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Rethinking the Digital Experience for Retail Banking

By Alex De Fursac Gash | February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

Engagement the key to growth

Customer engagement remains a big priority for Marketing teams as a means of driving growth – both from new and existing customers. 87% of those surveyed in Gartner’s recent Marketer panel survey stated that they believe customer engagement to be a key strategic priority.


“Engagement is the place where it happens for driving revenue growth. So, we’re looking for more opportunities to push information out to our customers. We’re trying to maximize the take-action rates as best we can, trying to identify the areas we should be doubling down on.”

Vice President, Digital Marketing and Loyalty, Financial Services


This need to engage customers is particularly felt in the world of retail financial services, where the global pandemic has not only raised the threat of greater financial uncertainty for many, but has also meant that providers have become increasingly depended on one variety of customer engagement…the digital variety.

Interestingly, there appears to be not one, but multiple schools of thought as to what a best-in-class approach to digital customer engagement should look like. These include: more personalization; optimizing the online user (or “buyer”) experience; improving customer satisfaction; and even good old email campaigns.

This naturally begs the simple but fundamental question…what type of digital engagement is most likely to engage customers in a way that will drive growth?


A growing need for financial empowerment in the digital age

Gartner’s Global Customer Buying Survey reveals that the need for customer agency has never been greater as we progress through the digital age. What used to be a source of customer empowerment (greater access to information, choice and other people or market influencers) is quickly becoming the exact opposite. People feel increasingly overwhelmed and anxious by the sheer volume of information and content that they must process.

This apparent loss of customer agency is also seemingly impacting purchase likelihood. According to Humanizing Digital 2020 Report, a reported “54% of consumers have stopped purchasing products from a brand or retailer website because choosing the right product was too difficult”.

This presents an interesting opportunity for Marketers to add a new flavor of customer-centricity. Why? Because in a world where customers are feeling anxious and overwhelmed, they are consequently finding it harder to explore and to choose.

This is particularly acute when it comes to managing personal finances, where the need for customers to learn about their financial needs… and about how to meet their financial goals… and about what products are available….can be complicated and can also have lifestyle implications.

Hence, what customers seek above all is financial empowerment: to feel more in control of their digital exploration journey and ultimately more confident and capable of making the right choices for themselves.

But practically speaking, how can brands deliver this type of financial empowerment?


Helping customers feel financially in control and confident…digitally

One seemingly powerful approach is through guided exploration, which is to design content that helps customers explore their financial needs but within clearly defined boundaries. This can include tactics such as orienting customers towards a specific job or outcome, limiting the number of entry points for customers to explore, providing unobtrusive but logical guardrails, and dividing the purchase journey into manageable tasks that never feel overwhelming.

One recently profiled example comes from Bank of America, which seemingly embraces this method by transitioning away from transactional digital experiences and toward discovery via its website, ‘Better Money Habits’. The brand adopts a “Choose Your Own Adventure” model that lets consumers decide what path they want to explore based on their personal needs. For example, offering an expanded, exploratory path for those who don’t know what they want to buy and another, more direct path for those who know exactly what they want. The brand then fosters the consumer’s sense of capability by orienting that experience toward their specific goals via a short, bite-size survey. The quick, painless nature of these inquiries avoids overwhelming the consumer while providing a personalized customer journey… one that leads to further bite-sized explorations based on their answers.


In sum, there is a real opportunity for retail banks to tap into this growing customer need for greater agency. For retail banks, this means not just designing a good online or product selection experience, but most of all a good exploration experience. This is key to financial empowerment.

Because in a world filled with too much information and choice, what customers really care about is feeling in control…feeling capable …and ultimately, of making the right decisions for themselves. Put simply, the more a brand can help a customer make the right choices for themselves, the more likely that customer will reward the brand that helped them.


To learn more, see Redefining Retail Banking Customer Engagement to Drive Revenue Growth

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