Transformative Change in the New Year

Transformative Change in the New Year


As we know, the move to a new year always brings about the topic of change.  We all want the new year to look… well… new.  We clean out files, organize our desk, vow to start exercising/lose weight/give up caffeine/drink more water/eliminate sugar.  You know the drill.  We are so focused on change; we assume every change is equally necessary and important.  But is that true?

Merriam Webster defines change as “the act, process or result of changing: such as alteration, transformation, substitution.”  When we equate change with transformation, the word takes on more meaning and implies a level of priority.  I love this quote by Jillian Michaels.  It sums my thoughts on the concept of transformation:

“Transformation isn’t a future event; it’s a present day activity.”

When many of us think of change, we think of an immediate fix.  A quick resolution.  Checking the box.  However, transformative change consists of day-to-day activities that build on themselves over time.  Any organization that wants a transformative level of change understands that the entire business culture may be impacted.  That is never a quick event.

What about your financial institution?  What needs transformation?

One area every financial institution needs to address is the customer experience.  It is not enough to merely shorten lines at the branches.  The customer experience reaches across all areas, from products to facilities, the online and mobile experience, as well as call centers.  Interestingly, nearly half (49.4%) of all customer interactions with financial institutions now occur online.  37.9% are still conducted in-person and 12.5% occur via phone calls according to “4 Ways Financial Marketers Can Improve the Consumer Experience” by Jeff Cotrupe.

  1. If 38% of all business is conducted in person, then branches are here to stay. What is the branch experience when a customer walks in the door?  Dated? Understaffed?  Warm and inviting?  Can I access guest Wi-Fi while I am waiting to meet with a loan officer?
  2. Mobile and online aren’t the future. They are today! How’s your app?  Easy to use?  Intuitive?  Can I check balances, deposit checks, pay bills, transfer money from my phone? These are minimum requirements.  How’s the online and mobile app response time?  How often is the mobile app down for updates?  Customer expectations continue to rise as with technological advances.For those of you more focused on small business/commercial customers:  expectations are increasing.  If I can do various online and mobile activities for my consumer loans, deposits and other services, why can’t I do the same for my small business/commercial accounts as well?
  1. Your competition for the positive customer experience is not just other financial institutions. It’s also established tech firms, according to Bain & Company’s article “Evolving the Customer Experience in Banking“. Companies like Amazon, PayPal and Google understand good customer service as well, if not better, than your financial institution.  Today, many consumers are open to buying financial products from established tech firms. Amazon and PayPal ranked almost as high as banks when customers were polled about trust and money.   This is not just millennials either!  42% of those age 55 and older, and 61% of those 35-54 would be willing to buy financial products from tech companies.How can you transform your customer service to make the customer want to stay with your financial institution?  What lessons can you take from the tech firms?  How can you mirror their success factors including ease of use, 24 hour availability, low cost, etc.?
  1. Do not assume no complaints equals a happy customer base! Encourage feedback.  Engage social media.  Have your branch team call and ask for input.  The call center can use an automated survey process.  Gather the information and then use it for continuous, transformative improvement.

Why does all this matter? A positive customer experience means loyalty to your financial institution.  Greater loyalty means a deeper financial relationship with the customer, which means greater profitability for the financial institution.  If I have a great customer experience with your financial institution, I am coming to you for my next loan request, and I will move more of my deposit relationship to your organization.

All of this can turn an average customer experience into a great one.  It does not happen overnight or with one sweeping change.  Focus on the step-by-step activities and bring about a transformative level of change across your organization.

Topics: online lending