How Customers Are Changing the Banking Industry

As both a banking customer, and a software professional, I can’t help but notice that the financial services industry is going through a period of unprecedented change at the moment. In my day job, I can see that banks are working hard on innovative ways of connecting touchpoints and utilising their data in a more meaningful way. And as a customer, I can see that little by little, I am starting to receive a more personal service from my bank. I have, you could say, a rather unique perspective of the situation.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that my relationship with my bank hasn’t really changed in the last 20+ years and that it hasn’t done anything to really understand me as a consumer, how I bank and the sort of transactions I like to do on different platforms. But, I do know better. The drive to provide more personalized banking services represents a huge investment from my bank, as they strive to deliver more connected and competitive services – it’s just that at the moment we are still only scratching the surface of what is possible.

Experience is now the driving force in banking, with traditional high street banks in the UK and Ireland feeling the pressure of competition from more agile, digitally led challenger banks, such as Atom, Monzo and Starling – which have been able to quickly adopt technology to make their customer experiences meaningful, seamless and intuitive.

But what is a meaningful banking experience? For most customers, banks are still very siloed in how they operate. Whilst banks provide similar services through their different channels, they have tended to be built using different technology platforms, making cross channel journeys difficult to achieve.

Driven by changing consumer behavior, the concept of channel will disappear as banks start to break down these silos and work towards bringing the physical and digital experience together. This will be a huge step for financial institutions to take, but an incredibly important one because customers don’t think in terms of channels – they want to consume services where, when and how they want them and services must be adapted accordingly.

As we look to the future, the trend towards and demand for increasingly flexible and convenient services in our day to day lives is only set to grow. Whether this is requesting a cash withdrawal from a mobile banking app, and then going to the closest ATM and scanning a QR code to receive your cash, or receiving an offer for instant credit at the point of sale.

This level of convenience will be based around data-driven services and will enable customers to leverage banking facilities when, how and (most importantly) where they want to engage them.  Customers can expect their online banking offerings to be completely personalized and be available through non-traditional sources, have links to help you quickly complete your most frequent transactions, and with suggestions for new products that might be of interest. Also expect your banking services to integrate more seamlessly with retail transactions, providing a far more personalized customer experience.

To make this possible, banks need to leverage the wealth of data they already hold and enable transactions to flow seamlessly – breaking down the barriers between the branch, the ATM, online banking and mobile banking apps. It’s a big task, but those that can do this successfully will be able to reduce their operational costs, streamline their processes, roll out future customer service enhancements faster than their competitors and identify new revenue streams by understanding customer trends and preferences.

For the customer, this really does mean that financial services are changing – and for the better. It will involve an experience, not just a faceless transaction, will become easy to consume, inherently mobile and will bring the physical and digital worlds much closer together.

Where are the silos in your organization? Let’s talk about ways to break them down and drive amazing consumer experiences.

This article originally appeared on Finextra.com.