Bringing banking closer

The importance of financial institutions having a multi-channel strategy is something we’ve already covered on this blog, but the rapid rate of change the industry is experiencing makes it a topic worth revisiting regularly. Advancing technological capabilities have opened the floodgates for ‘always-on’ mobile banking – a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the raft of new challenger banks such as Starling, Atom and Monese.

Championing digital tools that enable customers to bank whenever and wherever they want – to the point of doing away with physical branches entirely – this new breed of financial institution stands to benefit from closer, more personal relationships with their audience. And McKinsey has warned that if more traditional banks don’t keep up with these trends, they stand to lose as much as 60% of their retail profits in the coming years.

So if you want a digital strategy that helps increase the frequency and intensity of user engagement – whether you’re an established institution or an emerging start-up – where should you be looking?

Going back to basics

Before you start to think about the ‘delighters’ such that will help capture and keep your customers’ attention, you need a strong foundation from which to build. And with customers increasingly turning to mobile devices to find information and complete transactions, it’s vital that these activities are made as simple and streamlined as possible.

Of course, this means taking the time to uncover the most important journeys, tasks and goals for your particular institution – as well as understanding how different use cases and device constraints affect user behaviour – making a detailed user research phase essential. Not only will this enable you to spot barriers that need to be removed and pain points that need to be eased, but you’ll also be able to identify opportunities to add value to your existing processes and services, and outperform your competitors too.

Breaking down barriers

While mobile is inarguably an important banking tool, it’s far from the only one. There’s a whole host of different platforms and devices to consider, alongside more established communication channels such as call centres and physical branches. Today it’s not unusual for customers to journey across and between multiple touchpoints in order to achieve their goals. As such, in addition to optimising for the various considerations that come with each individual platform, you need to make sure they’re all connected too. A best-of-breed Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is obviously key here. (CRM integration also brings with it various other benefits – take a look at our related blog post to learn more.)

Encouraging engagement

Attracting new customers through the promise of convenient and friction-free banking experiences is one thing – retaining them is of course another. By making the banking experience more helpful and insightful, these kind of features can drive greater engagement with your services – helping give your institution a more integral and trusted role in customers’ day-to-day lives.

Here, too, technological advances have opened up a wealth of possibility. Applications such as mobile wallets and contactless payments have become common as smartphone capabilities continue to progress, while wearable technologies such as smartwatches mean that people can check their balances without a pause.

Increasingly sophisticated mobile devices have also seen Personal Finance Management (PFM) tools – which enable customers to analyse their finances in detail – grow in popularity and ubiquity. For example, our client TBC Bank now provides PFM capabilities to customers through its internet, tablet and smartphone banking services, as part of their award-winning multi-channel strategy.

These money categorisation and management tools don’t just deliver added value for your customers though – they also present further opportunities to increase engagement, customer awareness about their spending habits, plus of course sales opportunities through techniques such as gamification. Such an approach has been adopted by many progressive organisations within the financial sector (and beyond), and employs features like savings goals and viral campaigns to tap into fundamental human instincts such as the desire for competition, achievement and status. Motivated in this way, customers are encouraged to engage more often and more deeply with financial tools – helping them improve their money management behaviours while driving greater adoption of financial products and services for your organisation.

Through this kind of gamification you’ll also benefit from a wealth of insight into customers’ individual contexts and objectives – information that can then be used to deliver highly relevant and timely messages, offers and support. These communications can be targeted even further when combined with information on user preferences, past interactions and product portfolios – another benefit to be had from CRM integration.

Getting things going

No matter what stage you’re at on your digital journey, there are always opportunities out there to make customer interactions with your financial institution more accessible, usable and enjoyable. And it’s not just your customers that will benefit from this investment – you’ll also reap the rewards of increased engagement and greater audience insight.

At Box UK we have a strong team of bespoke software consultants with more than two decades of bespoke software development experience in the finance sector and beyond. If you’re interested in finding out more about how we can help you, contact us on +44 (0)20 7439 1900 or email