I've just returned from my summer holiday. I mention this not to gloat about my two long weeks basking in the sunshine, but to highlight the enormous changes that have taken place in the consumer’s transactional journey in recent years.
Think about it: today, when we book a holiday we do it all online. We research destinations online. We seek out holidaymakers’ opinions online. We book it online. We even check in online.
Okay, so we haven’t (yet) got robots to handle our baggage, but you get the picture: customer transactions and journeys have been dramatically redefined by technology, and they’ve got simpler, more enjoyable and cheaper as a result.
Those of a certain age will well remember the advertising strapline that promoted the classic cocktail that is Martini: ‘Any time, any place, anywhere’. I mention this not to talk about the tipple I’ll be drinking on my upcoming holidays, but to use it as a reference point for how consumers want to interact and engage with brands, including, of course, banks.
Any time, any place, anywhere: today, smart banks are adopting what I call ‘Martini thinking’ to put the customer at the centre of control in that complicated, layered dynamic that exists between consumer and individual.
Twenty-four/seven, local or global, connected and totally up to date: savers and borrowers seek a smooth, frictionless, enjoyable journey through a bank’s ecosystem. Not an arduous mountain hike, but a relaxing swim – not a four-hour wait at airport check-in, but a breeze through in next to no time.
The transition from physical to digital banking was not without its pitfalls, but it has seen a seismic shift in the way banks do banking, allowing, in turn, customers to do what they want, when they want.
The opportunities for innovation extend far, far beyond basic online banking, too. At Masthaven, for example, we believe we’re the first bank to put the maturity process for our savings accounts entirely online, allowing our customers to self-select what they’d like to do with their money from their desktop or laptop. No sending forms to fill in 10 weeks before maturity and requiring savers to post them back to us. A job that used to take weeks now takes a matter of minutes, thanks to a bit of Martini thinking.
And yet – it’s important to remember that technology won’t solve all our problems. The best banks hit the coveted sweet spot between human and digital, using technology where appropriate, using people when only a human will do – any time, any place, anywhere.
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