Understanding What Customers Really Want from Your Retail Bank

published Jan 13, 2022
2 min read

The financial sector is experiencing a period of rapid and unrelenting change, and it has become abundantly clear in the last few years that traditional banks need to adapt or face inevitable decline. Increasingly uncertain geopolitical and economic conditions, swiftly evolving regulations and compliance requirements, and increased competition from both new and existing financial services providers are just some challenges banks struggle to weather from month to month. Even banks that have foreseen and planned for such fundamental changes are hard-pressed to adapt quickly enough to this new business landscape.

The ability to satisfy shifting consumer needs is crucial for any bank to survive in this changing world. In particular, digital banking transformation can help banks become as adaptive as they need to be to retain customer loyalty and stay ahead of their competition. This push toward more innovative, future-oriented retail banking necessarily begins with understanding the desires and expectations of the modern customer, some salient examples of which include the following:

Simple and Streamlined Digital Service

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the use and development of digital financial services all over the world, and research suggests that increasing digitization is no short-lived, circumstantial trend. Most consumers now willingly eschew in-person banking in favor of online and mobile platforms. The number of users making use of third-party digital payment platforms, e-wallets, and other similar technologies for day-to-day transactions is likewise at an all-time high.

Customers today tend to want their banks to diversify their digital offerings beyond online payments, transfers, and deposits, all of which have now become standard. These desired services include complex operations such as opening and managing accounts, making investments, and applying for loans, among others. Furthermore, banks must deliver their digital services in the simplest and most user-friendly possible fashion to promote self-service, limit the need for human contact, and maximize convenience.

Personalized Advice and Customer Support

Many customers today, particularly those aged 30 and below, live with significant amounts of financial anxiety brought about by economic crises. These younger customers tend to have a strong interest in learning about savings and money management and are especially receptive to personalized advice from qualified professionals. Surveys also show that the desire for personal financial guidance extends beyond choosing the right banking provider to encompass lending and investments as well.

In conjunction with advisory services, younger clients report that they would benefit most from access to customized tools, content, and calculators through their banks. These applications can help them maximize their savings, reach their financial goals, and understand spending trends in order to make the most of future income. It has been advantageous for many banks, for instance, to offer a variety of tracking features and sub-accounts to help clients compartmentalize their savings toward defined financial goals such as purchasing their first home or car.

Superior Business Agility

Speed and ease of use are among the most important determinants of a positive customer experience with modern financial services, and maximizing these attributes requires a highly agile business. Customers today are eager to support financial institutions that demonstrate the ability to onboard clients, launch and administer a diverse range of products, and roll out attractive offers quickly and easily. Additionally, the more customizable these products are—for the needs of a specific market, subgroup of customers, or even an individual client—the better.

Using intelligence tools to automate key parts of the onboarding process can boost client acquisition rates and boost user satisfaction on the whole. Reducing the amount of time and resources spent on onboarding and other day-to-day processes will in turn allow teams to focus on developing more innovative products. To support this effort, software solutions that can help bank personnel build, customize, and market these new offerings more quickly and easily are essential.

Good Brand Reputation

Because the modern customer base by and large tends to be especially cautious and discerning when it comes to their finances, brand affinity has also come to matter more in financial services than ever before. Recent surveys show that “trust” is the primary priority for customers by a large margin when it comes to finding a long-term financial partner, with “competitive rates” coming in as a distant runner-up. Banks are well-positioned to exploit their competitive advantage in this area, given the sensitivity of personal finances and the involved, often intimate nature of the bank-client relationship.

Though most customers nowadays are likely to experiment with numerous third-party payment providers, current research also asserts that they still strongly favor well-established traditional banks for weightier financial matters, such as protecting and building savings. Hence, it’s important for banks to take advantage of digital transformation initiatives that enhance their reliability, security, and operational efficiency, the better to safeguard their clients’ information and financial well-being.

To ensure not only their survival but also their success in the contemporary economy, banks need to establish themselves as an essential part of their customers’ businesses and lives. Maintaining this relevance is contingent upon developing the intelligence, flexibility, and adaptability required to keep up with client needs, which are likewise ever-changing. Above all else, the ability to evolve with the times will likely be a major benchmark for differentiating financial service providers in the current century.