Investing in the right user experience to win Millennials in Banking

Reported by: |Updated: April 5, 2018

Malavika Kumar is Business Growth Consultant, BFSI, Aspire Systems

The most important banking customer of today is the millennial, who belongs to the mobile-savvy, tech-friendly, 20-35 year-old demographic. To acquire and retain this mercurial and difficult to please segment, the user experience in banking must be reimagined to create a more engaging experience. Switching from product-centered to customer-centered thinking must be a bank’s No 1 priority.

In order to transcend user expectations today, banks must look beyond usability and understand what sort of experiences they need to offer at every touch point of digital interaction. This calls for a deep, real-time understanding of the motivations, needs, behaviors and pain points of individual customers. The full customer journey needs to be thought out to the finest detail – by taking advantage of increasingly sophisticated technologies- to deliver the new experiences that this demographic is increasingly demanding.

It is not surprising that brands like Apple evoke such strong overall brand loyalty for this generation. Apple products are known for fluid, self-guided and efficient user experiences that allow users to accomplish their goals with ease.

Processes, technology and culture

There are three main challenges facing banks in their attempt to become more user-friendly: processes, technology and culture. Banks need to put more thought into the entire process, from start to finish, keeping in mind the broader context of customer lifecycle management and digital transformation strategies. Often, banks ‘bolt on’ some new functionalities that might look attractive at the first glance, but once customers start using them, they realize that processes still remain cumbersome at the fundamental level. A glossy and modern looking screen or website might look appealing to users; however, it would ultimately be of little help if user interactions are not made personalized and frictionless across channels. Unless all systems across the bank’s middle and back office operations are in sync to offer a 360-degree customer view, such interactions cannot be possible.

A bank’s struggle in dealing with its processes is almost always inextricably linked to technology. Legacy technology often impedes a bank’s ability to change its processes and innovate faster.

And both of the above factors are closely linked to culture (and people). The desire to modernize and innovate cascades from the top. A culture of departmental silos, risk aversion and lack of a commitment to the customer would ultimately undermine efforts to shift from a product-centerd to a customer-centerd point of view.

Leveraging data and insights to power UX

Data is a crucial element to know your customer. Every interaction of the customer with the bank would provide an input on what they expect. Analyzing this data provides an understanding of their behavior and helps to deliver contextual, highly targeted experiences for every customer. This makes it important for banks to adopt tools, technologies and solutions that help to capture the customer behavior, analyze the data and deliver a delightful experience. In this scenario, following the digital footprint of every user across mobile and web devices has become imperative to understand the user journey and find answers to the following key questions:

Who are my best customers and what features do they love?

How do I get more customers and engage more deeply with the ones I have?

How can I keep customers around longer and earn more from them?

Building meaningful relationships

It is no longer enough to simply enable smooth banking transactions. Three out of five millennials expect their bank to be a financial partner, according to a survey by Facebook. They seek relationships that are built on a strong foundation of trust and deliver genuine value.

It all comes down to using data to look deeper into the lives of the millennials, understand how they want to do things and their end goals, and use all this information to proactively engage with them at an emotional level through personalized banking. As this generation faces major financial decisions for the first time – rich, intuitive user experiences that empower them with the tools and guidance needed to manage their money-  would be the key to winning them over in the long term. From helping them understand credit scores to paying down student loans or buying a house, banks need to leverage user experience as a potent enabler for driving value in a proactive manner.

Meeting customer needs in the age of open banking

Open banking would be a catalyst for UX design being brought to the forefront – banks would have no choice really! Customers would no longer be forced to interact with just one bank, they can switch banks at ease. Most of such switches currently stem from poor customer experience while using internet or mobile banking. As competition intensifies, more partnerships will be forged, and more innovations will happen.

In order to fit in with customer expectations in the new ecosystem, incumbent providers would have to revamp their UX design approach. They need to have a conversation with customers on their own terms; putting across the right message, at the right time, over the right channel. It makes sense to take stock of the existing solutions banks already have in place, eliminate silos across channels and departments, and finally make sure that there are no hitches when new solutions are deployed.

The road ahead

The field of UX has already made great strides and will continue to do so in the future. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, will take banking UX to a new level altogether. Currently, we are still a long way off from genuine AI (chatbots and basic Alexa skills don’t count as such – although they are a step in the AI direction). With AI incorporated in UX design, millennial experiences can be augmented in such a way that there is a lesser cognitive load on each user. This, in turn, would pave the path for experiences that are way smarter and much more targeted- because of the sheer power of data and computing that banks would have.  As AI begins to anticipate customer’s needs with greater accuracy, it will be easier to predict and build next steps to individual customer interactions and also design products that deliver this intuition.

(The discussion is based on a webinar session by Sajeev Sreekantan – Temenos Practice Manager, Aspire Systems, Dharmesh Mistry- Chief Digital Officer, Temenos and Tanya Andreasyan – MD & Editor-in-Chief, Fintech Futures on Winning Millennials with the power of User Experience.)

  • Malavika Kumar is Business Growth Consultant, BFSI, Aspire Systems