Six ways retail banks can achieve digital success

27 October 2015 4 min. read

Retail banks need to do more to satisfy the expectations of digitally empowered consumers, as more than half are unsatisfied with the performance of their banking institution within the digital space. In a recent article, Cognizant considers six different strategies retail banks can consider embracing to improve customer experience, and therewith, their bottom line and profits.

Consumers have been spoiled by the seamless operation and experience of online interactions with the likes of Google, Apple and others. Their services are all fast and intuitive yet lack a physical junction. Banks however, have been somewhat slow to create similarly fast and intuitive systems and processes to accommodate the needs of consumers. As it stands, only 28% of consumers are satisfied with their retail bank’s digital experience. Retail banks therefore have a long way to go to achieve seamless digital experiences.

Six-pronged approach

Not every bank is behind in the digital game however, in a recently published article services giant Cognizant highlights that Ally, Moven and Simple have each been rewarded with their focus on improving customer experience within the digital space. In the case of Simple, growth rates of as much as 300% annually are experienced. According to the conclusions of Cognizant’s article, there are six steps retail banks need to engage in to “get with the times, delight customers and reap the rewards.” provides a summary:

Put customers first (profits will follow). Being customer-centric and meeting their needs and changing expectations as digital channels become the norm, is coming to define how well companies perform. What is convenient for consumers needs to outweigh what is convenient for banks. Retail banks must therefore create service offerings that include responsive cross platform websites, as well as apps that provide access to account details and financial planning services.

What consumers want

Have a mobile-first mind-set. When focussing on meeting customer expectations with an omni-channel approach, mobile apps remain a priority according to Cognizant. The simple reason is that apps are preferred over mobile banking. Research shows that 66% of total hours per month are spent through apps vs. 34% on browsers. As it stands, more than 40% of banking happens through a mobile app and the quality of that experience is the reason a third stays with their bank. All told, banks must ensure their apps are defect-free, feature rich and beyond what’s expected from a conventional website.

Listen to and decode customer data. Banks have available to them a wide range of information related to their customers and their spending habits. That information could be used to create profiles on the people that use the bank, which can then be leveraged for commercial or other ends. To exploit these details however, banks will need to invest in IT infrastructure and move away from siloed legacy systems. Banks should also invest in stronger analytics tools to prevent misinterpretation, and take care not to violate privacy norms and expectations.

Enhance mobile and online capabilities

Fatten margins with social media innovations. Only a small 10% of customers interact with banks through social media, with the majority engaging via ATMs, branches and apps. However, those that do engage through social media tend to be relatively young (33), wealthy ($100,000 in investable assets) and hard to reach. The group also tends to be more valuable to the bank, generating up to twice the $1,262 of the average customer. By developing banking features, such as small payment options within social media environments, the young customer segment can be better served.

Enhance the branch and ATM experience. Improving physical services, such as more creative ways to understand the branch and ATMs that provide a wider range of options and act more like an app, has the potential to provide a customer service enhancement. Some banks are offering free access to mobile devices at branches, or have added coffee bar services. In addition, some ATMs can now perform functions like remembering customer preferences such as language and account history, card-less transactions, smartphone connectivity and live video chat with a remote teller.

Provide a seamless channel experience

Sustain a seamless omni-channel experience. With the addition of a wide range of new channels, such as mobile sites and apps, it becomes important to make sure that each of the new channels is integrated seamlessly into the whole to create a single customer experience. This will require banks to improve their IT and physical integration. Customer-facing employees, for instance, should have real-time access to the same customer data to more effectively serve customers, while allowing customers to make a full range of permissible banking actions throughout the various channels.