Bank Customer Experience Summit 2019 – Key Themes and Takeaways

The Fourth Annual Bank Customer Experience Summit was held September 23- 25 in downtown Chicago. Speakers from large banks and small banks alike as well several Fintechs and industry players gathered to speak to a wide range of topics from digital banking to the role and sources of innovation within banking.

What is the purpose of a bank in the 21st century?

As one speaker astutely noted, banks should be encouraging bankers to do what people do best – establishing relationships and trust. This underscores one of the critical takeaways from the conference, that for all the talk about Uber, Starbucks, and technology the banking relationship is just that: a relationship.

Basic banking transactions such as checking a balance, making a deposit or a withdrawal, or paying a bill benefit greatly from the advance of technology. Banks, however, exist in large part to help people become financially successful, and initiatives that place bankers at the service of improving consumer financial literacy and easing the discomfort associated with new financial steps are essential to maintaining the relationship of trust and service.

Understanding the different experiences clients desire

Mobile and internet banking have not heralded the complete death of the branch, while technology can also play an important role in the physical location. Keynote Speaker Jeremy Balkin of HSBC posed the question of how frequently consumers positively engage with their bank on social media platforms. He followed up with a discussion of the successes associated with placing the Pepper robot in the branch and pointing to the increase in traffic that it prompted.

In addition, meeting and exceeding customer expectations of the banking experience requires that banks pay attention the many different generations they serve. While it can be tempting to lump most consumers into either Boomer or Millennial categories, customer needs are not so easily categorised, and even among these categories there can be significant variation – flexibility is a key element.

Should banks seek to become the Uber or the Amazon of financial services?

Balkin also mentioned that Banks are judged not only by their consumers’ last banking experience, but also against their most recent best customer experience – whether that be with Starbucks, Uber, Amazon, or any number of other companies. While this illustrates the fact that particularly mobile banking experiences will need to continue to evolve new features and capabilities to succeed, it may not always imply drastic spending to become a first mover.

While challenger banks and fintechs do attract consumers, clients are less likely to switch between banks on a whim the way they do with other app based services. The ability to freeze a credit card is a prime example. While this feature was touted heavily when the first banks began rolling it out, it did not lead to a mass migration in customers. Instead, this feature has quickly moved to become one of the standard mobile banking offerings. Banks, particularly smaller banks, should focus more of their efforts on ensuring that their systems are upgraded and capable of implementing popular solutions as they become available, rather than seeking constantly to reinvent the banking experience from the ground up.