With so much emerging technology and an ever-growing list of options for customers, it’s more crucial than ever for financial institutions to set themselves apart from their competition – but where to even begin? Hint: It starts with great customer and user experiences! Navigating that can feel overwhelming, but luckily, fintech industry thought leaders have some guidance.
At the recent FinXTech Xchange webinar hosted by BankDirector’s Lexie Grindstaff, Narmi Co-founder Nikhil Lakhanpal joined industry leaders to discuss what it takes to provide an outstanding customer experience. He sat down with Apiture’s SVP of Customer Success Lindsay Rajsky, Total Expert’s Chief Product Officer Matt Tibbets to talk about the products, concepts, and partnerships financial institutions can harness for long-term success with customers.
Here are their main takeaways for building experiences that help your institution stand apart from the competition:
Lexie’s first question, and a question at the forefront of financial institutions and fintechs alike, had to do with emerging markets and demographics in need of financial services. Nikhil immediately mentioned the small and medium business (SMB) market. Specifically, he pointed out that this market is full of enormous potential, but is still getting very little attention from financial institutions.
“I think as banks have grown their commercial client base and business client base over the last decades, there's almost been this identity crisis around the SMBs space,” shared Nikhil. “This is a big demographic, but it's a very ignored demographic, and we at Narmi feel strongly that that's a massive opportunity for banks that no one's doing – everyone's after the retail deposit, but the SMB deposits are right there to be taken, and very few people are after it right now.”
Lindsay also mentioned that with this emerging business market, institutions have seen their customers willing to pay a little extra to get what they really want. “We're seeing many of our customers and financial institutions warming up to offering more advanced services that sometimes come with a higher price tag for the institution, and passing some of those costs onto customers because they're high-value solutions that customers are excited about,” she explains. “They're happy that their banks are integrating with these providers and they're often happy to pay for those services.”
Knowing what your customers need and expect from their financial institution seems like a pretty basic idea, but it can still get lost amid all the attention on new tech and competing with larger banks. Matt Tippets maintains that the key to any success starts with the people, and with cultivating and maintaining relationships – real ones – with customers.
That means listening to feedback as well as leveraging data to proactively create the services and products your customers and members want. It also means anticipating their needs to build a product roadmap that supports the users’ priorities, rather than what the institution wants to sell.
“This might sound like a platitude, but customers need to know that you as a financial institution care about them and understand them,” Matt says. “When I say that your customers need to know that you care about them, that assumes that you understand who they are, that you understand the data that you have about them, and that you have the people in place to work with each and every one of your customers to their benefit. It also assumes that you're communicating with them on a proactive basis.”
The larger “megabanks” and innovative Challenger banks can provide great inspiration, but looking to them can also be limiting and ultimately self-defeating. “If you're just constantly replicating or chasing after what your larger competitor does, you're always going be behind,” Nikhil points out.. It’s a hard truth, but luckily, there’s inspiration to be found everywhere, not just in finance. “Because, don't forget, the consumer that's banking with you digitally also does a lot of other things outside of digital banking. Narmi looks at user experiences outside of banking and then replicates them into banking,” he explains.
“Because, don't forget, the consumer that's banking with you digitally also does a lot of other things outside of digital banking." - Nikhil Lakhanpal
And it goes the other way, too. Lindsay Rajsky talks about how Apiture is using their library of APIs to integrate their services into non-banking scenarios. “Our innovation team at aperture is using open banking, our collection of open APIs, to ask how financial products can really be used,” she says. “And now we're thinking about how they can be used on non-financial platforms. We’re thinking about the standardization and the promotion of connectivity between different financial services and entities.”
Many smaller and mid-sized community financial institutions simply don’t have the in-house resources to maintain constant digital evolution for their customers, so partnering with the right fintech company is key. But that also means finding the vendors that can create the best products for the needs of their customers.
“If you're working with an online banking provider who is not a large conglomerate, there's someone like Apiture or Narmi who has a hyper focused roadmap that's going to deliver a lot of high value,” Lindsay says. “But financial institutions don't just have to accept what their online banking provider is marketing at the moment. They know their customers best, and they're really good at identifying the sort services and integrations that they need and the partners that they want to work with.”
Watch the full conversation to learn how fintech innovation can help banks and credit unions differentiate themselves in the marketplace with a strong identity that reflects the unique needs of their customers and members. You’ll also learn about some of the emerging technology everyone is excited to work with, what kind of demographic data has been the most useful, pitfalls banks need to learn to avoid and overcome, and other insights into helping financial institutions create even more personalized and positive customer experiences.