Customer acquisition for the bank of the future

Customer acquisition for the bank of the future

When it comes to digital culture shocks, they don’t come much greater than that experienced by the gentleman pictured below in recent years. For what seems like an eternity, the traditional banker has had the run of a financial sector dominated by a handful of big players who thrived on restrictive barriers for anyone else wanting a seat at the table. While some smaller banks and credit unions managed to grab a foothold on the ladder, many came and went as customers continued to flock to the financial security offered by the multibillion-dollar monoliths known as ‘the big banks’.

the big banksSource:

Well, times have changed for our friend in the top hat. While traditional banks continue to dominate the market, an increasing number of consumers are embracing digital or neobanks and other fintech companies for both basic banking activities in addition to other value-add services. This is particularly common among digitally savvy younger generations, who may never set foot in a physical bank branch given their preference for real-time, 24/7 solutions over traditional, fully fledged banking products. With one study finding 46% of people exclusively use digital channels for their financial needs, it is little wonder fintech is among the fastest growing industries in the world.

The pressure for traditional banks to respond to such change is immense. PWC has reported that 88% of incumbent financial institutions believe part of their business will be lost to standalone fintech companies in the next five years. Agility is the key and fintech companies hold the upper hand on that front. Given their monolithic legacy systems and a reputation for slower innovation, 81% of banking CEOs are understandably concerned about the speed of technological change.

The modern financial environment is one where traditional banks battle for market share with unknown digital or neobanks and fintech brands that can register a few million downloads before incumbents even work out how they did it. It is a world of open banking and marketplace banking, where online-only banks can successfully compete for customers with those built on decades of tradition.

And that is why it should come as no surprise that a 2020 global survey found 75% of banks are investing in developing a more customer-focused business model to give them the opportunity to act on their clients’ needs in real-time.

Current trends in banking world

Global professional services network Deloitte summed it up best when they wrote: “The bank of the future will not succeed without a smart, cost-effective (customer) acquisition strategy, whilst also delivering trust and awareness.”

A key component of this transition for legacy banks is developing and leveraging digital platforms as a new go-to-market strategy, which will help ensure they are not tied to the constraints of a traditional operating model that relies on a physical network of branches. While the big banks could previously afford to hold off on updating their long-proven systems, their siloed structure is not suited for the digital age.

Change is clearly afoot though, with 77% of incumbent financial institutions declaring they will increase their focus on internal innovations in the next three to five years to boost customer retention. Many traditional banks are pursuing an array of digitization and innovation initiatives to ensure a customer-centric perspective rather than their traditional emphasis on product. By embracing cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality, blockchain, robotic process automation(RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), they are giving themselves every chance to keep pace with their more agile online-only competitors.

As traditional institutions, newcomers and fintech companies strive to become ‘banks of the future’, they should consider leveraging current trends including:

  • Customer experience

    The days of someone opening an account with one bank and staying with them for life are over. It has never been easier to switch financial institutions and that is why customer experience is as important as the products, prices and rewards programs they offer. This is reinforced by a study that found 69% of customers who planned to leave their bank said it was due to poor service rather than poor products. Little wonder banking experts are tipping a greater focus on customer experience as the decade unfolds.
  • Personalization

    In banking circles, personalized services refers to the ability of a financial services provider to identify where customers are in their journey and present them with the most relevant financial products whatever stage they are at. The rise of technology such as machine learning, location-based services and big data will increasingly enable banks to anticipate customer needs and match them with major life events to provide a seamless experience.
  • Voice-based technology

    With a growing number of customers keen to avoid visiting physical branches, voice recognition is a secure form of biometric authentication that allows them to remotely – and safely – conduct banking transactions. From checking account balances and transaction histories to placing new requests and interacting with digital banking assistants, banks can leverage such technology to further meet customers’ wants and needs.
  • Choice of products

    It is no longer enough for banks to rely on single-line customers as a primary profit source. Offering an array of products will help stimulate more multi-line business customers, with digitally engaged consumers more likely to hold multiple products and create greater growth prospects. For this reason, smart financial institutions are focusing on combining more product choices with personalized digital relationships.

Customer acquisition tips for the new world of banking

The modern banking customer journey does not begin and end at a branch location, with the most successful customer acquisition strategies based on multiple touchpoints, diversification and personalized methods of engagement. To bolster bank customer acquisition, consider these cost-effective tips.

  • Leveraging social media

    Like most sectors, today’s consumers typically head online in search of their banking solutions. A quality social media presence not only simplifies access for potential customers but makes it easy for those already onboard to encourage referrals. Importantly, it can also help financial brands respond to customer questions and gain insights into users that assist with advertising, marketing and customer experience.
  • Prioritizing reviews management

    Research has shown customer reviews are five times more influential than TV advertisements and six times more than social media ads. Given that, financial institutions need to embed online review management into their customer acquisition strategy. This includes responding appropriately to both positive and negative reviews, amplifying reviews to improve search visibility and analyzing data to extract insights.
  • Embracing omnichannel

    The banking sector is prime ground for a truly omnichannel customer strategy. Customers increasingly want to engage with businesses when and how they want so an institution should facilitate an environment where they can switch between channels during their journey. It’s all about providing a more seamless experience to drive customer acquisition and that can only be achieved by an appropriate commitment to setting channel priorities and investing in infrastructure.
  • Embedding a service culture

    While most customers consider banking interactions to be transactional, significant benefits await those institutions that build a customer service culture. Research has found that 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for great customer service and banks that stay connected with them post-transaction, offer VIP programs and even acknowledge them by name can go a long way to fostering loyalty and trust and, in turn, improving customer acquisition and retention.

It has never been more important for the banking and financial sector to create and roll out plans that facilitate seamless experiences for their customers. Learn how to achieve such success in the omnichannel space.