By Dominic Venturo, Chief Innovation Officer, U.S. Bank
New technologies and the growing number of mobile devices have prompted banking institutions to rethink their traditional way of doing business. Transactions are rapidly shifting from branches and handshakes, to apps and fingerprints, maybe someday even an iris scan. But just because the technology is available, does it mean we should use it?
According to a recent survey by U.S. Bank, “The Balancing Act: U.S. Bank 2015 Outlook on People and Technology,” 70 percent of consumers across all generations believe that banks featuring the latest technology are more trustworthy, yet 63 percent said they will never make all financial transactions digitally. “Never” is a strong position to take. This push-pull with technology demonstrates that despite headlines, when it comes to a personal touch, there’s no app for that.
Bank branches are not only viable, but vital at a time when there is an increased focus on customer experience and service. In fact, the survey found that nearly 90 percent of Americans will plan to do at least some of their banking at physical branches five years from now. While customer needs are certainly evolving, it may not be at the pace that some have predicted. As we continue to develop new apps and gadgets, we must remember not to innovate simply for the sake of innovation, but to develop new solutions for real issues facing our customers.
At Your Service
So why do Americans want to maintain some interactions offline? The answer is simple, customer service. The survey shows that nearly 80 percent of consumers fear poorer service if their bank switched entirely to digital interactions. Does this mean that customers won’t use or appreciate technology-enabled solutions that help make their financial lives easier? Of course not.
At U.S. Bank, we know that banking is not a cookie-cutter industry; and not all issues can be resolved with a virtual agent. Our customers have unique situations and need personalized service. In fact, 80 percent of Americans said they prefer working with a professional banker instead of a virtual one to resolve issues.
They also rely on banking relationships to help guide them through critical issues when the stakes are at their highest, such as:
- Buying a home (50%)
- Starting a business (39%)
- Establishing credit for the first time (29%)
- Retiring (24%)
As the industry moves forward, we need to view technology as a way to connect with people – not to replace them.
Finding a Balance
As fintech firms, mobile payment providers, and startups begin to replicate banking functions, traditional banks will differentiate themselves in ways technology alone cannot – with the human touch. At U.S. Bank, we realize value is shifting away from merely banking services and moving toward building and maintaining deep customer relationships. For banks, this will soon be a major differentiator.
Consumers are challenging the industry to meet their demands, requiring a delicate balance between convenience, security and personalized engagement. However, while consumers appreciate the flexibility of new technology for routine transactions, human interaction remains the core to banking relationships.