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Agility, Alignment, Analysis: The Future Of Banking Experiences

Customer experience innovation goes beyond providing digital services—it’s about the way banks deliver those services. Innovation expert Dave Wright digs into what’s next for financial service success.

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Do you remember the first time you deposited a check using your phone? It was pretty cool, right? A legitimate innovation—one centered on the convenience of the customer.

Today, we hop on our banking app to send money to a friend and can request a loan in just a few clicks. And it’s not just for Millennials or Gen Z. The pandemic compelled people of all ages to become more comfortable with digital banking as physical bank branches closed and virtual options became essential.  

To keep pace with changing technology, market shifts, and consumer preferences, banks must innovate fast. Mobile banking, for example, was considered a dramatic innovation a decade ago. Today, it’s table stakes. What constitutes an “excellent” customer experience is a constantly moving target. 

360-degree digitization

To create truly differentiated experiences, banking leaders must evaluate the entirety of the customer journey. 

What happens after someone applies for a credit card or loan online? How long does it take to fulfill their request? Are their questions being answered quickly and clearly? It’s not enough to simply digitize services; the processes behind those services must be digitized and unified. 

While it may not sound customer-centric on the surface, digital transformation is key to enabling a more “human” touch in our banking experiences. To achieve 360-degree digitization, financial leaders need to turn their attention and investments to the three “As” of improved customer experiences: agility, alignment, and analytics. 


The pandemic proved that agility is everything.

When New Zealand had a nationwide lockdown,  Kiwibank  needed a way to answer customers’ requests about standard issues like overdrafts and payment arrangements. Within four days, they replaced the spreadsheets and emails customer service typically used with digital workflows, making it possible to respond quickly to questions and redeploy staff from closed branches to help manage online queries.  

Kiwibank is a great example of a growing truism: Banks are only as agile as the IT infrastructure and processes that support their day-to-day operations. 

Most incumbent banks have highly complex operating environments with a web of disconnected systems running day-to-day operations. And employees rely on manual processes—like spreadsheets and email—to move work along. It’s an inefficient way to work, and ultimately, customers feel the impact. 

It makes sense that the latest EY/IIF Global Bank Risk Management Survey found 60% of financial institution CROs rank IT obsolescence/legacy systems as one of the most important risks they face over the next five years. That’s why more banks are turning to cloud-based platforms to unify disparate systems and processes, making it easier to respond to an environment of constant change.


Customers want consistency from their banks. 

In fact, one in five banking customers who were considering a switch away from their primary bank said they would prefer a more consistent experience across channels, according to Deloitte Insights research. The problem is that banks have relied on processes that serve very function-specific purposes for decades. 

These processes are designed to help teams, like customer service or compliance, achieve specific tasks—and they are tweaked over time as teams perfect their role in fulfilling a customer’s request. But this approach makes it difficult to understand the end-to-end experience for customers or correct inconsistencies in the way they are served. 

When banks digitize processes, like a new credit card application, they can better control the consistency and quality of the entire customer experience—from the moment they apply for the card to the moment they activate it. Team members across different functional areas can see in real time what’s happening with a customer—wherever they are in their journey—and receive automatic prompts on the appropriate steps to take at the right time.  


Delivering personalized service is key to retaining and growing customer relationships. But to do so, the way banks process and analyze data needs to be rethought. 

Because customer data is housed across so many different parts of the business, it can be difficult to cross-sell or customize services. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are unleashing new ways for banks to analyze customer data across their enterprise. 

AI can rapidly aggregate information from across different systems of record to help employees deliver a more personalized touch. McKinsey research reported that AI will potentially unlock $1 trillion of incremental value for banks annually.  

AI will also play an increasingly important role in helping banks anticipate customer needs. For example, ServiceNow worked with a company that integrates healthcare into wealth planning to help their advisors have more personalized conversations with their clients. They digitized the client discovery process, then used AI to suggest logical next steps based on a client’s questionnaire responses and key stress points, such as an unexpected health event.  

The use of technology and data will continue to raise the bar for the financial services industry. When digital transformation extends throughout every iota of the experience, banks will become more efficient, connected, and customer-centric—and this will drive the next wave of genuine innovation.

Dave Wright is ServiceNow's chief innovation officer and acts as an evangelist for how to improve workplace productivity. He has worked with thousands of organizations to implement technologies thatcan create efficiencies, streamline business processes, and reduce costs. Before joining ServiceNow in 2011, Wright spent more than six years with VMware, Inc. as vice president of technical services for EMEA. From 2003 to 2005, Wright headed up the technical division for Northern and Southern Europe at Mercury Interactive. Prior to that he spent six years at Peregrine Systems, Inc., where he held a variety of senior technical and marketing positions.

This article was originally published on ServiceNow's Forbes BrandVoice.