From Transactions to Engagement
Ask any banker for his or her strategic intent for investing in digital (mobile and online) channels, and you’d get a fairly uniform response. The bulk of digital-banking activity has been around facilitating a growing variety of convenient, low-friction transactions. Investments have been aimed squarely at making the experience faster and more convenient. Ask any other retail enterprise on the planet the same question, and you’d likely get a very different response. Virtually every other nonbank retailer invests in digital channels to improve sales and service. Facilitating low-friction transactions has been table stakes for years. Today, retailers are all about improving customer engagement—digitally and in-store. It is time for banks to do likewise. The bar has been raised.
As everyone knows, consumers throughout the world—particularly young adults—have been increasingly using digital mechanisms to interact with friends and family. The chart below reflects a 2018 Celent survey of banked adults in the United States. While video utilization has been comparatively slow to take off, the majority of US adults use chat/text, social media and e-mail to engage personally. More millennials use text than voice calls!
But these same consumers have a very different disposition when asked how they would like to interact with their primary financial institution if they had a matter they would like to discuss. Celent asked that question in the same survey, separately for quick questions versus lengthier matters. We found remarkably few consumers preferred the digital mechanisms they use routinely for personal engagement. Instead, for quick questions, most preferred to simply call the bank’s contact center. For lengthier topics, more than three-quarters of all US banked adults preferred to visit a branch. Why the disconnect?