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5 Ways Banks Can Provide The Human Touch for Customers

As banking becomes more digitized, customers still crave a human connection. Here's how to ensure a rewarding customer experience.

4. Make It Real Time

Many banks understand the importance of gaining a 360-degree view of the relationships with their customers, says Luc Burgelman, CEO of NGDATA, a provider of data and consumer intelligence offerings in Ghent, Belgium. But the next step -- or battleground -- in customer experience will be using data to perform actions and services for customers in real time, he predicts.

Customers expect more convenience and faster service based on their experiences in a fast-paced mobile world. This means banks must be able to not only personalize their services and tailor them to the customer but also learn to deliver them instantly at the right moment, Burgelman says. This also means banks will have to be able to identify potentially fraudulent payments right away, he says, as customers won't be satisfied if it takes two or three days for their banks to alert them to possible fraud in their accounts.

NGDATA works with financial institutions to help them use customer data to deliver personalized coupons to customers in their checking accounts and digital wallets. Banks and digital wallet providers seeking customer loyalty and retention will need to deliver relevant offers in real time to customers via their mobile devices as they enter a retail outlet, Burgelman says.

"When people buy something, the decision is always based on the right offer at the right time and location," he says. "It will be about being interactive and being there in real time. … Banks have to take the data that they have right now and make it actionable in real time."

5. Consider Nontraditional Banking Services

Technology advances from companies such as Amazon, Apple and Google are driving customer expectations in digital services, says Michael McEvoy, managing director of ath Power Consulting, a Boston-based financial services consulting firm that specializes in customer experience. As those companies continue to set the bar higher in terms of speed, convenience and simplicity of products and services, banks have to adapt and play catch-up. That trend bodes ill for banks as these hot technology companies start offering services that banks traditionally have dominated, McEvoy says. But he says that technology also is making it easier for banks to offer nontraditional banking services, as well.

Barclaysis an example of a financial institution that's starting to move into these new areas, McEvoy says. One of the technology firms that he previously worked with helped London-based Barclays in developing its MyBusinessWorks service for small-business customers. Through the service, small businesses can get Web hosting, accounting software, data backup and legal services on a fee basis. Ath Power Consulting's research has found that many of these services are in high demand at small businesses, McEvoy says, and providing them lets banks serve difficult and expensive populations like microbusinesses -- a group that often can be loss makers for banks.

[Where is the ROI on Customer Experience in the Banking Industry?]

There could be many ways to offer nontraditional banking services to consumers as well, he says. "Banks could provide an easy, inexpensive way for younger consumers to buy media through their mobile device. There's nothing stopping them [banks] from doing something like this," McEvoy says. "It will help pull financial institutions into the 21st century … and give customers a reason to connect with the bank."

Keeping Up With Customers' Changing Expectations

Going beyond traditional financial services isn't always comfortable for banks, but it will be critical, along with these other steps, as banks respond to their customers' changing expectations of just what great service entails.

Make it competitive. Post a scoreboard online so that gamers can compete with each other and show off their high scores.

Leverage social media. Gaming is already part of customers' social media lives, as gaming applications proliferate on Facebook. Post updates to the scoreboard on Facebook and Twitter and encourage players to engage with each other on those channels. You can also explore offering gaming applications on Facebook.

Go beyond self-promotion. Games must have a point beyond just promoting the bank. For instance, you could make a contribution to a charity chosen by the customer with the highest score. Alternatively, the game could be geared to provide financial education for customers.

Incentivize. Provide a reason for customers to want to play games. You could offer prizes to those with the highest scores, or players could be entered into a raffle to win prizes.

Go mobile. Gaming is becoming a bigger part of customers' mobile experience, with 55% of gamers now playing on their mobile devices. If you're looking to attract mobile customers, you'd be wise to incorporate gaming as part of their mobile banking experience.

Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio

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Melanie Rodier
Melanie Rodier,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/21/2012 | 3:39:14 PM
re: 5 Ways Banks Can Provide The Human Touch for Customers
Interesting points about gaming and making the banking experience more fun. Seems like there's lots of potential there, as long as they keep away from self-promotion, as you say!
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