Invention is not innovation. Provide customer-centric digital banking

The key to unlocking game–changing digital banking experiences is to deeply understand the people that banks are looking to serve.

Banks understand the importance of providing the right customer experience. NatWest private banking promises a “more personal banking experience”. Lloyds private banking allows you to “focus on what’s important to you” and offers to “help you to plan your future”. Santander starts its description of private banking as a “personalised treatment” with “maximum quality of service”. In the market for wealthier customers, all of the major high street banks aim for personal relationships. But what about digitally enabling relationships, maximising the quality of service and tailoring personal experiences?

I recently met with an executive at a major UK bank who told me that they have four different types of customers: mass market, affluent, high net worth and ultra–high net worth. Their wealthier customers get personal service from private bankers. In his view, digital banking is what you give to mass–market customers. But are these really the type of people that digital banking serves? Or is this merely a wealth–related marketing segmentation? Marketing segmentation was developed for the purpose of targeting sales and campaigns. Our expectations are not a simple translation of our gender, socio–economic standing, location, age, mortgage size, annual salary or savings. As a banking customer, I might be financially savvy or not. I might be cautious and sceptical, or open and curious. I might need advice or prefer to make my own decisions. I might be a big spender or a calculated saver.

To me, digital banking is what we all expect: personal and customised treatment. Across the wealth spectrum, we expect an intuitive, respectful, relevant and meaningful experience. We now enjoy intuitive, tailored and thoughtful services across a range of providers, from social media, retailers and entertainment to taxi services, fitness and news providers. And you don’t need to be affluent. Most of these services are free! Regardless of the size of our wallets, most banking customers expect personalised high–quality treatment.

Banks are good at understanding and designing their own architectures, frameworks, structures, policies, procedures and technologies. Any digital user interface supports a dialogue between a banking interface and a human. Dialogues with banking alternatives are simply one click away. If banks truly want to create differentiated services that build lasting relationships, they must create services that show that they care.

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