On a recent trip to New York City, I did some secret shopping of banks. I posed as a customer looking to open a new account with $250,000. I visited banks large and small, including Citibank, Bank of America, Chase, Valley National Bank and TD Bank.
Although banks have become more open and inviting to consumers — in many neighborhoods, it isn’t a prison environment with tellers behind bulletproof glass — I came up with a number of ways to update the banking experience. Some of these require changes to approaches to security, but I think they are necessary for banks to be relevant.
- Ability for bank staff to access Dropbox, email, etc. There are obvious security implications of this, but this is the way millennials work. The primary repository for many documents are in cloud storage. If your bankers don’t have the ability to access Web services, you’re at a disadvantage. I love that my banker at First Republic can do most things over email and Dropbox.
- Web access for certain employees. Although some bank networks are locked down for the lowest common denominator (bank tellers), some people need access to the broader Web. This includes investment advisers and personal bankers.
- Simpler ATMs that allow most of the transaction to be done from the customer’s mobile device.
- Allow customers to enter their data. Although many banks use PIN pads, there is other data that needs to be entered. iPads could allow people to comfortably enter data such as email addresses.
- Bathrooms! In the past, bank transactions were predominantly about quick withdrawals and deposits. Now, more transactions require more time. This includes account opening and investment transactions. When you might be in the bank for 15-20 minutes, bathrooms become more important. In my secret shopping, most banks wouldn’t offer a bathroom. A few did, but it involved going into a backroom.
- Chargers. Just like bathrooms, charging devices are becoming a Big Necessity. In some of my secret shopping, bankers allowed me to use their personal chargers or asked around the bank for one. It’s not expensive to outfit each station with micro USB and lightning charges.
- Better IVR and ASR systems. One of the more frustrating banking experiences is calling a bank, entering the account number and then having to give it again to the rep. These systems need a streamlined user experience with user needs in mind. They shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. For example, if a bank notices that I do all my banking online, I should go straight to a representative. (The chances that I will call for something I can do online are zero.) People who never bank online would be given the full automated system. Segmentation could also be done by asset level, e.g. customers with more than $100,000 go straight to a rep.
- Allow CSRs to follow transactions. For some transactions and events, there is a time delay between a request and a final outcome. Normally, this involves the customer calling back and dealing with someone brand new and re-explaining the situation. Citi lets an agent monitor an account for future follow up. I’m always impressed when the same person calls me back with a resolution.
- Automatic emails for frequent transactions. For example, if a customer requests a late-fee credit, an email is automatically generated stating the amount of the late fee credit and an expected post date. Ideally, these emails will show up before the customer hangs up.
- Data should be shared across platforms. If I start a credit card application online, I should be able to finish on the phone if I have a question.
One thing I noticed that really impressed me: Chase bankers rate other Chase employees. My banker had to call a support line. After he finished, he was presented with a survey to rate the support desk. This kind of feedback is invaluable in weeding out bad employees.