Talking Digital Sales for Financial Institutions at TAG FinTech South

Talking Digital Sales for Financial Institutions at TAG FinTech South

Last week, I attended the FinTech South 2018 conference in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by the Technology Association of Georgia. As the Southeast’s largest event dedicated to financial innovation, I joined a sold-out crowd of about 1,300 other attendees to hear from 100 leading industry speakers and experts and connect with Georgia’s FinTech community, an industry that touches over 400 companies across multiple industries here and on a global scale.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Disrupting and Delivering a Better Customer Experience,” specifically by looking towards the future of FinTech and how that will help improve the customer experience, which is very much in tune with Gro’s overall philosophy. In fact, I was part of the event, where I had the pleasure of being joined by Anoop Warrier, SVP, Head of Consumer Digital, SunTrust Bank, and Joe Salesky, CEO, CRMNEXT, Inc. for a panel where we discussed designing great customer experiences for mobile-first banking.

It was a great discussion, and though we touched on several important points, such as how core systems are not where they should be, the need to reduce redundancies and friction in the process, and how almost half of most FIs’ market spend is going underutilized, there was one core concept that arose – the idea of the journey. In a time when everyone is looking for the best solution and striving to differentiate themselves digitally, it’s the journey that should be at the center of it all.

Ask most FIs about the journey, and they can explain it from an individual standpoint – each process, application, operation or project has a journey, but the problem is often the journeys that connect all these, across an entire organization, are either broken, flawed, or worse – non-existent. Banks have to connect the dots if they want to provide the best experiences, and to do that, they need to look not only at each element, but also how each element relates to each other.

Knowing and using the right tool for the right job is great, but this kind of siloed outlook can cause problems. Take for example digital banking/application processes in general – most banks look at the journey from the client interface, as well as their staff interface, but often not much thought is given to how these areas interact. Both customers and personnel alike need fast and simple applications and it’s possible the same system or solution could work for both. However, a bank might never know this if these departments never engage one another, if they never understand each journey and how they’re connected.

When it comes to branch versus digital, the disconnect can be even greater. These days, everyone seems to understand the need for digital adaption and the need to provide the best customer experiences, but often these are seen as almost separate entities. The term “service” has become kind of a code word for doing nice things in the branch and there are still about 43 percent of banks out there that don’t have a mobile or online application process available, so it’s clear there’s opportunity to improve. However, it’s not an “either/or” question. Banks can leverage digital as a convenience channel, while leveraging the human touch of the branch as the expertise and advisement, but make both efficient while supporting each other in the process.

With predictions suggesting 50 percent of adults worldwide will be using mobile devices for financial services by 2021, and the latest J.D. Power retail banking survey suggesting how bank customers seem to still prefer the branch over digital, it makes sense to not only pay attention to both branch and digital, but how these journeys can work together. Today, more than ever, customers have many choices when it comes to banking. Whether it’s mobile, digital or in-branch, it’s the customers who are driving these choices rather than the banks. However, it’s up to the banks to be ready with robust omni-channel capabilities to meet their needs (and expectations). These days, having the right technology and being able to provide good user experiences are both quickly becoming the standard so going forward, the question won’t be do you have these, but how are you different? Standing out will be key, and those banks that understand their journeys will be in the best position to move forward.