Customer experience is the defining competitive differentiator in the banking industry today, and for good reason: Financial institutions that invest in the customer experience in banking have higher rates of recommendation, greater wallet share, and are more likely to up-sell or cross-sell products and services to existing customers.

This has incentivized banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions around the globe to take a more discerning look at their current products and services to determine whether there’s room to provide a greater degree of customer-centricity and personalization to enhance the financial services customer experience.

Looking to make some changes to your institution? We’ve compiled this list of top banking customer experience trends to help you get started.

Improve Products & Services With Mobile App Data

Customer self-service is one of the fastest-growing customer experience trends in the banking industry. Thanks to mobility, customers now have the ability to fully access their bank’s resources from their mobile device anywhere they have Wi-Fi, turning what was once a distant dream into a basic expectation.

In today’s market, mobile banking applications aren’t so much a nice-to-have as a need-to-have, and banks without this capability are at a severe disadvantage because customers have come to expect the unparalleled convenience a mobile app provides. The good news is that these apps are easy enough to develop, either through the use of open source software or in partnership with a vendor.

If your institution already has a mobile banking app or recently developed one, the next step is to determine whether you’re utilizing the data from that app effectively. Mobile applications collect a massive amount of data — data that doesn’t do you or your customers any good when it’s left untouched. Data analytics platforms and machine learning algorithms can help you extract valuable information from this customer data, which you can then leverage to develop new products, optimize existing processes, better empower customers, and improve the overall customer experience.

Turn Your Branch Into the “Branch of the Future”

Customers might not visit physical branches as frequently as they once did, but that doesn’t mean banks can afford to sleep on their brick-and-mortar locations. Most brick-and-mortar banks recognized early on that internet banking presented a risk to their model, that small perks such as complimentary coffee and Wi-Fi aren’t enough of a draw for modern customers, and that their physical branches will be shut down if they fail to turn a profit.

The need to compete with internet banks and to improve the customer experience in banking has driven brick-and-mortar banks to reimagine what a physical branch can be and what the “branch of the future” should look like. Some banks have experimented with a showroom-style design similar to that found in Apple Stores, with rows of smartphones and other mobile devices loaded up with their banking app on display, so customers can see the app in action. Others have capitalized on the value of one-on-one, face-to-face interactions by turning their physical branches into customer training venues, where customers can seek consultative services and learn how they can use technology to really make their money go the extra mile.

Ideally, the branch of the future should offer both of these functionalities, as well as self-service options, community space, and advanced technology so that each customer can have a hyper-personalized banking experience that is specific to their unique needs.

Advise Customers Through Every Stage of Their Financial Journey

Most banking customers are looking for ways to grow their money but aren’t sure where to begin, and those who turn to the internet for guidance will likely find the advice on financial sites to be informative, but too broad to be of any real use. This gives banks the perfect opportunity to improve the financial services customer experience by pairing their customers with in-house financial advisors who can provide advice tailored to each customer’s needs.

With customer relationship management (CRM) technology, you can collect and analyze data and build detailed customer profiles, which your in-house advisors can then use to gain a 360-degree view of the customer and their unique situation. This level of insight is incredibly valuable because it enables advisors to offer personalized advice for customers at every stage of their financial journey, build stronger customer relationships, and ensure customer loyalty.

Reduce Customer Service Call Volume With Artificial Intelligence (AI)

There’s nothing more frustrating to a customer than calling their bank’s customer service help line to report an issue, only to be put on hold — but with the volume of calls steadily increasing and not enough representatives on hand to field them, it’s becoming a fraught situation for financial institution call centers.

Fortunately, with customer self-service becoming increasingly popular, innovative solutions are being developed to alleviate this strain and to improve the customer experience in banking. Rather than wait on the phone, customers now have the option to consult AI-enabled chatbots when faced with challenges. These chatbots pull and process information from various sources, such as the bank’s knowledge base and CRM customer profiles, to respond to incoming customer service requests. Should a particular request exceed the chatbot’s capabilities, it’s automatically escalated to a live service representative who can help the customer work toward a resolution. Best of all, more and more banking apps are offering chatbot technology as a native functionality, which means customers can quickly resolve issues from anywhere, at any time.

Banks and their customers both stand to gain from AI innovation: Customers no longer have to waste valuable time waiting to talk to a representative, while banks stand to save a substantial amount of resources that would be otherwise funneled to their call centers. In fact, research studies forecast that chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion per year by 2022. Some financial institutions have even used AI to improve the customer experience in banking even further by developing AI-enabled virtual assistants to provide money management tips and tricks.

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Digitize & Automate the Process of Onboarding New Customers

A quality customer experience hinges on a good first impression; for most banking customers, that first impression takes place during onboarding. Traditionally, new customer onboarding involves filling out and signing stacks of paper, which places an administrative burden on onboarding teams and increases the risk of process bottlenecks, testing customers’ patience. By making onboarding an electronic process rather than a manual, paper-based one, banks make it easy for their customers to provide essential onboarding information from the comfort of their own home. From there, banks can use automation to expedite key parts of the process, so customers can open their accounts that much faster, further enhancing the overall customer experience.

The financial services industry is rapidly changing, shifting toward a model that prizes quality customer experiences over quality products. Are you able to keep up with the pace of change? How would your customers describe their experience with your organization and overall effort across channels?

With years of experience in helping banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions achieve digital transformation by harnessing the power of the Microsoft platform, Hitachi Solutions has seen — and done — it all. Our data science expertise and suite of industry-specific solutions make us the ideal partner for your journey.

We hope you found these banking customer experience trends helpful. Should you find yourself in need of assistance transforming your institution, just give us a call.