Better Support, Not Better Tech, Confounds Banks

  • Philip Ryan
  • August 7, 2015
  • 2

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / vvoennyyHow can banks give their customers the “Simple” experience?

That clean design, contextual messaging, safe-to-spend alerts — isn’t this a massive technological challenge for supposedly backward banks?

Not according to Wade Arnold, managing director at Jack Henry & Associates. Arnold praised Simple’s design and functionality, while noting the account was a fairly simple one — a prepaid card (Arnold’s description) and a well-designed mobile app. “What Simple does really well is the service, the support,” Arnold said. “If you needed help, you got it — those guys were all over Twitter answering customers right away.”

Compare this, he said, to the community bank that may not even have a Twitter account, much less monitor it 24/7.

Arnold’s company Banno was acquired by Jack Henry in early 2014. Arnold now heads up mobile banking for Jack Henry’s much larger customer base.

Competing on service is a mantra for community banks, but not in the way Arnold means. It’s not about knowing who Bob Smith is when he walks in the door, or that his wife is named Jane and they have three golden retrievers. That’s all fine, of course. But what Arnold is describing is connecting with the customer more or less in real time, in any channel, when they reach the limits of self-service.

The current state of banking, Arnold said, is that banks develop beautiful, functional sites like Simple’s, but they’re selling more complex products, and the user can fill out a lovely online form — reach the limits of self-service — and then be faced with a phone number to call or a “Find your nearest branch” option.

The financial services industry should not accept this, Arnold said, and he is making it his mission at Jack Henry over the next 24 months to push, pull, drag the industry — kicking and screaming — away from that.

Instead, banks should shoot for the Amazon experience, he said. Amazon customers are recognized as soon as they visit Amazon through any digital channel, they receive highly relevant offers, the checkout experience is superb, and, crucially for Arnold, everything takes place on the top-level domain, amazon.com.

Jack Henry’s current projects all take this philosophy — keep the customers on the site, and keep it relevant. And Amazon’s security is unparalleled — “There’s sophisticated security behind one-click!” Arnold said. “If your location changes, if it’s a higher-value purchase, you may have to log in again. And so the customer thinks, ‘Well, I’m a little safer.'”

And Amazon excels at support, dealing with customer difficulties instantly. If you want an email, they send you an email. If you want a phone call, they call you. Live chat — check. All right away, right when you want it. This is no small challenge, especially at Amazon’s scale — the convergence of support, sales, and self-service requires more than just the latest technology; it requires organizational innovation, a point frequently made by Ron Shevlin, director of research with Cornerstone Advisors.

Arnold is frustrated that it can still be so difficult for a customer to get a mortgage online at his own bank. “I’d like to challenge every vendor in the space — we’re all competing with each other, but we need to be competing with the broader tech ecosystem.”

Simple and Moven and GoBank may not have won customers away from banks, but they serve as beacons for where the industry can go, Arnold said. As does, of course, Amazon.

“We should all be running that experience down,” he said. “The tech gap will tighten quickly. Three years from now there will be no gap. Simple has an eight-year head start. That’s long enough for the banks to understand what needs to change.”

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Philip Ryan is Associate Editor of Bank Innovation. He worked as a web developer for the Fund for the City of New York for six years, and was an HTML developer at Ocean-7 Development back in the go-go ’90s. He has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism. He can be reached at pryanrmg1@gmail.com.

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2 thoughts on “Better Support, Not Better Tech, Confounds Banks

  1. True, Amazon has been the benchmark when it comes to efficient and effective online business. Its APIs are well accomplished for wider and richer user experience. Most organization tends to follow Amazon online prowess.
    So far, we have enough APIs or applications emerging as time advances and hence there arise technical up-gradation within various organization to register their presence in the race. But there are many, that has taken various roles in various fields, and it may become cumbersome if its not managed across. Once its managed, then simplicity can also be achievable without compromising upon new trends. See more at http://blog.nexright.com/category/api-management-banking/. And also visit http://nexright.com/ to get your queries answered.

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