As a financial blogger, I am often excited when media companies and financial planners come together to talk about the same thing: Money. Aside from the networking, lectures, and deals, attending conferences comes with another benefit; swag.
A few days ago, after a conference, I gave my two-year-old nephew a piggy bank. As I watched him drop money into his new bank, I thought about how much the banking experience has changed with the advent of the digital era. Traditionally, financial institutions used banknotes. In the modern age, the financial services industry has evolved as a result of the innovative ways they manage the customer experience.
As I reflected on this shift in customer interaction, I realized I’m considered a “channel surfer.” I jump from one digital tool to another when interacting with my bank. I do my banking from various locations, on the go. I use the Internet, my mobile phone, or my tablet to transfer money or check my balance.
Branching into Mobile
Today, top financial institutions have an omni-channel presence. 74% of financial consumers access services via the Internet, while mobile and tablet banking accounts for 30%, and social media by 13%. We are relying on multiple channels when banking or seeking support. Out of the average 17 customer-led interactions per month with their main bank, seven are through on-line banking. The Internet has become the dominant channel for client interaction.
There’s no doubt that financial institutions and investment houses have shifted towards mobile banking. Mobile apps have become a fundamental tool for managing everyday finances. This cultural shift has even eclipsed desktop and local branch visits; studies show that without visiting a local branch, we are viewing statements, paying bills, depositing checks and making transfers to any bank account on-the-go.
A Forrester study also found that while mobile banking (in Europe) will grow quickly—from 42 million users in 2013 to 99 million in 2018—tablet banking will grow twice as fast—from 19 million users in 2013 to 115 million in 2018.
Making Banking Social
Banks aren’t just jumping on the mobile/tablet trend, they’re also innovating with social media. Social media has become another innovative way banks interact with clients. As their primary source of bank communication within five years.
One European first full-service online bank allows customers to carry out everyday activities, such as viewing account balances and recent transactions, accessing customer service and bank promotions, etc. on a single Facebook page.
Offering banking service within the social media ecosystem (where clients spend significant amounts of their time) works well because there is no need to ask them to move to another site. It’s already available where they are in that moment.
Financial institutions are realizing that providing a more personalized service adopts to our needs and behaviors, and it also increases their capacity to promote and support their business.
Virtual Reality in the Financial Industry
With the rise of AI, Virtual Reality (VR) is becoming widespread for financial institutions. It is no longer a unique strategic decision to use virtual reality for services outside of video games. Now, top performing financial institutions are shifting towards this emerging tool. Bankers can offer advice and show simulations through modified, real-time graphics. They can engage with clients through VR instead of a phone conversation or even a video call. Avatars are now life-sized and three-dimensional displays controlled by a single person.
So, What’s to Come?
Financial institutions and investment houses that are going digital understand that they must rapidly (and repeatedly) drive value. Leveraging innovative technology helps banks create a delightful digital customer experience that caters to the preferences and needs of modern consumers. Not long ago, I introduced my nephew to the piggy bank. How will financial institutions interact with him 15-20 years down the line? The sky is the limit.