Eliminate Those Pesky Digital Speed Bumps

Consumers today have no patience. They want instant gratification. This means simplifying everything. You must chop out steps and minimize the number of clicks to perform any task in digital channels.

Speed bumps have an important purpose on city streets — e.g., in parking lots, and to slow down motorists when children or disabled individuals are present. But speed bumps don’t belong in banking.

Consumers want their financial transactions to go through quickly, without a hitch. That’s why eliminating speed bumps is fast becoming the battle cry among marketers. Speed is the new currency; speed bumps are barriers to execution.

Technology fueled the digital revolution. From ATMs to mobile deposits and instant transfers to account origination, technology has not only changed the way we do business, but the expectations consumers have for their financial providers.

Eliminating speed bumps requires analyzing- and then cutting the steps to complete a process — chopping out steps, minimizing the number of clicks, reducing the number of menus and links required to find information and execute tasks.

Mobile technology has fed our addiction for instant gratification. Consumers today want faster transactions, streamlined applications and integrated systems. A decade ago, our attention span averaged about 12 seconds, but now it’s just down to around 8 seconds. Humans literally have a shorter attention span than goldfish. Indeed, 40% of visitors will abandon your website if it takes more than three seconds to load.

Fintech startups are building their IPO dreams on shaving down these speed bumps — squeezing the excess air out of delivery channels, nipping away at inefficiencies in the banking industry. These agile new entrants — many experienced in e-retailing — understand the consumer mindset, and are more responsive to their needs than traditional players.

The speed at which we conduct business has become a critical differentiator in the product selection process. Where once we judged products by quality and price, we’ve added a new, category-killing factor: speed. The first question we ask after purchasing an item has become, “How fast can we get it?” Amazon which revolutionized online retailing with two-day delivery, recently introducing Prime Now, a one-hour delivery service, and in twelve months or so, drones could be doing deliveries. Each advancement puts products in consumers’ hands faster. The winners in the digital economy will be those who can deliver the fastest.

Banking consumers don’t just want speed though, they want all the silly, arbitrary and artificial barriers removed. They don’t want to just log in to see their balance, they want instant thumbprint authentication. They don’t want to wait three days to transfer money, they want real-time delivery. No calls to the bank to put their debit card on vacation hold, they want to push a single button on their mobile phone. Instead of calling with a problem, they want instant chat.

The good news is that price often takes a back seat to speed. Millennials are often willing to pay 46% more for same-day service. Amazon doesn’t promise the lowest price; instead they brag about selection and delivery. The growth of Netflix stems, in part, from its convenient next-movie recommendation feature, not merely a “discount subscription.” Consumers are willing to pay for speedy service… especially when it’s personalized.

Speed is becoming such a hallmark of successful brands that it’s also raising the stakes to a point that may be hard to match. Lightning-fast digital transactions convey an aura of service excellence, but consumers will then expect other channels and touchpoints to meet the same (new) high standard.

Consumer expectations are also heavily influenced by other industries. Speed bump elimination in one industry raises consumer expectations across all industries. Auto-populating forms and one-step purchasing in one industry quickly becomes the expectation in others. Time-saving features are especially important with Millennials who are more likely to judge an institution on its technology more so than older generations. Those targeting Millennials must continually upgrade processes and reduce barriers. People’s patience — along with their attention span — is dwindling.

Of course, shaving down speed bumps won’t be easy for most banks and credit unions because they are plagued with outdated legacy IT systems. 48% of US-based banking providers say they are not satisfied with their core banking system, but addressing their issues with legacy systems will be the only way for banks to keep up with consumers’ expectations. Legacy systems obstruct the movement of data between silos, preventing the 360-degree view of the customer that is required to provide personalized services. Even the most inventive workarounds can’t change the fundamentals of a system built twenty years ago.

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