Keeping it personal in a digital banking world

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The Federal Reserve Board recently found that 43 percent of all mobile phone users with bank accounts had used mobile banking in the previous 12 months, up from 22 percent in the agency’s 2011 survey.

Digital channels are being widely accepted by today’s consumers as a time-saving and frictionless way to bank. While in-branch banking may still be a preferred choice for some consumers, and likely won’t become obsolete, it’s clear that other channels are now being adopted into the mix. But with this adoption comes the increase in impersonal transactions through online and mobile banking, drastically impacting the traditional model of building relationships through in-person transactions that took place through routine in-branch banking and allowed banks to offer truly individualized experiences to customers through products and services that meet their specific needs. This was the backbone of sales and customer retention.

The benefits of these relationships are many and include a longer lifetime of customer accounts and increased utilization of products. There is no doubt that when employees get to know their customers on an individual basis, it significantly improves their ability to successfully present products that meets their needs.

But with the rise of mobile banking and video banking, both remote and in-branch, customers are leaning more towards their digital options, and bank staff, therefore, needs to capitalize on the face-to-face interactions that they do come across.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review Study, a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email based request, and email carries many similarities to online and digital banking. For example: both are primarily text based and quite impersonal. One could even argue that an email is more personal than online banking because the email likely comes from an individual vs. a banking institution pushing information to you. In either case, it is not hard to see why cross-selling or customer service is a significantly more successful experience if it happens via face-to-face communication.

Armed with an understanding that face-to-face communication is incredibly important, we are still left with the question of how to bring it to digital banking and use it to build customer relationships?

A common half-step solution that many financial institutions employ is adding phone support that customers can call for complex or high-level transactions. Whereas it is a step in the right direction, it falls short in mimicking the in-person experience that has for so long helped build critical relationships with your customers. For that reason, enabling a real-time video option is the best way to bring the human touch back to these important transactions and create the trust that can only be built through shared human experience. For example, video can help offer access to additional expertise and support and can help customers get served more quickly.

I’ve had the opportunity to witness the effects of this at Missouri-based, BluCurrent Credit Union where they are seeing the benefits of face-to-face video collaboration.

BluCurrent leverages video to ensure members can connect with subject matter experts and through these face to face interactions, BluCurrent has seen their cross-sales rate increase by 20 percent. In Pennsylvania, Diamond Credit Union, has been using the face-to-face video interaction for loan applications and the results have been spectacular. Members love the video experience and have rated it a 4.93/5 for satisfaction. In fact, many institutions report a 70 percent increase in NPS score with a 50 percent increase in first call resolution with video vs. phone support.

The banking industry is evolving, but the human touch that drives success in banking is now more important than ever. While fewer people might be walking into actual branches, that is not a reason to give up on what has made banks so successful – customer relationships. In fact, through the use of technology, you can meet customers where they are and show a genuine desire to connect with them.

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