Nikhil Lakhanpal
Nikhil Lakhanpal Sep 11, 2019

Online meets top of mind: The critical need for continuity in the digital banking experience

Consumers increasingly expect online interactions to be seamless, intuitive and immediate—and that applies regardless of whether they make a purchase, post on social media or manage their finances. Thus it makes sense that financial Institutions, as they strive to improve upon and expand their digital functionality, face many challenges when it comes to providing an integrated user experience across an array of siloed services.

This links directly to the lack of third-party software that considers the value of continuity from the user’s perspective. What happens as a result? Users find themselves mired in (and perhaps miffed by) the disconnect between how their banking services work versus the other, smoother elements of their online lives.

Banks need to shift their ultimate goal away from the status quo and towards creating a comprehensive experience from start to finish that includes these core areas of function and service:

  • account opening
  • mobile and online banking
  • digital and phone support
  • loan application and management
  • corporate website
  • employee-facing applications.

Granted, not every piece of a financial institution’s technology stack can be seamlessly integrated. That acknowledged, the relationship between account opening and mobile/online banking stands without question as the most critical component to continuity. Users do not think of these as separate experiences, but instead expect a seamless transition to a digital platform immediately after they open an account. Unfortunately, most financial institutions have not mastered this experience.

If banks can complete the four steps below, they will enter rarified territory: the one percent of financial institutions nationwide that effectively offer users a friction-free experience:

  • A user clicks on the “Open Account Now” tab or button on the financial institution’s consumer-facing website.
  • They input their personal information and funding details, which are then processed in less than three minutes.
  • The account opens on core banking system, funding is processed, user identification verified and recorded, and the customer identification program is satisfied.
  • The user automatically transitions to an online or mobile banking platform and can start using their account.

If a financial institution wants to elevate itself to the next level of service and security, and work on par with industry-leading fintechs, offering a consistent platform that bridges online account opening and digital banking can offer even more benefits:

  • An external account used to initially fund the new account can automatically link up in mobile and online banking.
  • Plaid, MX and other financial aggregators can return advanced data during the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network authentication, which can be used for future cross-sell opportunities.
  • A single fraud record that covers account opening, ACH fraud, address changes and more is generated—thus allowing financial institutions to make smarter decisions based a greater wealth of data.

Continuity is paramount when it comes to providing users with a valuable experience, specifically within the sphere of online account opening and digital banking. Delivering a continuous user experience impresses the user and encourages them to develop a deeper banking relationship with a financial institution. The tangible benefits include increased deposits, higher engagement and more opportunities for cross sell.

But another benefit emerges as well: a type of customer experience advantage that stems from seeing things through the eyes of a consumer, not a banker. While it’s true that many financial institutions care deeply about their clients, the gap between notion and action remains as wide as the gulf that separates online banking and online everything else. 

Imagine for a minute that you have just shopped and placed an order via ecommerce in less than 90 seconds. Now, compare this to some stuck aspect of your online banking experience—not as a bank employee, but in your life as a consumer.

If you ever thought you deserved better, consider yourself right. The customer, as they say, is always right. As a banker, now’s your chance to make things right.  

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A former member of Citigroup’s investment banking division, Nikhil Lakhanpal is the co-founder of Narmi, a fintech that assists financial institutions with digital account opening, mobile banking and online platforms.

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