The New Era of Digital Relationships and the Omni-Channel Experience

Over sixty percent of participants in a survey conducted for American Bankers Association reported banking online or on mobile more than any other method. How many participants said they bank primarily in branches? About 18%. Does that mean the bank branch is dying? Not necessarily. Even millennials still visit bank branches regularly.  And as Mirador’s Trevor Dryer explores in his Forbes article, bank branches that evolve to meet the needs of 21st-century account holders can stay relevant in the digital era.

The more timely question is how can financial institutions nurture relationships and know their customers in an era of digital relationships?

Constant Conversations

Years ago connecting with friends often meant conversations in-person, over dinner, over the phone or even over the backyard fence. The digital era has changed that. Now, friends and family are available virtually 24/7, agnostic of their location, time zone or even bedtime. Whether through social channels, video chat or text, maintaining relationships, picking up the conversation where you last left it, is no longer dependent on time, location or even platform. Building and nurturing important relationships is a 24/7 digital affair.

 

Coordinated Conversation

The digital era has changed how businesses nurture customer relationships. Having conversations with customers is no longer relegated to scheduled calls, appointments in an office, or drop-by encounters in a branch. Digitization extends the conversation across time, space and channel. And with a majority of customers banking online and on mobile, more consumers expect their financial institutions to be available 24/7 and to remember their last interaction – regardless of the communication channel. Simply, they expect a seamless, omnichannel experience.

Consider this scenario: You meet a friend for lunch to plan a trip you’re taking together. Later, you check your social profiles and think of a question for your friend. Then you remember your friend doesn’t do social. So you go to text your friend with the question, and you recall your friend doesn’t use a smartphone – and doesn’t text. So you phone. The line’s busy, and voicemail, full. What kind of experience is that? Frustrating, at best. Destructive, at worst.

That’s the kind of experience institutions create for customers when they fail to extend the conversation, the experience, across all channels. Simply, they fail to offer a coordinated customer experience, and, frankly, they risk damaging their customer relationships.

 

Digitally-enhanced Relationships

Digitization extends the conversation across channels and can even enhance the face-to-face interactions some customers crave. Let’s say a small business owner decides to complete a loan application. She discovers her bank offers a small business loan application online and completes that application, at night when she has time to work on finances. The next day, she decides to drop by the local branch to ask a question about the loan. She’s greeted by a loan officer who immediately finds her digital loan application and answers her questions. What’s more, the information noted when they spoke in-person is visible to her when she logs in that evening and is available to the service team when she calls the bank with another question the next day. For this customer, digitization replaced a potentially disconnected experience with a holistic, omnichannel experience, an experience that demonstrates to the customer that her bank knows her, is interested in her and wants her business.

Far from threatening human connections, digitization can transform potentially disjointed customer interactions into better customer experiences. And better customer experiences can translate into stronger relationships, increased loyalty and higher retention. Actually, Mirador partner banks typically are able to reduce loan processing times by more than 50% and increase application-completion rates to 65%+ (compared to a 25% industry average). And the result for small business lenders and their customers is nothing short of transformative.

Learn more about how Mirador is empowering lenders to transform their traditional lending processes.  And peruse these dos and don’ts of digitization for insights on starting your institution on its journey to digitization.