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Simple, Personal, Secure

By: Michael Scheibach

As financial institutions continue their transition from multi-channel to omni-channel services, their customers are placing even greater importance on the simplification, personalization and security of their banking experiences. So finds the recently released “Cisco Customer Experience Report,” which focuses on retail banking.

Not surprisingly, the report found that the most important attributes consumers desire when interacting with their financial institutions are availability (63 percent), competence (65 percent) and efficiency (68 percent) — three areas that highlight the opportunity and challenges banking institutions face in meeting current and future customer expectations.

“Although these are not new attributes,” said Al Slamecka, marketing manager, financial services, for Cisco, “what is increasingly clear is that these attributes are now linked to customer expectations across all delivery channels rather than just a branch. Failure to deliver a compelling experience across all channels could have a greater negative impact on customer perception. The key takeaway for banks is agility achieved through a holistic strategy to address omni-channel delivery. This is a critical capability to keep and win over new customers.”

The report also found that 60 percent of U.S. consumers would provide additional personal information in order to receive greater simplicity in managing their finances. Independent Internet-based companies, such as, are aggressively marketing personal financial management solutions, but banks are beginning to integrate PFM tools into their online and mobile banking services.

“We do see banks enhancing the functionality of PFM tools to help customers simplify financial management as part of their everyday life,” said Slamecka. “It’s also a channel for banks to provide efficient (i.e., low-cost), value-added services customers are willing to pay for.” He cites, for example, a bank that allows customers using remote check deposit to access their funds more quickly for a small fee, and other banks that offer value-added budgeting tools through Internet banking or mobile banking applications as a competitive differentiator for customers who value the ability to use these tools at their discretion.

Another competitive differentiator is account security, which remains a top concern among consumers. According to the Cisco report, in fact, 53 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to provide their bank with a fingerprint or other biometrics to verify financial transactions.

“When we set up this survey,” said Slamecka, “we wanted a better understanding of how much information consumers are willing to provide their financial institution in exchange for more personalized services tailored to their needs. As nothing is more personal than biometric data or a fingerprint, we were surprised at the high percentage of U.S. customers willing to provide this to their bank in exchange for asset protection from dangers like identity theft.” This also shows that U.S. consumers trust banks to protect their most personal information and to keep it safe, which is a competitive edge. The key, according to Slamecka, is to have a balance of the right level of security, while maintaining user-friendliness of the customer experience.

Even with the desire for more personalized, simplified and secure banking services through any channel, however, consumers still place a high value on brick-and-mortar banks, with 54 percent of U.S. respondents indicating they would not open an account with a completely virtual bank. And even though the branch channel will not be the only channel where high-value relationships will be sought in the future, Slamecka believes the branch will remain the best location for introducing new delivery capabilities that ultimately extend to other channels.

Michael Scheibach is executive editor of BankNews.

Copyright (c) July 2013 by BankNews Media