Data collection is vital. So are mobile and fraud alerts. However, for banks and credit unions still trying to do more to meet the demands of customers in this digital world (and as those customers continue to become more demanding), service can never slip.
Those were among the prime observations offered by Jon Rosner, Fiserv’s vice president of digital, during a recent discussion with Karen Webster. In the latest edition of the “PYMNTS Walk to the Elevator” podcast interview series, the two talked about how financial institutions (FIs) are responding to the digital consumer experience.
An old, but pragmatic, saying serves as a good rule of thumb for FIs in making decisions about how to invest in digital, Rosner told Webster: To determine where to build a sidewalk, look at where people have worn down the grass.
“Some banks and credit unions are looking at what are the largest activities their customers are currently doing in the digital environment, and trying to make them better,” he said. In fact, he said that in general, FIs are realizing the importance of spending money to improve their data and digital marketing capabilities.
Yet, that doesn’t mean those FIs are ignoring the old-fashioned ways of doing things — or that they should. As digital continues to advance, banks and credit unions are still finding significant value in figuring out “what is driving consumers to come into a branch or call a call center, and then say how can we make those experiences better,” Rosner said.
Properly handled, a focus on branches and call centers enables FIs to take advantage of what Rosner called their strongest asset: their employees. They are not only the face of the brand, but their expertise at solving customer problems or selling new products and services can lead to more account openings and card activations.
“In a world that is increasingly perceived to be commoditized, it is often the service experience that differentiates you,” Rosner said.
It’s not only a high level of in-person service that can help FIs thrive in this digital world. Incremental service additions can help more than might initially be assumed. As Rosner told Webster, a “large number of U.S. financial institutions have rolled out some version of card-free cash” — that is, enabling customers to use mobile phones to make ATM withdrawals, which can prevent the delays and frustrations that come from lost or compromised debit cards.
In addition, FIs are understanding the value of enabling customers to turn debit cards off and on. That is another “small incremental thing” that, when combined with transaction alerts and the ability to monitor account changes in real time, gives customers a strong sense of confidence that they are protected against fraud.
The return on investment in such services — along with, say, making it easy for customers to use their cards overseas without interruption, or offering secure mobile messages that warn of suspicious transactions instead of making consumers call a phone number — can be meaningful.
“Those consumers increase their spending quite significantly, particularly [those] who were not as engaged before,” Rosner said. “That becomes pretty powerful.”
Part of the reason for that, of course, is trust. Digital may run on data, but financial services run on trust. That said, “positive reinforcement” also plays a role.
“In today’s world, consumers are overloaded with stimulus from increasingly more devices,” Rosner said. FIs that can cut through that clutter with positive connections and messages will find themselves at an advantage. And, because fraud threats will never disappear, centering those connections around fraud protection and prevention provides ample opportunities for banks and credit unions to win and keep the loyalties of digital consumers.
Though it has never made sense for any business to treat success as an invitation to stop innovating, such a mindset is even more disastrous now, given how web and mobile technology have all but trained consumers to keep expecting more.
“The only thing advancing faster than technology is consumer expectations,” Rosner said.