Chris McDonnell, Managing Director with Greenwich Associates, advises senior management at leading commercial, corporate and investment banks.
Digital banking capabilities are playing an even larger role in companies’ relationships with their commercial banks and selection of new banking partners. Opportunities for improvement in digital banking technology have been catalyzed by sharply improving B2C capabilities and customer experiences.
While challenges remain, leading banks recognize these hurdles and are stepping up investments accordingly. Most have set ambitious development timelines and are investing considerable sums to build out digital platforms they hope will address “ease of doing business” perceptions and ultimately strengthen the customer relationship. Customer demand for convenience continues to accelerate.
Over the past several years, “ease of doing business” has climbed up the list of factors that drive companies’ satisfaction with their banks. In fact, it now ranks as the single biggest determinant of companies’ overall bank satisfaction. There are at least three main drivers of this trend:
- Regulatory and compliance demands have altered interactions between commercial banks and their customers. KYC rules, documentation requirements, anti-money-laundering rules, and other aspects of post-crisis regulatory scrutiny make processes like onboarding and other basic interactions more time-consuming and frustrating.
- Since the end of the financial crisis, banks have been operating in an adverse environment. Elevated capital requirements have altered the economics of the business, cutting into profitability and budgets. This has taken place in a period of historically low interest rates that made it harder for banks to make money.
- Outside of the commercial banking industry, digital service is not only better, but in some cases, approaches great. Company owners and executives by day are typical consumers by night. They buy household items on Amazon and make airline reservations on their mobile phones. Even in their personal banking, they use retail bank websites and mobile platforms that easily handle most routine tasks with a few swipes and taps. The digital capabilities of these companies help create positive customer experiences and build loyalty, setting new expectations for all digital interactions, including commercial banking experiences. However, when these professionals go to work, many are forced to endure the comparatively archaic (often paper-based) procedures of their commercial banks.
Banks are making an aggressive push to catch up on the tech front; the biggest global and national commercial banks are continuously updating their ambitious technology development roadmaps and making significant progress in execution. They expect to see the payoff in the form of an improved customer experience that reduces headaches and time demands for clients, while also driving a sustainable cost-to-serve model.
One important benefit large banks will derive from their new technology platforms is the ability for their RMs to spend less time on routine functions and more time on “higher value” tasks, such as meeting with customers and prospects and providing companies with business advice —advice that soon will be enhanced and enabled by such technologies as artificial intelligence.
The consumerization of digital banking expectations is well under way, pushed along by comparatively superior digital experiences outside the commercial banking industry. The magnitude of development currently underway is unprecedented in the industry. In the coming years, we anticipate tracking the race toward a digital customer experience that aligns with what we as consumers engage in daily.
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