Navigating the New Norm with Digital Optimization

By Tina Giorgio

tina-giorgio-125pxAs they navigate today’s social distancing climate, community banks are finding new ways to transcend in-person relationship banking to create a similar white glove experience with digital optimization. In determining what this new business-as-usual will look like for your bank, it is important to identify where your customers are now and how their financial needs may change so that you can anticipate and deliver on their future needs.

Customer Communications Triage

Are your call centers besieged with inquiries from worried customers? Whether you are fielding questions regarding loan deferments, how to set up a mobile wallet, or even Paycheck Protection Program eligibility, your website can be an invaluable resource to communicate how your bank is handling the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps you are taking to support customer needs. Consider the following aids to address their concerns, while continuing to deliver on the high-tech, high touch service for which community banks are known.

  • Post frequently asked questions. This avoids frustrating wait times for customers and allows employees more time to focus on more complex requests.
  • Offer Live chats. Customers want fast and convenient communication and live chat can deliver. Be sure to communicate any guidelines about the types of information that should not be communicated.
  • Create video tutorials. Customers who traditionally have not used digital banking services now must rely on them. Prepare short video how-tos on topic such as mobile banking, remote check deposit and online bill payment. One-on-one live video conferencing can also be effective with certain customer segments.

Digital Quick Hits

Most banks have already begun the digital transformation of their product and service offerings, but thanks to COVID-19 their plans may be fast-tracked. In addition to certifying your bank-issued cards for Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, consider accelerating plans to issue contactless cards which may provide additional comfort and convenience for customers seeking limited personal contact with terminal devices. Other quick hits for execution to improve the customer experience include:

  • Re-evaluating rewards options: If you offer a rewards program, consider switching to essential spend rewards like groceries, health and wellness, cash, or even family entertainment services to stream in home.
  • Promoting direct deposit and direct payment: Direct deposits and payments and online bill payments are not new concepts, but you likely have a segment of customers who are not taking advantage of these convenient offerings that can simplify their lives, especially in the current environment.
  • Reviewing limits and deferments: Your bank has probably set limits on things like purchases, daily spend, card not present, cash advances, and remote deposit capture. Review limits on purchases, daily spend, card not present, cash advances and remote deposit transactions to prevent fraud or improve the customer experience. During this time, some of your customers will undoubtedly need financial assistance. Deferments or skip-a-payment requests can be offered a month at a time or longer, at your bank’s discretion.

Teeing Up for the New Business as Usual

While some business will resume branch visits once the current crisis subsides, others may continue to utilize digital ways of interacting with your bank in the future. Are you planning for this reality? If you are not already, think about service options in and out of the branch and consider what tools and skills you will need going forward to enhance the customer experience.

At ICBA Bancard, we have noted a sharp shift to card-not-present online purchasing in the last several weeks. At some point, when we can resume to a more normal way of life, we expect some of that spend will return to card-present transactions.

However, some customers will emerge from this crisis hooked on the convenience of online grocery shopping or meal delivery services. Review your bank’s offerings and identify trends under current operations and consider modeling what future transaction behaviors may look like and how to prepare your fraud rules and your processes to accommodate a new normal.

While this by no means addresses all considerations, hopefully it provides some food for thought as you navigate the new norm and prepare for what lies ahead. I hope you at least found a few items that will be helpful to you and your customers.

While circumstances have forced us all to recalibrate our settings while flying uncharted terrain, these unscheduled adjustments will undoubtedly leave community banks better prepared to serve our customers and communities when the current crisis ends and beyond.

Tina Giorgio is President and CEO of ICBA Bancard.