Banks: Help me become your customer
The onboarding process within financial services is (mostly) horrible
In September I attended the Finovate Fall conference in NY, a large financial service conference that meets several times/year around innovation trends in the financial services industry. Presenting companies are mostly smaller companies or startups seeking an audience with some of the 1500 people in attendance representing large institutions from around the world, the VC community, and members of the media. Each presentation is only seven minutes long and PPT slides are frowned upon. These very succinct presentations allowed the audience to see 70 companies over two days.
One of the major themes of Finovate Fall was removing customer and bank friction, particularly the area of onboarding new customers via seamless application submission or account opening (through all product classes). Agility, speed and ease-of-use was almost a universal theme – several demos showcased end-to-end application completion in 3-4 minutes total!
The conference was very topical and drafted off key trends: mobile first, mobile payments, cloud and API services, and the power of data – using social credentials or even Verizon account information to help populate an application form. Biometrics and facial and voice recognition were also featured. Almost every other presentation showcased information capture from a driver’s license.
The consumer-centric imperative
The impetus behind all this innovation is the evolution of consumer behavior. We’re read the narrative over and over again – disruption is eating traditional businesses for lunch. Travel, news, television, music, real estate, and shopping went first. Other industries will come next, driven by new behaviors – time shifting, on-demand living, P2P, mobile first, cord cutting, channel hopping, experience craving. The customer journey is increasingly non-linear and customer expectations are at an all-time high.
The Internet has always had the power to connect likeminded people around an idea, cause or passion. Now, consumers are extremely comfortable with the ubiquitous Internet, powered by always-on mobile connections, and just starting to tap into the power of P2P connections and the sharing economy. Even more, consumers will avoid, or even market around, those organizations that don’t follow an authentic, ease-of-use, paradigm.
Nothing says I value you more than saving you time. Ease and simplicity are now table stakes. This is the context of the onboarding research I recently conducted.
I went looking for mortgage and home equity loans
I went to financial service websites as a prospective customer might have, mostly looking for mortgage and home equity loans, but also online applications for savings accounts, brokerage accounts, and seeking to connect with wealth management firms. All in all, I viewed the online acquisition processes for nearly 70 firms, from the very large – Goldman Sachs with over $800 billion in assets, to Everbank, a regional bank with $20 billion in assets. The inquiry was: how easy is it to open an account, and get access to help when I had a question about a product or the process? How was the overall customer experience?
Most of the firms I surveyed had online applications for mortgages or loans, or both. It was interesting that oftentimes the UI was very different between products, and offers of assistance were hit and miss –
most offered a persistent telephone number for one product or another, a few offered chat, or simply provided a contact form with promise of follow up in a few business days.
Many of these applications look like they were built 10-15 years ago, with very lengthy forms asking for tons of personal data, and when I’d get stuck or disinterested and backtrack or exit, they was no proactive offer of help except for the occasional offer to chat. It is clear that these processes are laden with friction.
Forget responsive design and mobile first thinking. There was virtually no personalization around product selection or getting service. No proactive, anything. Omnichannel means a lot more than providing a telephone number or branch locator, it means valuing my time by allowing me to complete a process via whichever channel is convenient to me, and not having to repeat myself.
While I understand there are often complicated regulatory requirements that are a hindrance to innovating these processes in financial services, there’s also a prevailing feeling of complacency and outdated technology – legacy systems built decades ago and legacy thinking are contributing factors to these sub-par experiences.
By some accounts, 90% of all loan applications started online are abandoned. It is obvious that these dead ends result in firms leaving lots of money on the table.
Is anyone doing this well?
Quicken is a clear leader in customer onboarding and overall customer experience. Quicken customers are much more likely to submit their loan application online compared with industry averages, and close their loans more than two days sooner than the industry average of 20.2 days (source JD Power).
Quicken’s application highlights included:
- Differentiation around customer experience, even calling out customer testimonials on their website, and feature a video overview of their “amazing” process. (JD Power agrees their process is the best, with Quicken winning 8 of the 11 KPIs they track).
- The application flow is very clear and straightforward. Feels modern, especially compared to clunky application processes of other firms.
- Chat is offered prominently, even on the homepage. Persistent “talk to us” CTA.
- Entering even basic personal info triggers “custom rates” and offers for immediate credit reports.
- When you opt-out of the application and ask for a call, a context survey pops up asking why you are abandoning, and they promise to follow up with you (or you can call them).
- They understand personalization and mobile. Their CX emphasis is featured in their MyQL.com site and MyQL mobile app where you can:
- Upload docs with a smartphone
- Store all docs in one place
- Keep in touch – ask question and get quick replies
- Keep connected to loan status, to-do lists, etc.
The way forward
Improving the online application and account opening processes can drive top-line revenue growth while improving NPS and customer-satisfaction through a more connected and contextual experience. Forrester detailed ROI scenarios in The Business Impact of Customer Experience.
In a world of product commoditization, differentiation around customer experience is ever more important. Most financial services companies have built the online infrastructure, but it’s time to wire it up so there’s a consistent current flowing through these user interactions. Right-channeling should not preclude connections to frontline personnel if they can answer a question, find the right product or help complete an app, while also looking for opportunities to cross-sell.
There’s a huge competitive opportunity to “humanize” online transactions by connecting the digital and physical worlds, while ensuring processes are easy and have no dead ends. Mobile first will likely become mobile only for many customer segments so it’s critical to build mobile friendly processes.
Customers don’t care about your channels, or organizational silos. Use your advantages – decades of insights and analytics, and the scale of your omnichannel footprint to re-engineer your processes and people to become more personalized problem solvers. If you don’t, there’s a strong likelihood a battalion of disrupters soon will.
AVP, Digital Experience Solutions