Digital Culture: The Missing Piece in Digital Banking Strategies

Providing the personalized financial experiences consumers demand requires far more than digitizing piecemeal. Getting back-office, front-line and sales staff into a digital-first mindset will dramatically improve CX. Five steps lead to a successful transformation.

No one can argue that digital is the new normal. From social media to buying Valentine’s Day presents on Amazon, people don’t want any service that isn’t digitally capable. Financial institutions have recognized these trends and spent most of the last decade scrambling to ensure they are transitioning toward digital servicing.

Yet, the digital transformation strategies are missing the forest for the trees. By narrowly watching the technology and solving technical challenges, the key piece of the puzzle is often being overlooked — namely, the digital culture.

You may roll your eyes. We all know what culture is. The word has been a part of the finance sector’s vernacular for many years now. BCG research defines it as the compilation of “the values and characteristic set of behaviors that define how things get done in an organization.” Banking providers know it as embracing a mindset that protects employee and company values.

What Is Digital Culture:

Digital culture involves getting the entire organization to focus on driving outstanding results with the help of technology. It goes beyond utilizing digital tools to accomplish day-to-day tasks by guiding employee behavior.

The outstanding problem is that many financial institutions are still trying to market to their consumers digitally with yesterday’s mindset. On paper, they can be described as “digital,” but there exists a complete lack of personal touch to their interactions.

What Consumers Expect

Digital culture facilitates the free flow of information by placing its target audiences at the forefront, making the technology a second priority. But, financial institutions across the industry are failing to provide their consumers with the personalized experience they crave, in large part due to the lack of digital culture in the organization.

People expect their banking providers to use the treasure troves of data they already have about them to provide personalized and tailored experiences. Having a self-service portal or communication strategy that fails to acknowledge that is what leads to spectacular failures across the spectrum in customer experience.

It is not enough to have a digital self-service portal alone. It is crucial that financial institutions also provide an outstanding digital experience, on par with the leaders in that area from other industries the Amazons and the Netflixes of the world.

Simply digitizing the old ways of doing things is also inadequate. Banks and credit unions must ditch the piecemeal nature of digital transformation initiatives, like systems that require data to be entered multiple times. People are getting frustrated with the results, which is often lost progress on applications and a complete lack of context for service reps.

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However, hope is not yet lost. Financial institutions still have plenty of time to integrate systems that meet people’s expectations.

For example, one of the defining features of organizations with a mature digital culture is the presence of clearly defined boundaries between back- and front-office functions, as well as between different communication channels.

Back-office employees are just as involved in improving customer experience as are the front-line workers. At the same time, sales agents are responsible not only for interactions with the consumers, but also for ensuring that the data they collect into the internal systems is error-free and accurate.

What You Can Do:

BCG recommends companies incentivize leaders who are demonstrating desired behaviors supporting a digital culture.

If your organization wants to integrate better digital strategies, the hallmarks of a financial services organization with a mature digital culture include:

Channel flexibility The ability to seamlessly switch between channels without losing context is crucial as target audiences increasingly interact with their banking provider through multiple devices and channels.

Simultaneously, the front- and back-end efforts seamlessly coordinate to ensure consistency of information that flows into the internal systems. This provides front-office employees the ability to track and access the entire history of consumer activity.

Service convenience Any channel is maintained on an ongoing basis from a centralized dashboard in order to ensure clear and up-to-date information. People have the ability to ask for quick and live support at any point in time, on any channel.

Purchase convenience The ability to conduct end-to-end transactions without interruptions or delays, as well as the ability to subscribe to new products and services through a self-service portal at any time.

Simplicity and ease of use Financial institutions with digital culture focus on ensuring an intuitive design of their systems, continuously working on simplifying the customer journey. Simplicity of navigation and streamlined experience are two goals those organizations constantly work toward.

Personalization The degree of personalization is closely related to the level of digital maturity in the organization. Context customization, as well as the recognition of each consumer as an individual, is what separates truly digital organizations from the rest.

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Digital culture is essential for a great digital experience

As mentioned, the set boundaries between front- and back-end office functions and different channels is one of the defining features of financial institutions with a mature digital culture.

A holistic digital customer experience journey involves the entire organization working together, focused on implementing a common strategy. This can only be achieved in banks and credit unions that have seamless integration between back- and front-office functions, where data flows freely to drive outstanding customer experience at every touchpoint.

Key Insight:

Nearly every four out of five companies focusing on culture sustained strong performance, resulting in breakthroughs and outstanding financial results, according to BCG.

By embracing digital culture, banks and credit unions alike can move closer to a frictionless, omnichannel customer experience that people demand. An organization that prioritizes digital culture is capable of crafting an end-to-end digital journey where a consumer can meet their needs or solve his problem effortlessly through any channel, without having to jump through hoops or overcome obstacles.

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