In Financial Services, No Two Tools are the Same

Many financial services firms have successfully incorporated digital tools to enhance the client experience, gain efficiency, and achieve cost savings. A good example is depositing checks on a smartphone. It offers easy access for the client, minimizes human error, and reduces processing paper. However, not all financial services technology solutions are created equal, particularly as firms look to deliver more humanized end-to-end experiences with digital tools and platforms. In fact, we have found that there are varying degrees of acceptance and use cases when clients interact with digital tools. Often, device usage varies based on the amount of time that the client needs to engage:

  • Mobile. Clients are more prone to use mobile tools to conduct activities that are shorter, more intuitive, and transactional in nature such as checking balances, depositing funds, and paying bills.
  • Tablet/Desktop. When the activities become more difficult, time-consuming, and if there is a greater potential personal risk, the client often migrates to his or her desktop computer. Researching charges, looking for financing options, and finding other products and services are some of these activities.
  • Human Interaction. As the situation gets more complex and more personal, there can be a greater need to obtain human advice—or at least validation. When clients consult with their institution, there’s a heightened expectation that the organization will offer a value-added experience, and help them solve challenges that cannot be addressed with self-service tools.

Let’s put this into practice. A great example of a high-stakes personal situation is when clients invest money using digital advice. This service was initially created in the fintech space. It was a way to service clients without advisors and disintermediate those who did have a personal advisor. Many legacy institutions quickly followed with a “robo” offering to grow assets under management, retain clients, and to address potential regulatory issues—but many clients did not come. Firms then tried to add people remotely to help answer questions; some more came but adoption was still low.

The industry is learning a key lesson: digital advice does not sell itself. For the client, this is not a transaction or a research opportunity. For many, it is retirement savings, a child’s college fund, or money set aside to start a business. It’s filled with the emotion, ambition, and hope that this money will help them achieve personal aspirations. Digital advice is one offering in an end-to-end relationship and not a standalone product. Recognizing this reality, the industry must begin to humanize the experience to help clients make decisions.

Here are a few of the key considerations for firms as they look to humanize the experiences they provide, blending both digital and human touchpoints.

  1. Understand your starting point. Define the client need by finding ways to uncover differentiated information. This is where data & analytics (D&A) in combination with ongoing human-centered research and insights can play an important role in helping firms paint a holistic picture of their clients.
  2. Design the approach. Looking beyond numbers and demographics, think about the things that clients value on an emotional and personal level. Then ideate on the strategies that can best help tap into clients’ values and what matters to them—using this knowledge to help identify opportunities for growth and connection.
  3. Deliver value. By reorienting their focus, firms will maximize the portfolios of current clients, demonstrate capabilities and expertise to future clients, and grow company ROI—all while establishing a differentiated position as a change leader in the industry.

As technologies such as AI and automation become increasingly mainstream, firms will continue to find ways to service clients through digital means. However, it is important to remember that digital alone isn’t the answer. In the words of Steve Jobs: “You've got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology—not the other way around.” It’s never been more critical that financial services firms operate by this principle.

Click here to see our latest video on this topic, “Making Advisory More Human.”

For insight into how financial services firms can apply behavioral segmentation to deliver more human experiences, click here.