innovation is the effective exploitation of new ideas. Your organization can take advantage of emerging technology to achieve noteworthy sales and service improvements, increase frontline efficiency and productivity—and gain an edge over one-note fintech competitors.