A growing segment of community bank customers want it all: both digital and in-person interactions, coupled with highly personalized banking advice based on their individual circumstances. Smarter, savvier, and more informed than ever, today’s consumers are less concerned about brand loyalty and identity — and more than willing to switch to a competitor if you’re not satisfying their needs and expectations.
With competition stiffer than ever — especially from financial technology (FinTech) service providers — what should you be doing to ensure that you meet and exceed customer expectations? First, let’s take a closer look at customer expectations and how they’ve evolved.
Each new generation of bank customer brings a heightened demand for digital banking services. Millennials are leading the charge, with most reporting that they prefer to interact with brands via social media. They also comprise the largest share (47%) of mobile banking users. Members of Gen Z aren’t far behind in their proclivity for a digital experience, although they’re also open to in-person banking. Baby Boomers and older members of Gen X typically place a higher value on human interaction and prefer to visit physical branch locations (though there are certainly exceptions).
In short, customer expectations are trending toward services that are automated and easy to access. At the same time, there’s a growing demand for personalization, with many customers seeking services such as analysis of their spending habits and advice on how to manage their money.
The road ahead
In addition to catering to younger customers, you must satisfy your older clientele. The answer is a hybrid banking model that integrates the digital experience into a traditional bank branch. Imagine, if you will, a physical branch with a self-service station featuring the most cutting-edge smart devices enhanced with virtual assistants. Customers use these tools to access their bank’s knowledge base. At any point during their digital experience, customers can use “off-ramps” which will connect them to a human or assist them in scheduling an appointment for further assistance.
All of this may sound futuristic — but it’s already happening, and it’s helping community banks meet and exceed rising customer expectations.
Questions to consider
To gauge whether you’re meeting or exceeding customer expectations, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions:
- How well do you know your customers and their needs?
- Do your existing products and services match their needs, both now and into the future?
- Do you offer a balanced mix of in-person and digital channels?
- Have you created a simplified and intuitive customer experience in all your delivery channels?
- Are you developing innovative new products and services…or reacting to your competition?
Kevin Fread serves as CIO and CFO of Ironcore, Inc. He possesses more than 40 years of banking and technology experience in a variety of settings, including a community bank, a data services firm, and a global FinTech and payments company. Kevin works closely with Ironcore clients to assist with technology, integration, and strategic planning. You can reach him at email@example.com.