Post-COVID, bankers are focused toward providing a frictionless and personalized customer experience. While this focus is crucial to deepening customer trust and loyalty, bankers also need to focus their attention on streamlining their own internal processes and experiences. By strengthening the bank’s processes, bankers can eliminate outdated procedures and focus on improving internal efficiency and the customer experience.
Where to Begin
Legacy technologies and processes commonly present barriers for building better banker and customer experiences. Today’s customer is looking for an ease of use and clarity that legacy solutions and processes are not always able to offer. For example, American National Bank and Trust Company saw the need to adopt new processes to present the data in its mandated customer communications. Cheryl Clark, American National Bank and Trust Company’s Vice President, Information Services, noted, “We liked the idea of leveraging the data we needed to communicate with our customers in a more dynamic and customizable way to ensure they understood the full spectrum of the information without having to flip through pages and pages of text. While it is important that the presentation of these documents remains in full compliance with mandated regulations, we also wanted to add that extra little ‘pop’ to what we’re presenting our customers as a means to provide insight and education on their financial health as well as the products and services we provide as an institution.”
Like American National Bank and Trust Company, bankers must understand the value in revising their approach to communications to streamline vendor management internally and communicate more effectively with customers. The bank also had a vested interest in providing customers with well-designed communications in order to compete with large top-tier banks. The bank took the steps to ensure that digital statements look consistent with printed statements and completed a redesign to better communicate critical notifications to their customers.
Fostering a Better Experience for the Customer
The next key is to drive additional digital statement adoption. There are a few key methods bankers can use to ensure success. For example, banks can place the links to enroll on the forefront of both the website and in the mobile app to make it easier for customers to see. The process for digital enrollment should also be simple. Make it easy and clear which digital statements customers can sign up for and make sure confirmation emails and messages contain the links needed to manage statements online.
In the online environment, this can be accomplished in a few ways. Ensuring areas such as entitlement management, passwords, authorizations and verifications are centralized is a start. Customers are often unaware that numerous third-party vendors are involved in making their digital experience a reality. When users change or update their settings, they expect these changes to occur across their account in real-time. Any delay or latency results in an inconsistent experience for the member.
Chartway Federal Credit Union changed their internal statement process to include online support. Internally, they housed their documents in one complete document repository. Users receive access via online banking and staff can access via an internal interface, making their day-to-day operations more efficient.
Customers cite short archival retention periods as a reason for electing to continue to receive paper statements. Communications archival is one of the most beneficial — yet overlooked advantages — for digital communications. Customers may or may not refer to previous communications such as notices and statements regularly, but when they need them, they will appreciate the capability. Banks are not always able to pay for the server space needed to store these past communications, but if it is possible, it is a key area executives should consider.
First State Community Bank chose a platform that provides tools that allow for real time editing and proofing of statements and notices, along with the ability to optimize each document to serve as a cross-selling piece. This results in their staff saving time on back-office tasks and using their time to be with customers.
“Statements and notices have historically been a standardized document with limited uses,” said Nikki Masters, vice president of Retail/Digital Channel Manager at First State Community Bank. “We’ve been able to not only educate our customers on their account information but also use these required touch points as cross-selling and upselling tools by utilizing key data elements to deliver targeted messages on the bank statements and bank notices.”
As a result of their new approach to statements, American National is also experiencing internal improvements in efficiency and time savings. American National said their ability to eliminate previously manual processes was a key win for the institution as they’ve now been able to reallocate employees internally without sacrificing quality or precision with their statements and notices.
“Taking on a new strategy for digital statements has helped our organization to more directly focus on our continued growth strategy by taking the reins on providing crisp, clear, colorful statements to our customers, enabling our staff to address other internal priorities,” said Clark. “Now, we don’t have to worry about whether we can handle the level of growth we’re striving for because we have a partner that can grow right along with us and provide ample support along the way.”
American National has already put this notion into action, recently executing a successful bank acquisition without having to worry about increased volume in statements and notices needed to communicate with all new and existing customers. The bank was able to remain highly focused on the internal growth at hand because of the acquisition while also staying the course toward future acquisition opportunities down the line.
Technology conversions and implementations have a reputation of being long and painful. Often a transition to a new service or tool is considered as a last resort. This is not always the case. American National Bank and Trust Company is one example of how this process can be done in a supportive environment and able to provide the benefit of enhanced statements and notices without the hassle. Implementing new technology is necessary to promote meaningful and innovative change within the organization.
Griffin McGahey is president at HC3, aBirmingham, Alabama-based company that manages complex data to help financial institutions communicate with customers.For more information, please visit hc3.io.