Having the right team to commit to the institution’s goals and support clients is important to retain clients and attract new borrowers, but it’s technology that is taking a customer-centered banking experience to the next level. Once only accessible to large financial institutions and digital-only banks, today’s technology affords smaller financial institutions the opportunity to level the playing field by automating the lending process to get money in customers’ hands sooner.
While some customers would love to have a fully digitized banking experience, others prefer banking at a physical branch. Technology, like banking, isn’t “one-size-fits-all.”
In order to have a customer-focused financial institution, you have to consider the needs of the variety of customers that bank with your institution. This often means finding a balance between traditional services and digital innovation. You can’t ignore an entire group, said Jill Hudson, Vice President of Loan Operations at Vision Bank, another panelist at the ThinkBIG conference. More than likely, your bank has a mix of borrowers: some might prefer to do everything online, while another share of customers prefers traditional banking.
Vision Bank in Ada, Oklahoma, for example, is located in small towns with regional universities, so it banks a large college base, but the agricultural community also makes up a large portion of its client base. Needless to say, the two demographics – and everything in between – have vastly different needs, preferences, and expectations from the bank.
While millennials have been quicker to adapt and embrace new technology, Vision Bank has had a more difficult time getting the same enthusiasm about online banking tools from its farming clients. “It’s important to have this technology available, but you also have to have the one-on-one, face-to-face interactions,” Hudson said. In other words, building out strategies to balance the two preferences is key.
“Whether your customer likes digitization and submitting their tax returns electronically or your customer wants to walk into a branch to hand in their pieces of paper, ease of use on either side is important,” McBay said. “Go the extra mile.”
For some clients, it may just be difficult to deal with change. “The big thing anyone asks when there’s a big change is, ‘What’s in it for me?’” said Hudson. She recommends walking customers through the benefits of the technology and the time-savings and efficiency gains that they’ll get back. Some customers worry that technology takes away from the relationship they have with the bank, but Hudson believes that technology helps add to the customer experience as a whole; they just have to see it for themselves. It’s all about education, both for clients and employees.
Digitization isn’t going anywhere. There are many benefits to leveraging technology, from a time- and cost-savings standpoint, but most importantly, technology can strengthen customer relationships. While some will resist the changes, keep in mind that there are ways to satisfy both sides of the aisle while becoming significantly more efficient. It’s all about making a better banking experience.