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Beyond the app: The path to digital conversion begins with personalized service

Jun 24, 2020 / Digital Banking

CEOs across the financial services industry are concerned with customer experience and are directing teams to implement innovative solutions to gain a competitive advantage. For service-based enterprises where customer needs and transaction criticality are high, customer service interactions constitute the most important moments in that overall experience and can make or break the relationship.

Retail banks, which have seen a branch visits drastically decline due to COVID-19, rely on digital channels to provide personalized education and support that was once delivered via face-to-face interactions. Banks are investing heavily in mobile banking technology, given that mobile users show greater loyalty and tend to consume more banking products.

What banks need, and have had trouble implementing, is a proactive way to connect with their customers and solve for individual experiences. Apps and portals can make checking an account balance or depositing a check easy, but they reflect a “come and get” model that requires customers to initiate the interaction.

This has left banks in a reactive state, struggling to engage with their customers at timely moments. Consumers now expect personalized communications, in which their questions are answered proactively and every experience is tailor-made for them in their moments of need.

More one-to-one communication

While the previous rule of thumb was to remain unobtrusive, digital customers want more communications. According to a 2017 Deloitte study, a lack of communication and advice was named as a top driver of lower satisfaction scores among digital-only customers.

Therein lies the answer to digital engagement: Banks can look across the customer journey to identify where value can be added in customers’ moments of need, and then build digital into those experiences.

Citizens Bank took this approach when they saw a drop-off in their student loan applications. The bank needed a more reliable way to engage customers at critical next steps in the application process because existing channels were losing effectiveness and the specific use case couldn’t be addressed with their app or portal.

Citizens implemented a solution that connected every applicant to a one-to-one mobile communication channel as soon as the application was submitted. It functioned like a private Twitter feed for each customer, and users received a stream of personalized messages that guided them to specific actions, such as approving rates or adding a co-signer.

The solution worked. Completed applications rose by 10 percent and users filled out the applications 40 percent faster. What’s more, close to 90 percent of all applications became digitally enabled.

Directing customers to the tools that are best suited to them at the time when they are most needed will create more moments for engagement and make interacting with the bank easier, encouraging them to do it more often.

Building trust and adding converts

The early days of mobile banking came with rapid growth, as digital-first consumers and early adopters caught on. Years later, most consumers who want to use the service are already doing so.

As we reach the saturation point, banks face the difficult challenge of converting users who are comfortable doing things a certain way. To get back to growth, banks must look to the many smartphone owners who have still never completed a transaction.

This calls for addressing the likeliest reasons why consumers have resisted adoption in the first place: fear and complexity. Converting these customers requires demonstrating how mobile interactions can be simple, useful and secure.

TD Bank is taking this consumer-driven approach to close the digital communication gap with its checking customers.

New customers who provide a mobile number at account opening receive a text invitation to a personalized message feed. The secure feeds — each tailored to customers’ unique needs — deliver a more welcoming and educational onboarding experience with easier access to self-service tools, such as links to mobile remote deposit capture or instructions for setting up direct deposit.

Starting with the first message, TD Bank makes education and consumer protection its top priority, delivering communication policies and fraud prevention tips when consumers are most engaged. The program enables the bank to digitally enable more customers, build trust and strengthen relationships through personalization.

Much of the conversation around digital transformation in financial services has focused on mobile banking and banking apps. Engagement moving forward is going to be all about the customer relationship, and the foundation for that is built on a service-based strategy rooted in personalization and accessibility.

In order to succeed in this new era, banks must invest in customer experience strategies that enable one-toone, hyper-relevant and proactive communications between bank and customer, giving all customers the personalized experience they demand and making it easy for them to get exactly what they need, whenever they need it.


Brie Tascione is the CMO and founding member of Relay Network, a personalized mobile engagement company based in Radnor, Pa.