Updated: Feb 24
A friend of mine recently relocated from the East Coast to the Midwest. She and her husband needed a new bank. They decided to give a local community bank a try because they live close to one of the branch locations.
Picture this idyllic scene- they enter the bank to be personally welcomed by several bankers genuinely excited to see them. Then are promptly whisked to meet their very own personal banker, John. After finding out they had left their dog in the car- he insisted they bring the dog in too. It didn’t take long for word to spread in the branch that they were new to town. Before long, my friends were surrounded by several bank employees who wanted to know all about them. And they each showed up with gifts- freshly popped popcorn, coffee, cookies, and even dog treats. With accounts opened and life stories shared, the entire bank walked them to the door with well wishes and goodbyes. John even called later that week with all kinds of referrals for other services in town and offered ongoing support as they settle in.
Her husband exclaimed, “This is literally the nicest bank I’ve ever seen in my life.” They weren’t accustomed to having this kind of experience, and were genuinely wowed by the warm welcome and were feeling the love. Until they went to download the app- “Houston we have a problem.” The bank’s app was limited. Sure, they could at least make a remote deposit as long as it was less than $1200. Check balance, make a transfer, bill pay, remote deposit- #basic. While they loved the people at the bank, they were left saying WTA?!? (What the app?!)
This is the problem. For decades, regional and community banks have dominated by providing ‘we actually know who you are,’ world-class, roll out the red carpet, personal and community service. But banking is facing a rapid proliferation of non-traditional bank competitors that represent a possible business extinction point, a Bankpocalypse. The industry soothsayers are saying banks as we know it could be extinct by 2025. Hearing this makes me sad because I have been proud to be a banker since the 1990s.
But between us- I think we know we are at a critical tipping point. Last year the number of customers who claim a ‘non-traditional’ bank as their primary bank doubled. It’s in our faces every day with new consumer data, startling statistics, and a dizzying roster of new competitors entering the financial services field. The pandemic has accelerated changes for all of us and changed the way our customers want us to serve and help them on their financial journey. I don’t think we need to change completely to do that. We need to extend- our service and our roots. Yes! People still want our friendly, trusted personal service- they just want it in every moment of their banking relationship.
Personal customer service and experience should not end after a customer walks out of the branch front door. Every digital space- from the website to onboarding to the mobile app should feel like an extension of the love felt inside of the bank. It’s about delivering unique, innovative, engaging, and emotional experiences 24/7, where our customers are, whenever they are there- in person and in digital.
Finotta makes me believe we can do it. They are partnering with financial institutions and their customers to continuously craft and innovate the mobile app experience with their Personified Platform. Think max trust-building and engagement with automated and personal financial guidance, predictive product recommendations, digitized relationship building, account aggregation, and customized nudges and gamified celebrations. Delightful, digital service experiences- with moments that feel like your banker is there for you all the time . . . handing you a bag of popcorn and a fresh-baked cookie with a smile.