Six months ago, who would have thought that several of the major eCom providers would experience outages (likely capacity-related) during the same week that government surplus checks were to be direct deposited? Or that call centers around the country would be inundated with customers trying to figure out how to pay their bills online? Suffice to say, the COVID19 pandemic and related fallout has forced consumers and businesses to change – possibly forever- the way they access their money. And, thus, the need for financial institutions to evaluate their digital strategies.
Evaluate Your Digital Strategy:
Most of the Financial Institution customers we have spoken with over the past 60 days have been in a defensive position. They are torn between responding to PPP requests and balancing the health of their employees and customers, with the decision to keep branches open. As a result, not many have had the opportunity to evaluate how effectively they are remotely supporting customers, especially compared to their competitors’ support strategies.
Since there does not seem to be a consensus on how long this “new normal” will last, we expect that banks and credit unions will soon need to do a mid-crisis review on how well their digital strategy is holding up. To better understand your FI’s position, ask these questions internally to see how well you are faring:
- How many new customer logins has the FI seen in your eCommerce platform over the past 60 days?
- How many downloads of your Mobile banking application has the FI experienced?
- Have eCommerce/mobile transactions increased or are customers stuck in navigating the mobile platforms?
- Is your call center overloaded with more questions related to navigating eCommerce tools than the usual banking inquiries that the call center manages?
- Wait times at call centers have increased. But regardless of wait time, is your team trained to answer the eCommerce and mobile questions that they have received in the last 60 days?
A quick review of these items and other bottlenecks that your teams are experiencing should provide key insights. For instance, is this situation merely the perfect storm of every customer needing access to all your mobile tools immediately, or does your FI have a larger problem with a potentially longer-lasting impact? Perhaps you either do not have the correct tools available, or you have the correct tools, but improper customer training on how to use the tools you have.
Why do a Strategy Evaluation during a Pandemic?
After you ask the questions above, you may find some short-term fixes that could help improve your customers’ lives during these stressful times. However, you may also realize that you need both new tools and customer training in some areas, and those may take longer to resolve.
Consider if this new push toward digital banking becomes an enduring normal, and customers decide that they do not need branch services as much as they thought. Perhaps they realize the amount of time they can save by banking online and look to continue expanding their digital banking opportunities. Is your FI’s infrastructure ready to adapt to this potentially permanent change?
The need to review your digital strategy now should be obvious, even if it is not the optimal time because of the other pressures on your FI.
If social distancing continues throughout 2020 or even 2021, how likely are your customers to revert to a primarily in-person banking relationship? Would your customers move to a different financial institution if your digital tech stack is not up to par, or if they must wait in a call center queue to learn how to use digital functions for which they have an ongoing need?
Your teams should be discussing these considerations now, rather than hoping circumstances will soon become less chaotic.