CSP Happenings





Topic: Customer Service Experience

Breaking Down Silos in Customer-Centricity

April 16, 2019

How much do you know about your internal analytics team? If you’re an executive, you may have valuable insight, but what about the managers and universal bankers at your various branches? How much does your app development team understand the day-to-day experience of a teller? While these groups have somewhat disconnected responsibilities, they all work toward the same goal of better serving customers and creating meaningful partnerships. As such, if you can get these diverse groups to interact with each other more, you can reveal learnings and opportunities otherwise unseen in your financial institution.

Understanding the Influence Separates Services Have on Each Other

Organizations have to interact with each other to figure out how their separate tasks and responsibilities come together to help the customer. Take the example of the dynamic between an app glitch and the customer service department. While customer service may be trained to handle a wide variety of tasks, handling work-arounds for tech issue such as mobile glitches could be out of their scope. Therefore, when a confused customer reaches out to customer service regarding a glitch, they may additionally report a poor customer service experience if they aren’t able to get their questions resolved.

Examples such as this exist across a variety of departments and teams within a financial institution. Marketing materials affect customer expectations when they interact with branch representatives. Data analytics make product recommendations to customers, such as new accounts or loans, which they may apply to online. Customers are dynamic, and tend to think about their experiences more holistically than organizations. Seeing things through their lenses helps financial institutions provide higher value and better service.

Internal Access to Comprehensive Customer Information

Part of breaking down department silos requires educating employees about other departments. However, while learning about other people’s work is important and valuable, understanding the way their work connects to the customer is vital. Universal bankers should be given access to customer information that is succinct and useful to their communication. This can combine information impacted by various departments, such as the customer’s omni-channel activity (digital), any loans they have and notes from past customer interactions (customer service). When universal bankers apply this correctly, they can enhance the customer experience through better service.

This type of customer data aggregation also helps the organization as a whole better understand the customer journey. In a dashboard a universal banker accesses, they should (hopefully) be able to understand the customer journey up until that point, and document an touchpoints that haven’t been accounted for. In this scenario, the old school approach of asking a customer how they learned about a service or what information gathering they did can provide valuable insight and shape the way the organization as a whole looks at the customer journey.

Creating Selling Opportunities

Encouraging different groups within your organization to interact can lead to the revelation of selling opportunities. Consider an example of a digital advertising team interacting with universal bankers. The digital team may focus on various analytics to predict customer needs based on their financial situations. However, by interacting with universal bankers, they can gain more context about the statistics along with useful framing of solutions for customers.

The reality of financial services is that it serves a diverse set of needs. One on hand, customers themselves are diverse individuals with various needs, preferences and opinions. More importantly, the individual customer has a diversity of family dynamics, interests, and multifaceted financial factors that play into their overall well-being. This puts a huge responsibility on financial institutions: to try to understand and serve the whole person, rather than focusing on an individual need. By getting analytics, universal bankers, advertisers, loan experts and compliance professions to interact, financial institutions can begin to put this puzzle together and customize the way they sell to, and interact with, their customer base.

April Trends: Innovations in Financial Services

April 10, 2019

With 2019 in full swing, this year is already shaping up to be hugely transitional in the world of financial services. Change can be anxiety inducing, especially in an industry that has traditionally functioned under a premise of security and heavily regulation. With that said, Changes in open banking and FinTech open up a new world of opportunity to excel in customer service and the overall customer experience. Here are a few trends to consider for your financial institution this year:

Data Visualization for Internal Use

More customer data is available than ever before. On one hand, this data is being made available to the customer in the form of budgeting dashboards. Showing customers information like mortgage amortizations, projected retirement cashflows and recommendations for how they can tweak their budgets are all coming in full force. Similarly, financial institutions are beginning to become more savvy at customer-specific ad recommendations and making major decisions based off customer segments.

However, another area of opportunity lies in quick, real-time education of financial institutions’ staff based on individual customers. Having an abundance of customer information available is only useful if it can be processed and applied in real-time to help aid customer interaction. Financial institutions should focus on making pertinent information about customers easy to identify for their universal bankers. Converging disparate financial pieces (loans, mortgages, monthly expenditures, changes in spending habits) in succinct ways enables universal bankers to inquire, document, and recommend solutions based on an individual’s complex financial picture.

Enhanced Support Amid Open Banking and APIs

The future of FinTech and banking is both clear and uncertain in terms of its trajectory. There is certainty in the idea of tech disruption in financial services, open banking and the sharing of customer information to third parties to add value and create opportunity. However, the specific way these FinTech organizations will impact financial services, and which services/products will offer the most value, remains uncertain. The good news is that financial institutions don’t need to identify the major impact players in this space yet, they simply need to open themselves to these opportunities. Making APIs available to third parties opens the door for “passive” innovation by letting third party tech companies apply your financial institution’s data with their own platforms. Simply put, the time to develop and provide an API to third parties is now in order to be on the front end of coming financial services innovations.

Enhanced Visual Interactions in Banks

Bank and credit union branches feel somewhat enigmatic at the moment. On one hand, consumers are conducting an increasing amount of the bank activity online and through mobile, taking some attention off of bank branches. On the other hand, this puts extra pressure on branch visits to leave a lasting impression and create a customer loyalty bond that is more difficult to do online or with mobile.

The increased use of kiosks give customers an opportunity to self service in ways that are proven to improve customer satisfaction when applied correctly. Additionally, visual screen displays allow for a flexible medium to tap into local events, culture and create a bond that extends beyond a transaction and attempts to form a deeper bond with customers. These factors, combined with a staff of universal bankers armed with customer information has the potential to create an experience that delights customers and creates a unique moment.

Balancing Security With Innovation

As the open API format of financial services continues to evolve, financial institutions will need to find ways to safely utilize the customer data they have historically been entrusted to protect. The PSD2, the second Payment Services Directive being established in the European Union, will likely become an international standard for financial institutions and payment services to operate under. This standard takes some of the responsibility for protecting customer data away from banks and into the hands of customers, with enhanced security checks. In short, this means that banks and credit unions will need to be aware of these changes in security measures, educate their customers, and most importantly, be ready to evolve with the these changes in the market. Traditional financial institutions will see an influx of competition from third party providers, and it is up to these financial institutions to utilize FinTech partnerships and their own offerings to maintain the interest and attention of their existing customer base.

Financial Institutions: Staying the Course Amid Big Tech Disruption

April 5, 2019

Apple’s recent release of the Apple Card follows a familiar trend: tech and major tech organizations playing a disruptive role in financial services. For bank and credit union executives, these types of changes can feel like an existential crisis. However, while things are changing faster than ever before, financial services decision makers need to see this transition as an opportunity to position themselves for the future.

Innovation Officers

The reality of an ever-changing landscape is that someone will have to take the lead on change and guide their respective financial institutions from discovery to full implementation of major organizational changes. Individuals like CEOs and COOs likely already have their hands full with the day to day responsibilities of the organization, and may not have the capacity to navigate such changes.

Hiring a Chief Innovation Officer, an Innovation Director, or someone of this nature can help organizations stay ahead of trends and prioritize their initiatives based on pertinence and ROI. Chief responsibilities of this person can include:

– Exploration Attending trade events, maintaining a pulse on banking news and understanding the competitive landscape

  • Financial and Resource vetting Understanding which initiatives may be feasible for an organization based on workforce and financial resources
  • Vendor Solicitation Seeking out assistance from potential partners, consultants and any third party resources to bring new innovation to life
  • Transitionary planning and staff direction Overseeing the implementation of new initiatives and shaping the overall plan for change
Change Management and Agile Structures

With anticipated change, financial institutions should have a foolproof change management structure in place. Understanding how new initiatives will be communicated, who will be responsible for follow through and how behaviors can be reinforced are key to success. Before any meaningful change can truly happen, addressing this general structure will help to guide implementation when rubber hits the road and a prospective innovation becomes a plan ready to be acted upon. Executives teams can start early by establishing a hierarchy for implementation within their institution and a general framework for notifying, teaching, improving and reinforcing new behaviors.

Staying Calm Amid Disruption

In an environment of unprecedented change, executives may feel tempted to act in reactionary ways. Taking on a multitude of initiatives, seeking out an edge in innovation and still trying to maintain high quality in day to day operations may seem like the only solution to keep pace. However, overextending your team will lead to fatigue, lack of focus and an end product of half-baked services and offerings.

Instead, financial institutions should focus on iterated, calculated change based on areas of their business that have the most potential to improve the customer experience. Creating a clear mapping of various customer journeys and nailing the omni-channel experience should be first priorities. As disruptive technologies continue to evolve, financial institutions will need to stay aware of the industry’s direction, but don’t necessarily need to be the players pioneering the way, as long as they’re able to act once opportunities with a clear ROI are established.

Consumers (Sometimes) Like Self-Service

March 19, 2019

Self-service opportunities in banking can streamline a customer touchpoint, increase utility of your brand and allow your organization to provide more value by focusing on complex tasks customers truly wouldn’t be able to handle themselves. The key is knowing when and where to utilize self-service, and any pitfalls that can change this approach into a burden.

Pros

Simple tasks with a minimal amount of time between beginning and end are ideal for self-service. In other words, having to rely on a bank representative should feel like an inconvenience, because the service is simple enough that it doesn’t necessitate assistance.

Obvious examples include things like internal back transfers, bill pay, and other tasks which have become self service with the advent of mobile technology, such as depositing checks via an app. 

Cons

The largest shortcoming with self-service is quite obvious — that it puts impetus on the customer to accurately and efficiently complete a task. Organizations need to be careful about when they choose to create self service opportunities, and why they’re created. Self-service should always be in the interest of the customer, genuinely creating something that is easier for them to complete themselves than the effort that would be required to get on the phone, online or in a branch with a representative.

Some organizations utilize self-service as a cost cutting mechanism, replacing an activity that would be better suited for a financial institution representative with the customer’s own leg work. This runs the risk of hurting the customer experience, making brand interactions feel arduous, and creating more subtle losses in the long run in terms of lost revenue and opportunity due to poorer customer experience.

Complexity of Task Dictates Self Service

Simply put, customer experience directors need to take a critical look at processes to understand whether they can be utilized in a self-service environment, and whether that experience adds value to their customers.

  • Can it be completed in a single sitting? Customers should be able to complete a task and move on, requiring only a notification that the task was validated later.
  • It is achievable for customers? Can customers easily complete this task without much education, a learning curve or potential confusion?
  • Is it verifiable? Once the task is completed by the customer, can a hands-free process take place to verify the actions they took, without creating difficulty for them?
Branch Interactions Matter

Among discussion about self service, it’s important to note the value of branch experience. The world of financial services will never be completely self-service because the importance of regulation and inherent complexity of personal/business finance will always require navigation by experts. Refocusing your organization and staff on those complex tasks, reviewing the self-service process and improving both adds value to your customers and gives them the services they want in a deliverable package that is most convenient to them.

Pilots and Organizational Change



Financial institutions are consistently seeking to improve their services, usually looking at their customer interactions on a micro-level. The process of creating long term, organizational change around these interactions can be intimidating, especially when change in customer experience runs the risk of disappointing. However, by breaking down the customer journey, identifying key points, testing change and scaling, organizations can take on change in a process-oriented, low risk manner.

Identifying Various Customer Journeys

In order to identify focal points for innovation and improved customer experience, organizations must break out the various customer journeys. For financial institutions, this can vary widely. One individual might begin their journey as a non-customer, receive email outreach about interest rates on a CD, and go into a branch to open a CD along with a checking account. A different journey might be an existing customer who wants to utilize your same financial institution for a home mortgage, and applies for a mortgage online, then following up at a branch in-person.

Each customer journey is different and will have unique implications. By mapping these various processes out, your organization can better understand the different steps your customers go through while interacting with your services.

Zoning in on Touchpoints

Once customer journeys have been identified, your organization can start looking for key moments in that journey. These key moments can be identified a number of ways — through key driver analyses which determine the importance of a touchpoint, by identifying particularly low customer touchpoints, or by using judgment when hard data isn’t available. Identifying key moments of interaction with your customer can help your organization punch above its weight class by absolutely nailing the specific interactions where customers determine the value your offer as a company.

Creating Touchpoint Teams

Different individuals in your organization will have expertise and interests determined by their professional focus. For example, your digital team will be interested in the fluency of internal, online transfers self-serviced through a mobile app, while a branch manager will be invested in the process of submitting a loan application in-person. Leveraging these professional focal points, allow your staff to self-identify the pre-determined touchpoints they may want to focus on.

Notably, for mid-sized financial institutions, this process can happen at a very small scale. A team of three at an individual branch may be able to brainstorm ideas for improvement of in-person touchpoints. Similarly, your mobile app developers may be able to run beta tests with select numbers of customers before rolling out any prospective changes to your entire customer base. Starting small allows for tweaking and refining with minimal risk in a real-world environment.

Measurement and Comparison

Once your small teams have developed alternative concepts to create an improved touchpoint, trying to gauge the satisfaction surrounding that touchpoint is vital. If you have consumer feedback, such as a rating of their experience at that touchpoint, soliciting similar feedback can be valuable. Online, actively soliciting consumers to rate their experience can help you gauge the level your touchpoint has truly improved. Having this hard data surrounding prospective changes can give your organization the confidence it needs to

Scaling

Once a customer touchpoint has been improved and validated through comparative testing, your organization is ready to scale and reap the benefits of your hard work. Voila! You’ve just improved an aspect of the customer experience, and set an example for future changes within your organization to deliver unique and meaningful interactions and exceed customer expectations.

The New Digital Financial Institution



The customer experience for financial institutions, and customers’ perceptions of banks and credit unions, are changing. In a constantly evolving industry (and one that is evolving quicker than it ever has in the past), it’s important to take a step back and understand the current state of financial services.

At a high level, customers want more and less interaction with their financial institution simultaneously. 2019 will see increased interaction and monitoring of their financial life, but will experience more of this activity through digital, rather than in-depth and in-person interactions. They will have higher expectations of their financial institution, and think of their FI as a strategic partner in their overall financial health. Going into the future, consumers will expect their data to be better utilized, but to be even better protected as it’s being accessed.

More Frequent Touchpoints

Consumers will conduct more transactions and interact with their financial institutions than ever before, looking for features and capabilities that help them be nimble with their finances. Higher numbers and increasingly specified savings accounts, more flexiblity with retirement accounts and regular monitoring of their financial health all play into this dynamic.

Branding Through Digital

Customers will have more interactions through digital than ever before. Increasing amounts of self-service, confident movement past buggy apps and increasing digital parity among big banks and smaller financial institutions all make the digital playing field more accessible than ever before. As such, organizations need to make sure their personality, brand values and differentiators are communicated through this channel, especially mobile.

However, this doesn’t affect the relevance of branches and bank associates. It simply puts more pressure on branch experiences to excel in their delivery. Utilizing the capabilities of a universal banker, bank associates must be familiar with the digital landscape their customers regularly function within as well, able to explain and troubleshoot digital issues in person.

Growing Through New Value

One of the ways customers are increasingly expecting more from their financial institutions is through consulting and advice. For the traditional retail banking customer, they’re looking toward their financial institutions to help them manage and optimize their finances, rather than simply oversee them. More readily available information about personal finance and a consumer base that more readily shares data and information has given rise to this increase in expectation, and financial institutions can make themselves invaluable partners along the way.

The Future is Sophisticated Security

Perhaps most notably, the direction banking is moving toward in the future includes the unique challenge and opportunity of guaranteeing security while utilizing/sharing more consumer data than ever before. Open banking, the pioneering of blockchain for financial institutions and the capabilities of FinTech all create audacious and meaningful opportunities. While FinTech partnerships with traditional financial institutions are already moving ahead full steam, open banking and blockchain are still being defined. This creates an opportunity for executives and directors to get on board with these innovations before they enter the mainstream in order to position their organizations for long-term success and timely evolution.

Moving Your Small/Mid-Sized Community Financial Institution to Digital

February 18, 2019

Small and mid-sized community financial institutions have always performed well when it comes to in-branch customer satisfaction. However, the according to The Financial Brand, community financial institution customers are most often dissatisfied with their FI’s digital capabilities and experience when compared to large national banks. By leveraging your internal staff, seeking out the right talent and taking ownership over your digital transformation, your community financial institution can be competitive with the big banks in digital and take your organization to the next level.

Involvement at All Levels

Using your human resources, get your entire organization involved. Community banks and credit unions do exceptionally well with branch satisfaction. Highlight your staff’s hard work, and explain how that same high level of customer satisfaction has to translate to digital. Forming digital project teams to oversee various processes and digital components, whether it login security, mobile deposits, or online chatbots, and have them investigate and give feedback on those different processes. By allowing various teams to focus on specific online activities, your organization can take your digital transformation piece by piece and make sure you’re performing well on key touchpoints.

Importantly, make sure your staff feels a sense of ownership. Individuals who have focused on branch activity might feel like they are being “replaced” by digital. To overcome this, give their work in digital a specific correlation to their job performance overall, make them feel like their work is important in the digital space, and give praise often when a digital touchpoint is performing well.

Focus on Fundamentals

In the year 2019, it’s easy to get caught up with the idea of innovation. The industry regularly talks about FinTech organizations coming up with creative value adds and useful new ways to make use of customer data. These ideas are valuable, and innovation should be a part of any strategy. However, making sure the most common and frequent digital activities are rock solid is more important.

Customers’ core online and mobile functions should be foolproof. Consider transfers, mobile deposits, online dashboards, bill pay and omni-channel functionality as the most important pieces of the puzzle. By considering these core factors first, your community financial institution can avoid major headaches that result in digital dissatisfaction. As an organization that already delivers above-and-beyond service during in-branch experiences, creating a functional and smooth digital experience will give you high customer satisfaction.

Hire the Right People

When considering your digital transformation, having the right internal team to help you is essential. Particularly, having a single digital lead who is experienced in the space is an important element for an executive team lacking an already-internal digital expert. One highly experienced individual with a plan of action and the ability to guide your organization can make all the difference.

Beyond a highly trained leader, new hires for more traditional roles may benefit from digital experience. Hiring should consider digital talents, even if they lie outside the finance industry, and those with financial experience should have an expressed interest in digital banking.

While hiring new individuals will be an ongoing part of your organization’s digital transformation, make sure you leverage your current staff. Look for individuals who have expressed interest in digital banking or who seem to do well in the digital space, and use them as leaders for smaller teams. Tap into their passion for the digital space and analytics by giving them more responsibility and reward.

Utilize External Tools and Experts

Finally, make sure you look for the outside help of a digital consulting group. Experts in the field can work with your internal expert lead to create a digital setup that is, above all else, high performing and cost efficient. Contracting work to a digital partner will ensure you get bang for your buck, give you access to their tools and protect you from having to recreate the wheel when it comes to your digital presence.

Predictive Analytics for Financial Institutions

February 13, 2019

Predictive analytics is already changing the world. Stock brokers, Netflix and data miners are all using customer data to anticipate needs, create valuable offerings and better communicate with their customer base. Financial institutions have huge potential with analytics, both in terms of customer data and the capacity to help customers by better understanding their behaviors. With the security of customer data as a top priority for financial institutions, predictive analytics haven’t been as quick to take off as with other less data-sensitive industries (such as media and entertainment), but 2019 and beyond will see the full expansion of analytics into the financial realm and a world of new benefits for customers.

Acquisition

Understanding current data about customers helps financial institutions better segment their potential customers based on behaviors and promote to them accordingly. In this way, institutions can expand their reach while also differentiating their client base.

The ability to savvily target outreach for new audiences helps financial institutions grow, but pre-screening and understanding customers they reach out to also helps to identify ideal customers. Financial figures, spending habits and credit all play into a financial institutions target market, and predictive analytics helps identify these people beforehand.

Marketing and Promotions

Understanding current customers and their finances goes a long way. Especially with FinTech partnerships on the rise, financial institutions are finding creatives ways to make offerings to customers. With predictive analytics, those offerings can be budget/income/customer-specific and feel more relevant as a result.

Cross-selling, offering new products, enhancing existing services offered to customers and simply providing a higher level of customer service are all core benefits of predictive analytics when used as a marketing function. Consider an example of a FinTech budgeting tool. Promotions and advertisements, like something a customer might see on a dashboard or as a banner ad, could be personalized and reflect their unique financial behaviors. By promoting in this data-driven format, customers can get a valuable perspective on the benefits of a new tool from a personalized ad.

Screening and Qualification

Pre-screening is a valuable and important step in selling a financial product or service. Whether a car loan, mortgage or a credit card, pre-qualification helps pave the way for an appealing and seamless purchasing experience. Customers will be delighted by not having to go through the screening process, and will feel validated as a result. Additionally, predictive analytics can help promote the right type of product a customer successfully qualifies for, avoiding any annoyances or questions that might arise when an unexpected obstacle could have come up in the past due to their financial standing and history.

Security

Predictive analytics serve an essential security function for financial institutions by identifying fraudulent activity. Understanding customer behavior and buying habits enables predictive analytics to accurately identify outliers in their traditional purchases as a means of preventing identity theft.

Similarly, predictive analytics will play an important role in the future of information sharing. Open banking is taking off, and financial institutions need to be able to secure important customer information while also sharing it with FinTech startups and other partners. Predictive analytics, including the dissemination of that information and the way it’s being accessed, will help to identify any breaches in security quicker and allow institutions to act quickly in the event of a security breach. This idea extends to businesses and other vendors, who will benefit from the quick identification and nullification of fraudulent activity.

Maintaining Customer Trust With Open Banking

February 1, 2019

Open banking is a new venture for established financial institutions to share customer data with third parties, notably FinTech partners, to bring more value to the customer. There is an inherent risk in sharing this data, but the benefit of partnering with FinTech organizations offers immense value. Notably, customers can benefit by viewing their finances in easy to understand manners, gain budgeting assistance, or get rewards for the ways they spend their money. Financial institutions benefit by bringing tons of value to their customers at little to no cost.

When financial institutions share customer data, they should consider the following:

Best Practices Are Being Established

Standards for open data sharing are being created, but now is the perfect time for executives and directors to get on board in order to stay on the front end of what will be important to their institutions in the coming years. Charles Schwab, Wells Fargo and other major players in the financial services world recently created the Financial Data Exchange, a nonprofit whose mission is “to unify the financial industry around a common, interoperable standard for secure exchange of financial data.”

The reality is that establishing rigorous data sharing practices will require some time and, likely, some failure. By keeping up on industry missteps, regularly educating staff and hiring the right people to help lead the way, executives can get a foot in the door early and guide their institutions to success.

Legal Scrutiny Will Coincide with New Innovation

Data sharing poses opportunity and risk, and both will continue to happen simultaneously. The opportunity of partnerships with FinTech organizations will drive financial services forward, but scrutiny around data sharing and legal requirements will be a major obstacle and consideration. Major data leaks have fueled the flames of public skepticism toward data sharing, which will trickle down to financial services in the form of legal requirements. In a financial institution’s partnership with a FinTech organization, the financial institution will serve as the legal experts in meeting these requirements.

This presents a unique challenge for executives to encourage innovation while still practicing responsible and legal data sharing practices. Industry-wide standards, regular legal briefings and working together with policy makers to establish standards will be important in the coming year.

Hiring Decisions Should Take Innovation Into Account

Simply put, the world of financial services is changing. FinTech partnerships offer so much potential, but can be unnerving to industry professionals who may be seeing more change in the industry than ever before. Legal requirements make this transition even more intimidating, and other technology such as blockchain and an ongoing digital evolution in banking collectively puts a lot on executives plates.

Executives should continue to familiarize themselves with these technologies, but also hire in-house experts to keep up with these trends and help their organizations transition. The industry is changing too quickly for non-experts to keep up with, and finding data, API and blockchain experts to guide these transitions will be important to safely and opportunistically navigating the changing financial services landscape.

2019 Financial Institution Trends

January 21, 2019

2018 was a big year for financial services. Innovation with the advent of FinTech partnerships, a major push for digitization and a focus on omni-channel experiences defined a big transitionary period. In 2019, these areas of growth and change will continue, along with astute tailoring of new technology and opportunities. Most importantly, financial services organizations will learn to harness the power of digitization and innovation to maximize value and security for customers.

Technological Cohesion

The impetus is on financial institutions to modernize their various back end systems in an increasingly digital age. Most financial institutions have a variety of disparate and disconnected systems for processing and storing data, which presents a unique challenge in 2019 to update.

Despite this challenge, developing simplified, connected systems for processing information is becoming increasingly important as customer data stands to increase exponentially in the coming decade.

A smart system for this transition is to move from digital models to cloud-based solutions, often with a partner to help guide the process. A partner can help ensure cost effectiveness of the transition, a useful degree of interaction between various data sets and applications, the ability to modify and change as technology evolves and the ability to share cloud-based data and information with FinTech partners in a secure way.

FinTech Challenges the Status Quo

Last year, we spoke a lot about the importance and growing influence of partnerships between financial institutions and FinTech startups. While financial institutions bring security along with regulation and a consistent customer base, FinTech startups offer creative ways to look at finances and innovative tools to take customer experience to the next level. The partnership is natural, and this year, this practice enters the mainstream.

Specifically, financial institutions will be seeking these partnerships more commonly as a way to “contract out” innovation and customer offerings. However, to do so, they need to ensure customers’ information and any information sharing is rock solid. Executives and directors should focus their attention on creating an open banking framework that is reliable, secure and prepared for the future of regularly sharing customer information with third party FinTech partners, a practice which is quickly becoming the norm.

Seamless, Integrated Banking

2018 was a huge year for the digitization of banking (yes, branches are still very important), and with an increase in digitization comes an increase in daily integration into consumers’ lives. This has transformed the relationship consumers have with their financial institutions — moving away from infrequent, major banking activities and more toward consistent communication and tweaking of their financial lives.

In this way, the customer journey and omni-channel experience demands a slightly new perspective: thinking of things in terms of customer journey and value, rather than through channel. After an explosion of digitization, making sure each touchpoint brings creates an easy, valuable and personable experience will be a focus for marketers in 2019.

Additionally, new digital technologies will see major growth this year. Most notably, voice services similar to Apple’s Siri will begin to see application in financial services. This trend is growing across industries, but in banking, it will be used for anything from questions about a mobile dashboard to completing an internal money transfer.

Notably, the importance of branches remains. According to Deloitte, services like virtual screen sharing with a branch representative make consumers more likely to visit branches and reiterate the necessity for a comprehensive omni-channel customer journey.