This much we all know: The financial services landscape is sprinting towards digitization. Yet cutting through the broad brush to the sharp strokes can feel overwhelming. Among other forces, strict regulations, changing consumer expectations and pressure from tech-based competitors are driving financial institutions to reassess and react. What’s more, these forces overlap.
According to PwC’s 2017 Digital Banking Consumer Survey, nearly half of bank consumers prefer to interact via digital channels and skip the physical branch altogether. This represents a huge jump from only 27 percent in 2012. BAI Banking Outlook findings back this up. When asked whether they would switch banks simply for a better banking app, more than half of millennials (51 percent) said yes, while 40 percent of GenXers indicated they would as well.
And as more consumers bank exclusively online, the forms on a bank’s website often amount to the first and only medium of customer communication. Therefore, it’s critical that banks invest in their forms’ user interface to deliver the right message to their consumers. Something as simple as an onboarding form can influence a consumer’s decision to stay with a bank or move to a more digital-friendly competitor.
Moreover, the new and emerging online-only banking options will further intensify competition and push traditional financial institutions to enhance their digital presence.
For example, the Berlin-based mobile bank N26 (originally known as Number 26) recently announced plans to enter the U.S. market, representing the first non-EU market for the challenger bank. As pioneering efforts go, it will not be the last. N26 numbers among the many fully mobile banks to enter the mainstream financial services industry.
While lacking brick-and-mortar branches, this new banking breed offers consumers a seamless digital account opening process. To deliver the best possible user experience, these institutions ensure that every step is quick, easy and intuitive. Their web forms strive to use the fewest number of phone screen taps or mouse clicks. As these forms make up the sole interaction point for consumers, they leverage every advantageous capability digital forms have to offer.
Traditional financial institutions need to take this same approach—yet remember that web forms are not a digital version of paper forms. They should not only give their customers the best online experience possible but streamline back-of-house processes as well.
For example, banks can utilize pre-filled customer information from their back-end customer relationship management (CRM) system. This will save consumers time and help establish a meaningful tie with their bank. With this convenience, consumers feel as though banks know and remember them—especially if they don’t have to enter the same data over and over.
Financial services organizations can also harness conditional logic to create superior user experiences that customize the flow of their form and the questions users see, based on answers to other questions. So if a customer answers “no” to a question such as “Are you married?” the form should automatically skip the rest of the section. As consumers continue to move towards mobile, it’s paramount to build mobile-friendly forms that offer customers the same level of service across all channels.
Properly configured, digital forms can also help banks upsell and recommend products. Consumers want and expect this based on their online shopping experiences in other industries. In 2015 about half of U.S. bank customers said that they wanted their financial institutions to offer customized products and improve their rewards/loyalty programs.
There is a huge opportunity for CRM integration to provide consumers with the “if you liked that, you may also like this” experience they enjoy in ecommerce. Banks can employ digital forms to capture, track and respond to these desires.
Besides enhancing the front-end consumer experience, digital forms can also improve overall productivity within a banking organization. As consumers complete forms online, banks save significant time and resources used to transcribe information from paper forms to the bank’s back-end systems, or to collect this data in person at a local branch. Such forms can also reduce manual errors and thus improve internal processes.
Web form automation systems also play a big role in improving the security and privacy of customers’ sensitive information. While building web forms, admins can easily mark certain form fields with sensitive customer information and carefully define how that information is handled.
What’s more, a web form automation system allows admins to carefully monitor all forms and templates used to collect tax documents, open mortgage applications and administer broker or client change request forms. With the ability to add, delete or change users at any time, banks gain flexibility and oversight when it comes to important settings and permissions.
If digital transformation remains critical for financial services organizations to compete and meet their customers’ demands, the bar will only rise as time and technology advance. A flexible, customizable, secure and compliant suite of web forms marks a strong first step—and indeed has a valuable roll to fill.
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Cedric Savarese is the founder and CEO at FormAssembly.
If you enjoyed, this article, check out our recent Executive Report: Raising the customer experience bar