Perhaps the worst-kept secret in the industry is that digital banking usage grew over the last year. It’s not that it hadn’t been growing before. It’s just that the COVID pandemic sped up the adoption of digital tools.
However, as Jenn Markus, Director of Technology Partners at Glia said during our recent digital banking webinar, it’s crucial to look a little deeper at the numbers to really understand what the digital shift means for your financial institution.
Digital banking soars during the pandemic
Bank customers were partaking in a wide range of activities digitally, some once exclusively handled in physical branches.
According to a study from DepositAccounts from LendingTree, 91% of respondents completed a banking activity online over the past 30 days. The top activities were:
- Checked account balance
- Deposited a check
- Made a peer-to-peer payment
- Transferred funds to another account
- Paid a credit card bill
As with many other activities like shopping, COVID-19 impacted digital banking usage; however, it doesn’t appear to be a short-lived bump, according to the J.D. Power U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction StudySM.
Once the pandemic hit in March 2020, digital banking usage trends shifted all the way through the early part of 2021. The survey showed that just a few months post-pandemic, digital-only usage and preferences surpassed the combination of digital and physical. In 2020, users of digital-only banking topped out at 40% (+11 from 2019), while digital + branch was down 9% compared to 2019 to 46%.
According to Markus, “So here we are now, early 2021, and we see that people aren’t returning in droves to branches. Digital-only usage levels have remained the same. New patterns of behavior have been formed. And [there are] new preferences for how people want to conduct their banking activities on a day to day basis.”
Drawbacks of the online digital banking experience
While it’s important to provide digital banking that customers can use either alone or in conjunction with physical branch visits, what might be more important is the experience that customers receive online.
According to the study, digital communication didn’t always hit the mark, with respondents saying:
- It was far less friendly and customer-centric.
- They were less likely to believe their institution communicates honestly and with useful guidance.
- They were unhappy with problem resolution, product knowledge, fees, and advice.
Financial institutions communicated frequently via digital channels over the course of the pandemic. Unfortunately, that communication wasn’t always effective. It wasn’t always welcome or contextualized to what the user was doing during their session. In that way, the digital experience couldn’t make up for a lack of human interaction or human contact within the banking context.
Improving the digital banking consumer experience
The online experience doesn’t have to be dissimilar from the in-person customer experience when handled correctly. Even though where they bank and how they bank may be different, customers still want a great experience—even online. These expectations are the driving force behind best practices for digital customer experience, and the standards are no different for financial institutions.
This becomes more important for banks and credit unions to navigate as non-financial companies from Amazon to Walmart continue to encroach on banks and other traditional financial institutions by entering the fintech market.
Technology can offer seamless digital services from chats to screen shares and video that can help banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions deliver a real-world level customer experience in the digital world. These features help meet consumer expectations and allow financial institutions to keep a competitive advantage over newer entrants.
Glia’s technology, for instance, gives customer service centers the ability to do the following, without having the user download or install any additional software:
- The agent in the contact center has the ability to see the user’s session in real time, providing context and information prior to entering into an engagement.
- Customers can begin a chat interaction and the customer service agent is able to co-browse, showing where to go on the site and help complete the desired transactions.
- The chat can be upgraded to include audio and/or video in that same interaction. This is done without ever breaking that chain of communication, reducing customer frustration from having to call in or start another chat.
To learn more about the trends in digital banking and how to deliver exceptional customer service to your digital banking customers and credit union members, watch the full webinar here.
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