Creating a digital path to a compelling CX

How can banks and credit unions best deploy technology to meet customer wants and needs?

Banking customers want the speed, convenience and ease of use that come with technology. They also want to feel valued via a customized experience, with human bankers ready to step in when the machines reach their limits.

So how do banks and credit unions find that optimal blend of the efficient and the empathetic?

BAI recently spoke with Chris Stanley, a former banker and now senior director at Moody’s Analytics, about modernizing the customer experience in ways that put both technology and people to work doing what they do best.

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How do you think about digital customer experience, and what does a successful implementation of digital-driven CX look like?

Chris Stanley: The pandemic accelerated the digitalization of our lives. Consumers are now technologically savvy, empowered by access to information and accustomed to disruptive innovation in how they access and interact with goods and services. In this new era of competition, savvy bankers will integrate insights to anticipate customer needs, focus expertise where it adds value, and strategically invest to make the right offers to the right customers at the right time.

Based on your experience, when digital CX efforts fall short or lose their way, what are the most common reasons?

A lot of times we get impressed with technical features and overly focused on what technology does instead of the potential that it enables. This is a recipe for automating the status quo. Instead we should be reimagining the process and customer experience to get the most from technology. The other thing I’ve seen limit CX results is a focus on a Big Bang transition— “we’re going to replace the whole system.” Increasingly, banks are emphasizing a much more iterative approach. Look for quick wins that rapidly deliver features and benefits to your customers quickly. These incremental enhancements and manageable goals are less risky and maintain flexibility to adapt your strategy in a rapidly changing environment.

Aside from speed, how else do you see technology advances improving the customer experience?

There are a lot of things in banking that are done behind the scenes but that are still critical to our ability to serve customers. One common example is a periodic loan review. This used to be entirely a manual process, with a lot of back and forth with the customer to gather information. When the pandemic hit, a lot of bankers were back at square one, trying to figure out which customer to call first. Looking at that process, there are a lot of opportunities where automation, integrated insight and empirical tools can create an early warning system. Instead of a limited look at every loan, direct expertise to the ones that are presenting problems or opportunities. We’re still watching the entire portfolio but targeting expertise with technology.

Where do you see the balance in gaining efficiency from technology and maximizing opportunities for personal connection to deepen the customer relationship?

As a banker, I was always sensitive to anybody coming in trying to sell me technology who said, “This can cut your head count.” I had plenty of tasks that required people, so I always wanted to guard those expert resources. When I envision the potential that technology brings to a process, I think about two things to balance humans and technology. The first one is thinking about the steps in a process that are what I would call “happy path”—everything works perfectly. But we also have the “rainy day paths”—situations my models are flagging as being at the limits of my risk appetite, or events where customers need help. These are key opportunities to differentiate CX. Use technology to automate the happy paths and redirect expertise where it adds value to customers navigating rainy day paths.

At the rate technology is changing, how do bankers make sure that they’re future-proofing so they don’t have to go through this process all over again in a few years?

I wish I could say there was a finish line, but we’re always innovating or iterating on something. Every time I introduce a new feature or an update, I revisit my gap analysis and reset my priorities for next steps and future investment. Remember: what you know changes what you do to get the right offers to the right customers at the right time. Look for quick wins—they keep momentum and strategic flexibility in your transformation journey at much lower risk than outdated big bang projects. Look for modular, best-in-class solutions that fill priority gaps you’ve identified and think carefully about the potential they enable throughout the customer lifecycle.

Learn from industry leaders and understand best practices with the insights shared in the BAI Executive Report, “The changing intersection of banking and technology.”

Terry Badger, CFA, is the managing editor at BAI.