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Tagged: financial services

Welcoming the Era of the Universal Banker

January 14, 2015

Innovations in mobile and digital platforms have influenced significant paradigm changes in how bank and credit union customers interact with their institutions in the virtual space. Now that wave of change is bleeding over into the physical world, with the invention and adoption of the universal banker.

The future and function of the brick-and-mortar branch continues to be a subject of debate, especially as digital solutions have taken their toll on teller transactions and branch foot traffic. Universal bankers are one response to this, with the potential to not only affect the customer experience, but address some of the challenges of staffing and workforce management across bank networks.

The title “Universal Banker” first started catching the industry’s attention in 2015. That year, BAI named increased implementation of universal bankers as one of the most anticipated trends in retail banking. Job listings seeking universal bankers spread rapidly across online platforms among banks big and small.

What is a universal banker?
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In a nutshell, the universal banker role is a hybrid of the traditional teller and the personal banker. Their specialty is being unspecialized – or, maybe more accurately, specializing in everything – and they can be found everywhere on the sales floor, rather than chained to a desk or booth.

Universal bankers take staff roles out of their silos to function across multiple tasks: basic transactions, new accounts, loan applications, and general customer service, to name a few. The degree of universal function will likely vary from bank to bank, but cross-training is the common theme.

How does a universal banker make a difference to customers?

No one likes being given the run-around, whether it’s for a simple transaction or a more complex situation. Handing off a customer from one specialized-but-limited employee to another is not only frustrating for the customer, but has implications for productivity and resource utilization behind the desk.

Universal bankers can handle a customer request from start to finish. Certain sensitive or complex tasks, like mortgages and business loans, may eventually require involving someone higher up the chain, but the average customer can expect a universal banker to take them all the way through the interaction.

In a way, you might consider the universal banker as an accessible middle ground between the convenience and flexibility of automation and the nuance and additional context of personal customer service.

What are some of the challenges of introducing the universal banker?

The universal banker may be agile and adaptable, but that doesn’t mean this model will be appropriate to every institution and every branch.

Implementing universal bankers is not a silver bullet to increase branch traffic, but rather serves to better meet the needs of those customers already coming through those doors. Banks considering this model will need to closely examine just how appropriate it is for each branch.

The other major hurdle is getting employee buy-in. The daily routine at the branch may not be so routine anymore. Training programs and resources will need to be updated, most likely on an ongoing basis, to accommodate this role and its demands. Some long-standing employees may feel threatened by this new breed of coworker.

This isn’t just another position at the bank; it’s a paradigm shift within both customer experience and employee qualifications. The implications for the internal culture cannot be downplayed or dismissed.

What will be the impact of universal bankers?

As banks begin experimenting with universal bankers, ongoing measurement of their internal and external impact will be critical.

That’s why this new trend in retail banking interests us at CSP – we’re passionate about improving the customer experience, and the first step to that improvement is measurement. Voice of the Customer programs like ours can be customized and optimized to capture insights into the effectiveness of universal bankers.

For more information on our VoC and Customer Intelligence solutions, explore our website or contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter@csprofiles – for regular updates and insights on customer experience management.

Mobile is the Land of Opportunity for Banks

November 24, 2014

eMarketer (@eMarketer) recently hosted an informative webinar on the outlook for the financial services industry in 2015 and beyond, based on data collected this year.

The projections point strongly in the direction of mobile banking and payment options gaining broader favor and driving demand. While the Millennial generation has motivated much of the digital advances of the last decade, adoption is projected to increase among the 55-64 and 65+ demographics in the coming years as they become more familiar and comfortable with the new wave of mobile technology.

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Mobile share is only expected to grow in the coming years.

Trends in the mobile technology industry have a distinct ripple effect on financial institutions and consumer expectations. At the beginning of the Millennium it seemed like every new device was smaller than the last; the public’s imagination was captured by the mindblowing amount of information, space and capabilities that we could now fit on something smaller than our thumbs.

But the early part of this decade has seen a demonstrated shift to larger screen sizes and lighter devices. The iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Note, Kindle series and the new category of “phablet” would indicate that the tech industry and consumers might be moving towards a happy medium of size and functionality.

The good news for banks getting into the app game is that a larger screen poses fewer limits on what you can do with that app. Cross-device compatibility is still a thorn in your side in such a fragmented marketplace, but if the eMarketer projections are any indication, sharpening the mobile experience should be a priority and worth the investment.

What’s important to keep in mind is that mobile may be the land of opportunity right now, but we’re still in an omnichannel world, and one channel can’t be emphasized at the expense of others without hurting the customer experience.

Some other interesting takeaways from the eMarketer webinar:

  • Security and privacy concerns, including one’s device getting lost or stolen, remain primary inhibitors to greater mobile banking usage.
  • Between now and 2018, consumers will start making larger purchases on mobile devices (compared to lower-priced purchases like lunch or taxi fare that are gaining traction right now).
  • Proximity payments and near field communication (NFC) are drawing a lot of attention from innovators like Apple and Google, as well as major national retailers.
  • Mobile ad spending will outpace desktop spending in 2016. Financial service advertisers are dedicating more budget to video, which has proved to be an effective engagement tool on digital platforms.

And we especially liked this one, from Vinoo Vijay, CMO at TD Bank:

Our most effective marketing channel is the actual moment when the customer experiences us in our store or on our website. We put a lot of emphasis into the experience that the customer has because, at the end of the day, that experience is far more powerful than anything we can say.

Thanks to Bryan Yeager (@bryanyeager) at eMarketer for leading the webinar. We look forward to helping our financial services clients navigate the evolving customer experience of the next several years.

Online-Only Banks Forcing Traditional Institutions to Upgrade Their Customer Experience

November 12, 2014

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There’s plenty of debate out there among financial services professionals about the fate of the traditional brick-and-mortar branch.

What’s clear is that in the meantime, a new species of bank has been gaining ground and turning heads: the online-only bank.

While consumers are justifiably wary of cybersecurity concerns, the promise made by these services is twofold.

On the Dollars and Cents side, they lure consumers with low- or no-fee banking, perks they can afford due to the lower cost of running an online bank.

And on the Customer Experience side, one word sums it up: convenience. The anywhere, anytime availability of these banks, and the fact that most of them are designed specifically with mobile in mind, is attractive.

Even these digital banks realize the value of a human touch, so many of them also promise the availability of customer service personnel to help as needed.

Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to managing much of their life online, and to being able to get online at a moment’s notice. The fact that these banks don’t tie them down to a particular location or region is another plus.

This emerging competition should be a strong nudge to traditional banks to evaluate the promises they’re making to their customers and what is being done to fulfill those promises.

It’s also yet another incentive to put the spotlight on your digital and mobile services and user experience. Using Voice of the Customer data and insights, you can zero in on the key drivers of satisfaction and make the necessary improvements to meet that goal.

A robust VoC program is your best asset in customer experience management. As we enter 2015, now is a good time to ask: Are you getting everything you need from yours? Contact CSP today to find out what you could be missing.

Great Expectations: Report Finds Banking Customers Demand More of Social, Mobile Channels

October 22, 2014

Banks around the globe have seen a significant decrease in customers’ reports of positive experiences in the last year, according to the 2014 World Retail Banking Report from Capgemini.

While customers continue to take advantage of multiple traditional and modern channels to meet their banking needs, social media and mobile platforms are gaining ground as customers seek quick and easy ways to access and manage their accounts whenever and wherever they are.

Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to other digital-dominant vendors like Google, Amazon and Apple, which continually develop and offer innovative solutions to make the user experience more seamless and convenient. So to the customer’s mind, why should their banks be any different?

Why shouldn’t they be able to send their friends money through Facebook? Why should professional financial advice require an appointment and branch visit? Why should ATM interfaces still look like they did in the 90s? Why shouldn’t a teller be able to deposit a check and show customers how to use the bank’s mobile app?

This attitude is especially common among Generation Y – so-called digital natives with a low tolerance for outmoded, clunky, or inconvenient services and products.

The report found that of all the age groups, Gen Y is considerably less likely to have positive experiences with their banks, indicating that their expectations are higher.

This could be a tipping point for banks as they seek to balance the needs of this new digitally dependent segment with those of long-held customers who place less importance on mobile and social.

The report also examined how positive experiences have a striking influence on profitable customer behaviors like loyalty and referrals, so it won’t suffice to simply find some kind of neutral middle ground. Banks must strive to generate more positive experiences to keep satisfaction high across the board and improve retention.

And indeed, some institutions around the world have begun implementing or experimenting with social-media-powered banking, like Facebook payments or customer service via social channels, and smartphone apps that aren’t just a mobile version of a website.

For example, Moven sells itself as a tool to help its customers keep an up-to-the-minute budget with instant notifications for every transaction, and automatic categorization and data on those transactions – without fees.

But for most institutions, two significant barriers remain:

  1. Legacy technology systems, methods and policies are not equipped to support mobile and social platforms, and upgrading these systems is an enormous and expensive undertaking.
  2. While customers may see social and mobile banking as a no-brainer, it’s fair to say they may not realize that working with third-party systems and platforms opens up a can of worms around privacy and data security.

Look no further than the grand-scale hacking attack against JPMorgan Chase in early October 2014 for evidence that talented hackers are waiting in the wings to exploit intrepid institutions at every turn. Experimental endeavors in social and mobile media are low-hanging fruit for these cyber criminals, so it’s no surprise banks haven’t charged ahead into the digital domain as vigorously as customers might prefer.

While this report offers an intriguing, and perhaps troubling, global picture of retail banking, enterprises should still focus on the voice of their own customers, as measured by current and thorough data, to drive decisions around customer experience management.

As you look ahead to 2015 this quarter, consider tapping CSP’s resources and expertise to guide your strategy. We are passionate about improving the customer experience by turning data into plans for action to drive results. Contact us to learn more.