July 8, 2019
Joseph J. Lebel III
Recent studies confirm a fact that most of us know from experience: a growing number of customers now use only digital channels to conduct banking, avoiding brick-and-mortar branches, call centers, and other traditional venues. The percentage of consumers who bank via mobile phones, PCs and tablets rose sharply to 46% in 2018 from 27% only four years ago. Not surprisingly, digital usage is even higher for Millennials, with 82% of 18 to 24-year-old smartphone owners using mobile banking.
As technology transforms banking, as it has so many other personal and business activities, it is dramatically changing what customers expect from their financial institutions. Whether opening a checking account, applying for a loan, managing retirement assets, or conducting any other financial transaction, customers should receive a best-in-class digital experience from their bank.
Delivering a superior digital experience requires financial institutions to innovate non-stop. We must constantly make investments in services and systems to stay ahead of the digital revolution in the marketplace – and remain relevant to our customers’ financial lives. Offering a basic mobile banking product is hardly a competitive advantage for a bank; it’s just table stakes. Any serious digital banking platform must be fully responsive regardless of the user’s computer, tablet or mobile device. Security is paramount, including features such as facial or fingerprint recognition, and increasingly more common, multi-factor authentication. The platform must accommodate the most commonly used remote payment products, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. Ideally, the digital platform also should empower consumers to manage all of their financial relationships, such as mortgages, brokerage accounts and credit cards, even if those accounts are with multiple institutions.
Just as important, a bank’s digital solutions must be delivered by bankers who are conversant in the new technologies, to help customers derive the most value from digital banking services. While Millennials are often described as “digital natives,” born with a smartphone in their hands, not every customer fits that description. At OceanFirst Bank, we often heard from customers who wanted to become digitally adept, but had a few questions about how to get there, such as:
- How do I know if money I sent using Venmo went through?
- I’m trying to set up Apple Pay and don’t understand why it isn’t working, can you help?
- Should I use Popmoney or Zelle to send money to my friend?
Since 2017 OceanFirst has included our proprietary Certified Digital Banker training program as a requirement for retail banking staff. The 7-week program equips employees to educate customers on the use of our digital banking tools (such as our mobile app, online banking, eWallet, money management, and 3rd party payment solutions such as Venmo and Apple Pay) and is designed to maximize the overall user experience.
At OceanFirst we believe customers deserve access to the best digital solutions – supported by our Bank employees who can help users reap the benefits of those solutions. Far from replacing human interaction, digital banking depends on people to make technology work better for more consumers.
Engaging customers in digital banking drives higher satisfaction overall. Most importantly, we have fostered a “digital mindset” among our teammates that will help us continue to deliver excellence in a technologically-enabled, and rapidly changing, banking marketplace.