By Gavin Mee, Head of Salesforce, UK
The Bank of England is 323 years old this year. It stands solid and proud in its tradition of stability and financial, fiduciary controls. In fact, with its nickname of The Old Lady, it’s become a symbol of how we view our financial institutions: banks have traditionally been the bedrock of UK society.
But tradition doesn’t always equal reliability; trust in these national institutions has wavered somewhat in the last few years. According to Salesforce’s 2017 Connected Banking Customer Report, less than a third (29%) of all Brits strongly agreed they trust their banks with their financial information. Only 15% of customers strongly agreed that banks have their best interests at heart.
This lack of trust is one of the contributing factors which have allowed a disruptor model of banking to evolve. A wave of agile, mobile-first alternatives to traditional banks such as Atom Bank are not just securing funding from investors; they’re securing more and more customers as they grow. And much of the success of these new banks rests on their customer centricity; they understand how customers want to interact with them and anticipate their needs to offer a more personalised service.
As the wider financial services sector confronts the greatest period of disruption in its history, banks in particular are facing a pivotal moment – particularly as customers are looking to other fintech challengers, as well as those focused on retail banking. Our report showed that 83% of millennials have used fintech companies for basic payment activities. It’s clear that traditional banks must embrace change in order to meet the evolving needs of their customers and defend against competition which is increasingly coming from different directions. Tapping into the digital innovation that is happening across the industry is key to bridging the gap from the traditional banks of yesterday, to the nimble banks of tomorrow.
Technology plays a great role in helping banks achieve a more customer centric approach, designed to boost trust, convenience and security. Integrating cloud, social and mobile technologies enables banks to engage customers at any time, from any device and in new, personalised ways.
One of the key benefits that cloud computing offers is the ability to break down silos. The report shows that, regardless of age, customers of today opt to bank via a range of channels. For example, banking websites are now the most popular way to carry out routine transactions, with nearly a third (30%) saying this is the main channel they use for this type of task. Use of mobile apps is also on the up – in fact, almost half (45%) of the younger, millennial generation interact with their banks via an app several times a week, or more.
But despite our love of technology, we still value the in-branch experience. When you dive into the mechanics beyond simple transactions – and incorporate investment and money management – face to face interaction still wins at significant levels. What’s more, this holds true across the generations. Look at the figures: 70% of millennials, 75% of gen Xers and 73% of baby boomers still walk into a branch at least once every few months.
In this, traditional banks with their high-street presence still have the upper hand. And this presence offers a great opportunity to add real value, complementing the online experience. With customers using multiple channels to access services, banks can use technology to understand data from each interaction, including the in-branch experience – when it occurred, what the customer required, and whether any follow up is required.
Achieving this relies on a single view of each and every customer, blending the online and the in-branch experience which is still valued by so many customers. By breaking down the silos between each channel, and understanding the resulting customer data, banks will ensure that engagement is meaningful and personalised at each touch point.
For banks that have been slower to adapt, now really is the time to look to technology to create a more joined up, seamless experience. By listening to, and truly understanding, customer needs, retail banks can effectively blend the online and in-branch experience, and will meet and exceed expectations for years to come.