Macroeconomic volatility, supply chain disruption & inflation... 2023 is a difficult year to navigate for the banking & finance sector.
There is a pressing need to redefine monetary services:
The post-pandemic economic reality is bringing on an imminent change to the financial sector. Driven by an environment of political, social and economic uncertainty and mistrust towards established institutions is necessary to revisit all financial services.
“Trust in financial services has increased since 2021, however people do not fully trust the sector. Additionally, the pandemic has accelerated the trust decline for financial services sector.”
Edelman Trust Barometer - Trust in Financial Services, 2022
Build trust by Anticipating Needs
People's needs are fluid whereas financial services traditionally tend to have a rigid approach leading to a chasm between customer expectations and what is on offer.
“A customer’s definition of what support from their retail bank looks like is changing rapidly as we enter a new economic cycle and move further along the digital adoption curve. It’s no longer predominately about being fast, efficient or convenient. The preeminent performance metric with the biggest influence on customer satisfaction is ‘supporting customer during challenging times,’ and that means customers are expecting a personalised mix of financial advice, hands-on help with problem resolution and guidance on how to grow their money.”
Jennifer White, J. D. Power 2022
Consumers are looking for financial solutions to meet them wherever they may be...
To meet them within the fluidity of their lifecycle.
Fluidity is a state of dynamic, organic change combined with a sense of continuity: A flow from original sources into new movements or directions; from past to present and future, as well as a merging or diverging of streams - whether experiences, ideas or phenomena.
It’s a term that has gained momentum as an expression of ‘non-traditional’ gender identities, but as a concept represents so much more,the general and widespread dissolution of boundaries.
Understanding the fluid movement of customer expectations.
It’s always uncertain to peer into the future, but one certainty is very little will be static; and most aspects of life will beFLUID. So, in some ways it’s counterintuitive that our deep need for patterned apparent order has dominated most of our lives. Now we live in times where dramatic changes in socio-economic, environmental, attitudinal and technological parameters are empowering a new boldness in challenging ‘accepted’ structures wherever they are found: a new fluidity of business models, flexibility in the way spaces are used and a general acceptance of change.
“Some mindsets are fluid. People move between them… Other mindsets are more static, such as how we think about managing our money or health. But in times like these, with life forces pushing us in multiple directions simultaneously, even these mindsets become more fluid.”
Agneta Björnsjö, Accenture 2022
Navigating through rough waters
Fluid movement between one realm to another, allows the movement of power, knowledge, time and resources. It is the key to flexibility and exploration. Brands are using their tools to create flow in the form of agile working models for their internal operations but also as a means to explore new avenues to support their purpose and generate new business, as a playground for new offerings.
“As inflation and cost-of-living pressures push more customers to seek financial wellness advice in 2023, banks will play a critical role… Firms that personalise customer journeys to focus on monetary wellbeing will cultivate meaningful engagements.”
Traditional banking, where customers can visit to access financial services and interact with staff members in person, preferences vary in different cultures. In Europe close to 29% of banked people are customers of both a traditional bank and an online bank, and 5% of them are exclusively customers of an online bank (Sopra Banking Software 2022) while nearly 77 percent of those surveyed in Saudi Arabia and 61 per cent in the UAE – the Arab world’s biggest economies – said they choose to do their banking online in some form (Entrust, 2022). However, when it comes to making important decisions traditional banking is the way to go.
“An in-person meeting remains the preferred option when opening new products— 27% of consumers said it was their first choice, ahead of mobile apps (22%) and websites (21%).”
A TRADITIONAL BANK WITH CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AT ITS HEART
The new concept is intended to be an innovative branch that is supported by digital channels and enables the customers with the lowest level of digital literacy to familiarise themselves with these channels during their visits.
Laying at the heart of all modern financial services, digital banking capabilities require learning more about the client through careful evaluation of data and allowing service offerings to be present in areas that exceed financial services. A strong digital presence is as, sometimes more, important as a physical presence - it is the panacea for the limitations brought on by pure traditional banking methods, it allows power and movement to shift from the institute to the customer building trust.
“The future is digital, and banking is no exception to that.So, if the advent of banking as a service, open banking, and the booming fin-tech sector were not proof enough, we now have a roaring statistic of expected 3.6 billion digital banking users by 2024, that puts a number to the future of banking.”
The Economic Times, 2022
AN “INTERACTIONAL EXPERIENCE” RATHER THAN A TRANSACTIONAL SPACE
Union Bank, Philippines
Integrating technologies like touch screens, video walls and augmented reality, the branch provides interesting features to its visitors. Among the many features you’ll find inside is a “virtual reality showroom,” where potential car buyers can experience premium cars using VR.
When browsing this website, it’s clear that the brand is targeting young visitors. The user may initially be confused by the elements that move across the website and in multiple directions. When scrolling down the website, you don’t just move downwards all the time - the design also redirects you sideways at some levels, which has a really interesting effect.The use of these techniques allows the company to build a modern image.
“Gen Z is no stranger to financial apps, despite this they are still learning what it means to be a banking customer.”
The Financial Brand, 2023
Repurposed banking services
Banks should reconsider using their branches as a hub for building enduring relationships with their clients. Customers are willing to pay for individualised guidance and banks might begin to view their branches asa means of providing their clients with the advice and individualised direction they yearn for. They must design their branches with the aim to step away from the heavily corporate world of their operational headquarters to individualised, high-quality and digitally supported experiences.
“In 2023 banks will begin the move from thinking about customers’ journeys to their intents. We call this life centricity, and it will better equip banks to understand the different forces shaping customers’ lives and to deliver the most relevant solutions for their individual contexts. Banks that embrace this approach will be strongly positioned to thrive along side their customers.”
Turning the traditional in-branch experience into an innovative and inspiring journey. The space allows freelancers and entrepreneurs a hub to work from and acts as an event space aimed to bring people together.
To Sum Up:
Experiences built around an understanding of fluidity are not a choice of one service or product to another but a flow between all. Keeping digital at the core, financial brands need to elevate their services and be present in the customer lifecycle where they are needed most. Resulting intrust established and trust enhanced through deepened connections.