How can retail banking and financial services brands better reach millennials and today's digital consumer? Read on for our insights on how to improve your customer experience across digital channels and at brick-and-mortar branches.
How retail banking brands can improve customer experience
These are challenging times to
be a retail banker. Perhaps the
following rings true.
You’ve weathered the meltdown of 2008
–2009, but consumer trust in financial institutions
You’ve invested in technology, but digital
start-ups are continually nudging into your traditional
banking spaces, unleashing wave after wave of
enticing new products and services. With 78% of
consumers saying they would bank with a tech firm
like Google, it’s difficult to know who your
competitors will be, let alone how to beat them.
You’ve attempted to attract Millennials to
your offering, but the results haven’t been spectacular.
These crucial consumers remain elusive and seem to
have ever-higher, ever-shifting expectations.
Challenging times indeed. But therein lies bountiful
opportunities. Opportunities to re-focus, change
gears, find partners and connect with new and
existing customers in ways that elevate their experi-
ence of what banking can and should be. The kind
of extraordinary experience that creates loyal fans,
engaged employees and thriving revenue streams.
Read on to know what we’re seeing and exploring
with our financial services clients around the globe.
Contributors: Jon Paul Potts, Nic Dahl, Mary Koerner & Peter Sun
Growing your business requires winning
over Millennials – the largest demographic
cohort in American history and comprising about
2 billion people worldwide. This generation,
born between 1981 and 1997, are now the adults
disrupting every industry, including banking.
These always-online digital natives grew up expect-
ing instant answers to their every need. Smart banks
have responded with mobile solutions that deliver
24/7. More than half of Millennials are completely
or mostly reliant on a mobile banking app and 43%
of Millennials have signed up for SMS alerts from
However, even as their financial needs grow more
complex – with marriages, children, and home
purchases entering the picture – Millennials do not
accept having to navigate complexity with their
actual banking experience. Fast, paperless and
easy are their baseline requirements.
No matter the task, their refrain
is the same: Why can’t I do
this on my smartphone?
Creating a different
kind of bank for Millennials
Increasingly, Millennials can and do
more — via non-traditional financial
• Rocket Mortgage from Quicken Loans lets a
customer complete an entire mortgage applica-
tion in minutes online via an app that accepts
smartphone photos of documentation.
• Peer-to-peer payments happen via Venmo,
PayPal, Square and even Facebook Messenger,
bringing together social media and banking.
• Student loan refinancing as well as personal
loans and mortgages are on offer with SoFi,
which dubs itself “a modern finance company”
– not a bank.
So where do these fresh takes on pe-
rennial financial service needs come
Companies with cultures devoted to
constant innovation and ruthless
As retail bankers, you must up your innovation game
across your organization if you want to capture and
keep the hearts and minds of Millennials.
It can be done. We’ve seen banks transform their
results by committing to a culture that rewards efforts
at simplifying every aspect of the business –making it
easier, faster and more enjoyable to use, online and
As this generational shift has unleashed these huge
technological changes and concomitant competition,
some brick-and-mortar banking powerhouses
have recently decided to join forces with
fintech rather than compete with them. For example:
• JP Morgan Chase partnered with On Deck Capi-
tal to offer new small business lending solutions.
• Bank of America works with Cardlytics, a
company with access to 120 million consumers’
shopping information, to offer BankAmeriDeals
– personalized discounts based on a customer’s
These partnerships benefit both sides.
Retail banks are leveraging fintech’s nimbleness
and qualities that attract younger and/or previously
“unbanked” consumers, while fintech gains instant
scalability based on banks’ customer base and
Finding an aligned partner can be a way
to kick-start needed changes to your
services without having to reinvent your
entire approach in one go.
You must still work to cultivate a culture of simplicity
and innovation, but it’s an easier transition when
there are agile role models from fintech within your
Partnering with fintech pays
Now, as much as digital-based banking grabs head-
lines, most customers still love their traditional branch.
In fact, easy access to a brick-and-
mortar branch is the third most
important driver of brand loyalty
in retail banking.
And nearly 60% of traditional
banking products are still being
sold in branches.
The big questions are:
• What kind of differentiating experience are
you providing when customers visit?
• Does every employee understand her/his role
in providing that optimal experience?
• Do your people and your banking technology
complement each other?
• Do frontline staffers have the knowledge (and
management’s encouragement) to deliver
what individual customers need?
Energizing branch evolution
via engaged employees
More and more banks are prioritizing
employee engagement to fuel a
• Umpqua Bank – With 350 branches in the west-
ern United States, Umpqua is routinely lauded
as an exemplar of retail banking done right.
Umpqua recruits people based on how well
they represent its customer service ethos, and
hires those who can be branch “generalists” –
capable of discussing an array of products and
services as well as troubleshooting the banking
app. Knowledge, niceness and digital skills are
key to connecting with modern customers, espe-
• Commonwealth Bank of Australia – A multi-
national with branches across Australia, New
Zealand, Asia, the UK and USA – repeatedly
achieves employee-satisfaction rates topping
80% among its 52,000 staff by engaging em-
ployees around a unifying mission for customer
satisfaction, diversity and inclusion. The team has
innovated its way to becoming Australia’s largest
mortgage lender and continues to expand their
goals to more markets and product categories.
• Shinhan Bank – South Korea’s largest retail
bank attracted over 400,000 new customers in
2016, while growing retail deposits by 7.7%
and retail assets by 8.7%. How? By using data
analytics to refine its customer segmentation pro-
gram by occupations and life-stage groups, and
then empowering employees to super-serve these
customers’ distinctive needs.
Tomorrow’s market leaders will be
those who seamlessly bring both
technology and talented people to the
A recent Accenture study of
• 64% say it’s important for branches to have
systems (tablets, screens) where they can
access their online account while interacting
with bank staff.
• 66% say it’s important to have advanced ATMs
in branches – machines that can help them open
accounts, start loans, pay bills, even print a new
plastic debit card – with capable staff nearby to
assist if needed.
Now’s the time to take a hard look at
improving your brand’s branch experi-
ence from every angle.
Because when it comes to today’s sophisticated con-
sumers, every touch-point matters and any disappoint-
ment can send them “swiping left” on your brand.
Companies like Amazon and Netflix have raised
consumer expectations by providing seamless,
personalized and enjoyable brand experiences.
Now every player in nearly every industry
has to be as good (or better) at delivering
hassle-free and entertaining customer
journeys, including banking.
Some banks are responding with advanced commu-
nication services, like being able to text a customer
service center or video chat with a relationship
banker. Others are exploring new possibilities in
gamification and Augmented Reality (AR).
According to a 2016 study by Citi in the United
States, the AR headset market will achieve explosive
growth in the next 5 to10 years, with much of that
growth happening at the expense of the smartphone
market. How AR’s penetration will transform com-
merce as well as entertainment is an open question.
What’s not up for debate is the need
to pay attention and prepare for the
shift before it happens.
If recent history is any guide, first-movers often
lock in market share and remain ahead
of the pack for years. You want to be ready
– not playing catch up – when it comes to using the
same technologies your customers are.
Staying in step with
the savvy customer
We started this discussion by noting the uphill climb
retail bankers have had in restoring consumer trust
in financial institutions since the 2008–2009 crisis.
In a 2016 Gallup Poll of Americans, 30% said they
would rate the honesty and ethical standards of bank-
ers as “very low/low.”
Trust is no longer a given; it must be
earned – or earned back. The good news is,
bankers have an opportunity to adopt the practices
of a much more esteemed profession, teaching; and
thereby demonstrate good will and a spirit worthy of
Innumeracy, or mathematical illiteracy,
is rampant among consumers, including
those with college degrees. Many people
have never been taught basic financial principles,
or understand how to navigate the endless choices
available for everything from a savings account to a
reverse mortgage during one’s retirement.
Who better than a local bank to help de-
mystify finance and teach customers how
to reach their goals?
North American TD Bank has a growing commitment
to providing financial literacy education to children
and adults, regardless of whether they’re current
customers yet. Among their programs are:
• K-12 personal finance for students – classroom
lessons taught by TD Bank instructors.
• Small business workshops – helping entrepre-
neurs learn about preparing a business plan,
perform cash flow analysis among other topics
as well as matching them with a mentor through
a partnership with SCORE (Service Corps of
Retired Executives Association).
• General education seminars – spanning crucial
topics such as building and maintaining great
credit, protecting one’s identity from theft and
breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
What can your bank teach your
community? How can your bank-
ers become the go-to teachers and
coaches that customers need?
Extending a helping hand and showing people how
to improve their lives can only chip away at distrust,
and replace it with a valuable, expanding relationship.
(and brand loyalty)
The challenges facing retail banking won’t disappear
by ignoring them. As we’ve seen, smart bankers are
committing to elevating their brand experience in
Engaging employees to take ownership of their
business as a unified force, energized by a culture of
innovation and simplicity.
Optimizing the customer experience across
every channel and interaction – providing a friction-
less, easy, fast and pleasing journey with consistency
Integrating technology and partnering with
fintech wherever it supports the mission of superior
products and service to customers.
Building trust through the free exchange of infor-
mation and instruction to help customers drive their
own financial destiny.
And being ever-attentive to preparing for the
next wave of change that’s coming, because there
will be more, and then more again.
We at Jack Morton have learned to thrive in this per-
petual motion machine that is 21st century business.
The secret? Keep moving.
Let’s start a conversation about how to move your re-
tail bank toward an extraordinary brand experience
and ever-greater success.
Contact Peter Sun
VP, Brand Marketing