How banks and credit unions can humanize the digital experience

In the modern digital-first environment, it can be easy to mistake digital and human as opposites, causing digital experiences to lose the human touch altogether. However, this is a crucial misstep. Community banks and credit unions have always – and will continue to – compete and stand apart due to their empathetic, personalized service and support. However, they must figure out how to make this ethos translate into digital channels. Those institutions that prioritize humanizing the digital experience will carve a competitive advantage.


Incorporating empathy


Humanizing the digital experience requires leading with empathy across the user journey – and across channels. This could be as simple as taking the time and consideration to analyze the language used in an error message. View all aspects of the experience with a person in mind – are you providing the customer with relevant information relayed in a human way, making them feel comfortable and supported? Are there options for real time guidance if questions or issues arise?


Another aspect of humanizing digital is presenting information in a personalized, contextual way. Tailoring experiences reminds the consumer that you know and care about them, that they’re not just another number. After all, money and finances are extremely, innately personal and must be treated with care. This is yet another factor that differentiates community institutions from large national banks. Plus, financial institutions are realizing that they can’t compete on low loan rates or high deposit rates alone. Pricing might be what gets the customer or member in the door, but it won’t be what keeps them there.


However, personalizing interactions at scale is no small feat. Being able to effectively cater interactions hinges on the power and quality of an institution’s data strategy.  


Data at the center


Data is a core factor when it comes to humanizing the digital experience. Strategically analyzing and leveraging data can uncover crucial customer and member behaviors, channel preferences, transactional patterns, and key events in the user’s journey. All of these insights can be used to hyper-personalize interactions and improve customer and member relationships.


While all banks and credit unions have data, most struggle with how to meaningfully consume and leverage it. That’s why more are taking steps to make their data actionable. This includes investing in the cloud-based systems and resources necessary to meaningfully leverage data, establishing baseline metrics, identifying trends and tracking progress and growth. New innovations in AI will also play a key role in making data more actionable, as this technology has the power to more quickly and effectively organize, mine, and analyze vast amounts of available data across the enterprise.  If done correctly, the strategic analysis of data will not only help improve and humanize the user experience but also inform critical business decisions.


The need to accurately personalize interactions is especially prevalent as widespread economic anxieties persist. Customers and members continue to face inflation, high interest rates, a rising cost of living, and, most recently, the resumption of student loan payments. Offering contextually appropriate resources and guidance will be a top priority this year as consumers look to their bank or credit union for support. Such efforts will go a long way in strengthening customer and member trust, which is critical as younger generations – millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha – decide where their loyalty lies.


As the number of digital transactions and touchpoints continue to skyrocket, ensuring a seamless blend of technology and empathy is critical to building long-term, loyal relationships. Banks and credit unions that prioritize finding ways to meaningfully leverage data to humanize digital and create seamless experiences across channels will be able to strengthen customer and member trust and solidify their competitive differentiator. As the economic outlook remains turbulent, those who can provide personalized experiences and relevant, human-centric guidance will be well positioned to better support their communities, retain relevance and succeed.


Erin Wynn is the executive director of product management for digital banking at NCR Voyix, a leading global platform and provider of digital commerce solutions for the retail, restaurant and banking industries. 

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