A Flagship for the Future: Your Website is Your Bank’s Most Important Branch

Joel Gerber
Illustrated man doing online banking
Consumer demands are rapidly reshaping the financial industry with expectations for personalization, convenience and choice ranking at the top of the list. G2O dives into why your website should be your bank's flagship branch to meet these demands and the critical components to optimizing the online customer experience.

Personalization. Choice. Experience. Convenience. Online banking may feel fraught with buzz words, but the reality is that the landscape has, and will continue, to change based on consumer demands, which are rapidly reshaping the industry.

So how do you ensure your bank stays ahead of the curve, and continues to convert? By treating your website as your most important, flagship branch, and delivering a seamless online experience that meets the needs of your key customers. And the fact is that those needs vary based on your audience.

For example, we know that Gen Z prioritizes speed and ease of use but, Boomers may need a bit more hand holding as they transition online, with educational tutorials guiding them to make the process a positive one. The key is that your “flagship branch”—your website—provides a seamless, easy to use, and easy to understand experience for all of your customers, no matter their priorities.

The Future of Banking

These needs, combined with the ever increasing digital-first behavior of banking customers, drive the need for a strategic approach to website design, ensuring that your experience caters to both current customers and prospects in ways that connect and convert. Emphasizing this need is a 2021 survey from Temenos that underscores the growing, digital-first trend with three in five customers saying they only visit a branch when they absolutely need to and more than half opting for online banking. The survey also shows that a substantial 65% of customers use mobile as their preferred channel.

Rather than going to the bank, today’s consumers are banking on the go, making friction free online experiences a must-have. Additionally we’ve seen the rapid emergence of Fintechs and companies offering services such as Buy Now, Pay Later which pose considerable risk to traditional banking market share as their service offerings are designed with a digital-first approach, giving them a leg up with digitally native generations.  While the degree of product innovation may vary for these Fintechs, their delivery has most certainly been innovative, and consumer choice has become increasingly driven by the digital experience that brands and services deliver to their customers.

Below we explore some key considerations when thinking about your bank’s site experience and how it can serve as your flagship branch to help meet these evolving customer behaviors.

Site Experience: A Tale of Two Audiences

When a consumer visits your site, what messages are front and center? The balancing act between acquisition and retention challenges Experience Designers to effectively communicate the appropriate message – whether that’s one of loyalty, product and service presentation, upselling, or cross-selling – to each audience. Rather than hide those key elements behind the login, g2o strives to build sites that engage and deliver for current customers at the point of entry while also showing prospects what they can expect as a client.

We do this by harnessing both owned and third-party data to drive predictive marketing, allowing the site to offer products and/or services at the right time to the right audience. Consumers are used to the brands, businesses, and companies they interact with tailoring interactions to their needs, and they expect the same from their bank. An effective microtargeting strategy can lead to a hyper-personalized experience, similar to a one-on-one interaction with your in-branch banker and make each interaction your customer has with your site more and more relevant to their specific needs.

Building Trust with Prospects

It’s a simple fact, most evidenced by the retail sector, that most (read: 98%) first-time website visitors do not convert. Instead, our objective is to lay the groundwork for them to visit again, overcoming the perceived hurdle that switching banks is a serious hassle. With new competition in the marketplace from nontraditional players such as new Fintechs as well as Amazon and Google, indicators are that consumers not only expect tech to impact their financial services, but they are willing to bank with whomever maximizes that experience.

At g2o we know exactly how important that repeat visit is for converting prospects to customers. And we have experience doing exactly that. We recently helped a large regional bank modernize their site, showcasing services to be “shopped” and enabling an Amazon-like shopping cart, streamlining onboarding, and ultimately, improving visitor satisfaction. Nimble design allowed for the launch of a PPP loan product within 7 days of the program’s release, driving $3.6 billion in PPP loans from inception through 3Q21. Awarded Best Brand in Ease of Doing Business, Trust and Long-Term Relationships, the new website also garnered over 9000 new appointments in its first year.

Hyper Personalization Drives Customer Satisfaction

We all know it’s easier to keep an existing client than convert a new one, but simply delivering the status quo won’t lead to loyalty in the race towards personalization. Solidifying and strengthening existing consumer relationships through transparent uses of data can help directly address the changing relationship that the next generation is having with every institution they engage with, including their banks. Highlighting that importance is a November 2021 EY survey that underscores the critical importance of building trust and connection as a key component for how brands and businesses can earn Gen Z’s confidence.

Rather than a sprint, we believe this transition to be a marathon, to be led by the banks who start now. One of the first and most important steps is effective data collection that allows for an integrated view of the customer across online, mobile, and in-branch interactions—thus giving banks a much more accurate view of their customers’ behaviors, needs, and triggers.  With that basis, insights can be uncovered to help develop an experience strategy that positions your bank for continued viability and growth well into the future.

Four Critical Components for Optimization

Continual optimization of your digital flagship requires a thorough understanding of your customer’s needs and their corresponding banking journey. Establishing this understanding will allow you to identify the key areas of opportunity and to establish clear priorities for the ongoing development of your online banking presence. Below are four critical components to ensuring your digital flagship delivers for both you and your customers alike.

#1 Go on the Customer Journey

Rather than rushing into a new strategy, take the time to understand how consumers are currently experiencing your digital products. Where are the highs of the experience? What hurdles are they running into? Where do customers abandon the experience? How does the journey change based on the drivers that lead to each individual interaction? Leveraging patterns in your customers’ digital behavior and identifying exceptions to those patterns can help in the development of solid guiding principles for the design and optimization of your site.

#2 Let Data Drive

Your customers will tell you what they care about, you only have to listen. We recommend casting a wide net of sources from NPS Surveys to customer complaints, chat logs, and website search data to identify where the pain points exist. And if you find yourself struggling to find meaning in a mountain of data we’d recommend leveraging a classification system to narrow in on key moments of impact and opportunity.

#3 Make a Map

Whether you’ve been collecting data already or need to install a CRM such as SiteCore, ensure it can be leveraged to enhance the customer experience and to help you build a roadmap that effectively maximizes the journey. Serving as the basis for prioritization of features, functions, and digital services, a solid CRM system enables data to drive the design and development effort with efficiency, ensuring mutual benefit to the bank and its customers.

#4 Align the Axles

Customers and prospects alike have high expectations, and potential improvements may come from a variety of touch points, both internal and external. To prioritize these measures, we recommend aligning your business strategies and goals with areas of opportunity for experience enhancement to determine overall operational value and the importance of each initiative.

Ultimately, finding a partner to help you build a roadmap that delivers meaningful outcomes and measurable ROI is critical to the success of your bank’s website, whether it’s in need of a refresh or a more complete overhaul. Just as you would when building a brick-and-mortar branch, seek out the support of subject matter experts that can guide you in creating an online flagship poised for the future.

Our team at G2O is ready to be an extension of yours, Contact us today for a conversation.