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Digital Banking and the Consumer: “It’s Complicated”

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Digital Banking and the Consumer: "It's Complicated"

When outrage and indignation turn to “meh”

We, the digitally savvy customers, stopped hating banking. Not sure when and not sure why but while if anyone shakes us to ask if we love it, we’ll admit it’s a pain the hinny – we don’t actively hate it anymore.

Now of course loving them would be a preferable emotion but in the absence of the positive the negative was still reflecting some type of connection and a hefty amount of expectation and yet that seems to have faded too.

Citizens against bankers sleeping outside – where did that go?

Where are the street protests against the latest Wells Fargo wrong?

More importantly, who’s painting the protest signs demanding digital on-boarding and financial insights?

We seem to have succumbed to believing this is the sum total best we can obtain from our banking experience and that yes, we are expected to remain loyal to it even when we can objectively can see all our other digital experiences are faster, more available and useful and infinitely more pleasant. But is that loyalty or a Stockholm syndrome?

It’s fascinating to meet people who do CX across industries and hear their understanding of terms such as NPS and Loyalty as the gap between their understanding of consumer expectations and what we are privileged enough to have in banking is staggering.

I called it the real Irrational Loyalty it can’t possibly be rational that we stick with an experience that is so far removed from the standard we are used to in other offerings.

Has peak dissatisfaction passed?

A few years back we had protests, we had consumer demands and we had hope in what digital experience in banking was going to bring. It seems to have all but quieted down.

Banks no longer incessantly rehash the customer-centric mantra -presumably in an effort to outline how it has now become part of their every breath- and we no longer demand and expect much of anything.

The percentage of people who declare themselves unsatisfied with the level of service they get from their bank is often lower than what we saw several years ago and that can’t be attributed to better offerings, it is simply a matter of higher tolerance.

We are no longer disappointed because we no longer expect much.

Why is the gap between expectations in technology and expectations in any type of financial service widening, instead of it narrowing?

How come we expect Google to finish our every thought the second we typed the first letter of a search but we never expect to find a transaction in our mobile bank?

How come we get annoyed when Netflix suggests something we don’t instantly enjoy feeling the same way we do when a friend forgets a deep secret we shared but we think normal the extreme degree of aggravation making a simple transfer brings?

How come we install updates to our favourite apps with glee, anticipating the extra level of simplicity and fun with giddy anticipation but put off updates to our banking apps for months or years because we fully expect them to either lock us out entirely or deliver an even more disappointing experience we’ll have to learn a whole new set of work arounds for?

How come we would never dream of waiting for Whatsapp to react for 10 seconds before presuming it’s hanging but patiently give our bank minutes of blank, hypnotised stares at loading screens, willing them silently to reward our patience with displaying a meaningless balance and dreading having to get to this point in the process again should we be foolish enough to restart?

Related: We Can’t Fix Banking If We’re Not Going to Fix Bankers

Personal responsibility

Do we as consumers really tell banks what’s what though? Do we complain, suggest, insist? We really don’t.

How many of us filled in a contact form to report on how many clicks you spent trying to find the contact number? How many of us picked up the phone to tell our banks that having to log in to the online site and dig around 3275 different link before finding our IBAN is ludicrous?

With the lowered expectations comes a higher treshold for the fact that our time and sanity are being sacrificed and we don’t end up saying anything, at least not before we have exhausted all the absurd paths and possibilities we can think of to extract our service out of the clunky digital experience.

We have to take responsibility for this, fellow digital banking customers (and you bankers reading this, you’re a customer as well, you’re not exempt because you understand how hard some things would be to change) – it won’t get better before we moan louder.

Our self-esteem has taken a battering in banking but we can’t allow it to continue. We have to demand our “MoneyMoments™ not Products” and “All-other-apps level emotionally charged experiences” from our bank. Because we’re worth it. Because this relationship needs to get better, healthier, more satisfying and match our general relationship standard with every other piece of technology.

Let’s face it, with every other digital experience we are in a clear relationship status – most that we interact with daily are enthusiastically under “engaged” or “married” and some, the ones that disappointed us, are firmly under the “divorced” category.

It’s only digital banking that needs the sadly all-too-apt “it’s complicated” status and it’s time that changed.  

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