To compete in a digital world at a time when global events have accelerated the shift in customer expectations and habits, banks must focus on personal and emotional connections with customers to strengthen their trust and grow.
Banking customers are re-examining their relationship with money, their financial resilience and theirrelationships with institutions after a year in which global events massively accelerated change and shifted customer expectations and habits.
Today, businesses, society and individuals need banks to step forward as full partners and align purpose with profit. This presents banks with an opportunity to emerge from a global crisis as heroes, or at least valued partners—a far cry from their personas during the 2008 global recession.
Momentum for change has been building for years, but the conditions are now perfect for an ambitious and fundamental rewriting of old rules. Banks’ compass for success should orient around how their customers and employees are experiencing their brand.
Now is the time for us to step up and reimagine the banking experience. This requires organizing the whole business around the delivery of exceptional experiences, which entails the rewiring of the customer-facing functions of the organization: marketing, commerce, sales and service. This allows organizations to become customer-obsessed and to reignite growth.
Here, we identify four opportunity areas for reinventing the banking experience. Each is significant and important. Combined, they represent a reimagination of banking as we know it.
Banks are falling short when it comes to meeting customer expectations around product variety and accessibility. By addressing these needs, banks can reimagine their credit products, models and corporate culture to deliver the next-generation credit experience.
This is the business of giving credit where it’s due.
2. Pay it forward: Embracing the shifting payments paradigm
A new payments paradigm is emerging where the payment is no longer the final obstacle to obtaining a product or service. Rather, it’s an enabler of a connected commerce experience with the consumer as the payment form factor. For banks to stay relevant, they must drive this shift and adapt their commerce experiences accordingly.
Customers and employees expect the organizations they deal with to stand for something beyond selling a product or service, with relationships built on shared values and empathy. For banks, this means truly standing for something or standing aside. Now is the time to reframe purpose.
We are in a digital era where engagement is primarily virtual. Yet, while banks have become functionally complete, they are emotionally detached. Banks must act now to preserve personal and emotional connection with customers to stand out, and to retain and grow trust.
Momentum for change in banking has been building for years, but the conditions are now perfect for ambitious and fundamental rewriting of old rules.
The waves of change
Banking today is a macro-environment where customer and employee expectations are rising even faster than profits. Many banks, which have accelerated their digital transformation, removing the human touch from many interactions, are now facing the danger that customers will perceive them as commodities and seek out the lowest-cost providers rather than trusted advisors for their financial health.
COVID-19 has accelerated change in banking, and customer behavior and demands have shifted rapidly. Digital engagement during the pandemic increased—50 percent of consumers now interact with their bank through a mobile app or website at least once a week, compared with just 32 percent two years ago1. Branch transactions have significantly reduced.
All of this has forced those who have been reluctant to digitize—customers and banks alike—to embrace digital for its convenience, availability and accessibility.
Now, a year on, with customer behavior shifted, new digital-first habits established, and new ways of working adopted, things will not revert to pre-pandemic norms. The rapid uptake of digital wallets and non-cash payment over the past 12 months, for example, has resulted in new ways of paying that will remain popular well into the future as new payment paradigms emerge.
Today, banks must find more empathetic, personalized and engaging ways of operating and servicing customers.
To sustain relevance and profit, they must reconnect meaningfully with the minds, hearts and wallets of customers. They can begin by reimagining how their purpose and personality come to life in their products, services and operating models—especially their credit and payment products.
Time to rethink credit and payments
Obtaining traditional credit can be a draining, confusing process for customers. Even in segments with all the necessary financial history and means to obtain credit (those who anticipate a “yes”), customers can face challenges, including:
Antiquated, confusing application and decisioning processes
Complicated terms and conditions
Burdensome duplicative documentation
Unclear credit criteria
“One-size-fits all” products
For mid-market borrowers with responsible financial behavior but limited credit history, or those who are adversely affected by risk models, rejection helps shape their perception that traditional banks are not their ally. By deeply understanding these segments and how they use money, however, banks can develop new credit products and risk frameworks that can responsibly provide more people access to credit and, in doing so, reimagine these customers’ credit experiences.
Banks have also not always been in the forefront of reducing the friction and waste of time that many people experience around payments. They have not provided sufficient new propositions in the payments domain to show a commitment to providing new value to their customers—whether it be the end consumers or the merchants who depend on payments for their commercial health.
Digital disruptors and non-banks have been actively innovating with new formats and propositions, going after payment “replacement revenue” in the form of value-added services and experiences. However, no single player in the ecosystem of issuers, wallet providers, payment facilitators and retailers has delivered a holistic solution for enabling a frictionless connected-commerce experience. This is an opportunity for banks to step in and provide this kind of experience for consumers, small businesses and merchants alike.
Purpose and personality
Banks that aim to be more than a utility need to face up to some challenging facts:
While money is essential and powers people’s lifestyles, people rarely find banking and banks relevant, let alone exciting.
Those who stand for nothing increasingly stand alone.
Banks need to connect more authentically and emotionally with the communities and individuals they serve; functional competence isn’t enough to drive human connection and loyalty.
Yet banks’ traditional reticence about many issues has made it hard for customers and employees to tell if their bank really cares about or stands for anything. This matters, as across every sector, the pressure is on for all organizations to take a stand on topics ranging from the environment to social justice, and to ensure their operations benefit all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
Purpose should not merely be claimed, however. It should be experienced. To feel authentic, purpose should pervade every interaction, internal and external, and be sustained over time. To be experienced, it should be woven into the core of a company’s business model and operations.
In an increasingly digital world, where people are left seeking more empathetic, human connections, banks have become functionally complete yet emotionally detached. The resulting vicious cycle—where banks are seen as largely homogenous, offering similar products and services—leaves them heading into a commodity and margin trap.
Banks have a unique opportunity to align value and values, by focusing on consumers’ and communities’ financial well-being in a win-win relationship that delivers long-term trust, relevance and profits.
Our opportunity areas highlight where banks can reinvent the banking experience for the next era.
We help reinvent the front office across products, marketing operations, sales and commerce, and customer service to unlock growth and drive new experiences that make lives easier, healthier, safer and rewarding.