Understand Digital Banking Trends

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain how the Age of the Customer affects banking.
  • Describe what banks can do to win customer loyalty.
  • Initiate or accelerate your own bank’s digital transformation.

At Salesforce, we’ve been partnering with banks of every size for 18 years. In that time, we’ve learned a thing or two about what customers expect from their banks. Here, we share our vision for how banks can evolve to meet the needs of today’s customers.

Let’s begin by reviewing some of the key trends impacting the banking industry today.

The Age of the Customer Has Arrived

A new generation of consumers is emerging. They expect products and services to be delivered when and where they need them. After all, consumers now spend an average of 74 hours a month in mobile apps, according to the comScore 2016 US Mobile App Report. They spend most of that time using a handful of services from companies, such as Google and Facebook, that deliver sophisticated user experiences.

Graphic illustrating the Age of the Customer and the Salesforce services for banks: Unified Digital Banking, Actionable Analytics, Smart Services, Connected Banking Processes, Needs-Based Sales, Omni-Channel Service, Next Best Action, Banking Communities

In this new landscape, banks are no longer just competing against one another. They’re competing against any company in any industry that offers customers a seamless experience. A Millennial Disruption Index survey from the researcher Scratch found that 73% of millennials are more excited about a new offering in financial services from Google, Amazon, Apple, PayPal, or Square than they are from their own bank. Convenience is the new loyalty, and banks need to provide the levels of speed, intelligence, and seamlessness that their customers expect.

Banks Face a Loyalty Crisis

At the same time that customer expectations are evolving, traditional banks face a loyalty crisis. That’s partly because financial technology (fintech) competitors—companies that use new technology to enhance customer engagement in financial services—are emerging to offer new, seamless experiences for payments, loans, investment management, and banking services. It’s also because customers are far less likely to need the extensive networks of physical branches that traditional banks maintain.

In its 2017 Connected Banking Customer Report, Salesforce found that 46% of consumers said that mobile apps or websites are the main way they perform routine banking transactions : deposits, transfers, bill payments. In today’s consumer banking world, it’s less about the branch network, and more about offering a superior user experience. This lets fintechs play a larger role in customers’ financial lives and “unbundle” financial services in a way that challenges the traditional position of banks.

Image illustrating how fintechs (represented as several small trees sprouting) are emerging to challenge traditional banks (represented as one large tree)

Therefore, it’s not surprising that a Bain & Company report revealed that a third of consumers say they purchase financial products from a competitor of their primary bank. These customers are essentially cheating on their banks. But they’re hardly to blame: Salesforce found that 49% of consumers say their bank doesn’t reach out to understand their needs.

The Shift to Customer-Centric Sales Practices

Growing competition and changing customer expectations are not the only forces driving the increased importance of understanding customer needs. There’s also regulatory pressure.

Cross-selling has become a dirty word, and every bank is refactoring its selling practices to put the customer’s needs at the forefront. Rather than having a transaction- or product-oriented perspective on sales, banks are working to implement relationship management approaches that emphasize life events or financial goals that can trigger a customer’s need for financial services.

This also has implications for how banks offer incentives to their salespeople and authorize customer consent. Instead of rewarding salespeople for selling a certain number of products per customer (for example, credit cards, insurance, mortgage), banks are moving toward a more holistic evaluation system based on metrics. These metrics can include account usage, customer satisfaction, and retention. This system encourages banks to consider a customer’s needs at any given moment, to make sure they offer customers the right product at the right time. In addition, banks are reviewing their processes for documenting consent from customers who enroll in multiple products or services across lines of business.

Diving into Digital Transformation

Adapting to banking industry trends can seem daunting, but don’t worry. One thing you can do to begin or accelerate your bank’s digital transformation is to outline a strategy.

Banks can start by thinking about digital transformation holistically. It’s no longer enough to deliver personalized experiences to a specific subset of customers or through a particular channel. Financial institutions need to achieve a single view of the customer across lines of business—retail, consumer credit, mortgage, insurance, premier banking, and even commercial lending.

It’s equally important to realize that digital banking means thinking about the customer experience beyond the confines of any individual channel. To paraphrase banking commentator Chris Skinner: We have to talk about customers, not channels.

To prioritize a place to start, banks can talk to their customers and employees. Banks can study their habits and identify opportunities to partner with technology providers that can make it easier to scale a digital transformation initiative. That’s where Salesforce comes in. In the next unit, we talk about how major evolutions in technology are sparking digital transformation at banks, and how Salesforce can help.


2016 US Mobile App Report

The Millennial Disruption Index

Salesforce 2017 Connected Banking Customer Report

Customer Loyalty in Retail Banking: Global Edition 2014

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