The increasing encroachment of fintech start-ups is driving companies in all industries to "re-imagine the consumer experience" for their offerings. This is especially true for banks and credit unions. Digital delivery of financial services, whether it be opening an account, applying for a loan, or carrying out another account transaction, is "table stakes" for just about any bank or credit union - now the focus is turning to the optimization of those platforms.
I was thinking of this trend during recent travels, and started relating the aims of the banks and credit unions to that of the airlines. Having traveled, and flown, a fair share over a number of years, I recognize the enhancements that have been introduced to my digital experience with the airlines. I can book or change a flight, change seats, and check status of flights from my phone. No more printing boarding passes or searching for a gate agent. As much as I'm appreciative of this though, the seats on the planes seem to shrink each year, delays appear commonplace, and I shudder at the thought of waiting for checked luggage to arrive at the baggage claim. In other words - my digital experience with the airlines is better, but the journey may be worsening.
Wise organizations will recognize the distinction between the consumer digital experience and the consumer journey. Increasingly, that journey will begin from a laptop, tablet, or mobile device - sure. So, the accessibility, look & feel, and ease of use of the digital 'front-end' is important. It's not paramount. Slick data capture on a new account application website is nice. Nicer still is not needing to enter data if I'm already an account holder. A text message the next day with my loan approval is nice…but not as beneficial as an instantaneous decision and next steps delivered right after I apply.
The foundation of the consumer digital loan or account application experience may be the website or mobile app, but the foundation of the consumer journey is the systems, people, and processes in place behind the scenes. So, when setting out to optimize the consumer journey, it's a good idea to start with that foundation. Identify the areas of friction in those processes - the need to access multiple systems, the extra clicks a user needs to perform, manual decision points or handoffs between people or teams. In almost all cases, it's these inefficiencies that delay the ultimate desired destination of the consumer - whether it's getting funds into a new account, or perhaps receiving the funds to buy that new car.
Efficiently leveraging data and integration amongst systems, streamlining and automating workflow and decisioning, and driving out manual and paper-based processes and tasks will empower a bank or credit union to optimize the journey. It will get the consumer to his or her destination faster and more efficiently. And, that's the key to having satisfied account holders who will come back for more product & services and be willing to influence others to try their bank or credit union. No matter how easy it was to book my flight, it pales in importance to getting me home on time.