Jeff Judy

Jeff's Thoughts - October 22, 2014

Can You Compete with the Big Banks On-line?

When's the last time you visited your own institution's web site, pretending you were a potential customer looking for information, or an actual customer with a specific action or question in mind? Have you accessed your web site on a mobile phone? Do you know what kind of app you offer to provide mobile banking?

On-line and mobile services for customers matter more than ever. In this year's Banking Industry Outlook survey from KPMG, when bank executives were asked for the "top three drivers of transformation for your business" over the next three to five years, changes in customer demand and preferences came in first (47%), followed closely by coping with change in technology (43%).

And your own experience surely tells you that more and more customers handle more and more of their interactions with you on-line or on their phones. Not providing good service on these platforms simply isn't an option anymore, even for the smallest institutions.

Unfortunately, the big banks are off to a great head start in this area of competition. They have very sophisticated web sites, along with convenient apps that make depositing checks, for example, a snap (literally!) with a smartphone.

Those companies have resources you will never be able to match. But that doesn't mean you cannot compete effectively in this arena. The secret is simplicity and focus. Instead of trying to copy everything the big banks do, identify the activities your customers value most, and make them obvious and easy through on-line and mobile interfaces.

For example, here are a few mistakes and opportunities I see for many web sites:

You have to compete with the big banks in on-line and mobile technology. But "compete" does not mean "copy". Learning from organizations that have a lot more resources than you do is fine. Trying to imitate them with your more limited resources is a losing proposition.

When customers walk into your branch, you are confident that you can deliver a more personal experience than your bigger competition. Figuring out what most of your customers want from your site, most of the time, is the secret to efficiently meeting their needs on-line as well.

Resist the temptation to clutter your site with "warm fuzzies" (or with too many sales pitches). Customers want to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Make that happen for them and you'll easily beat your rivals in the on-line/mobile arena.