Now that banks and credit unions have been forced by COVID-19 to stop or severely limit servicing customers in branches, financial institutions can no longer turn a deaf ear to the “digital is king!” message pundits have been trumpeting since long before the pandemic.
When Cornerstone Advisors collected data from banks for its 2019 Cornerstone Performance Report, COVID-19 was an unknown. But even then, the number of median active mobile users reported by mid-size banks had increased nearly 40 percent over Cornerstone’s prior bank study in 2017.
Providing a top-notch digital customer experience is critical to an institution’s competitive future. But as with any new technology, only meticulous planning will ensure an institution’s success in the new digital landscape.
It is easy for a financial institution to get lured into taking a “big bang” approach to implementing a digital platform. This new solution will increase functional capabilities and provide a fresh online face to the organization, and the implementation team is understandably eager to get started. However, implementation is just one point in time in the digital journey, and an overly aggressive approach to the initial implementation can result in misaligned features and deployment of “not ready for prime time” functionality.
A carefully crafted approach aligns the digital landscape with the institution’s strategic vision and chosen solution. Done right, the effort will result in a solution that provides enhanced internal efficiency, improved workflow and a better client experience. These three strategic planning steps will plot banking leaders on a course for a best practice digital implementation:
After evaluating what is important to customers, the institution must assess the complexity and dependencies of incorporating “must haves” into the solution. An effective roadmap includes key features, segments the project into logical blocks that build upon one another, and defines an achievable Day 1 project scope.
A well-designed roadmap can help an institution:
The old adage that you get one chance to make a good first impression is especially applicable with a digital solution. With such a customer-facing platform, failure to provide a robust test strategy and plan can result in frustrated end users, limited go-forward adoption and customer attrition. Following these steps will help ensure end users don’t discover issues before the institution does:
Third-party integrations can serve to differentiate a financial institution’s digital offering. When properly implemented, they can open the user experience beyond the institution, keep the customer within the FI’s offering, and allow for wallet and phone placement. When improperly implemented, issues that arise will be viewed by end-users and vendors as the institution’s problem.
Knowledge is power in third-party integrations. Because vendors will default to “what they know,” a financial institution must fully understand the details behind each integration point to effectively steer the vendor relationship toward the desired end-user experience.
In the current environment, the need for speed, convenience and mobile access are driving customer interactions. As digital becomes customers’ preferred access channel, careful planning, scheduling and execution will enable a financial institution to deliver a solution that best meets both customer and organizational expectations.