Should banks be working to make customers’ lives simpler?

With so much innovation and competition happening in financial services right now, it’s easy to think that the industry is becoming more and more complex.

Looking at the situation from the consumer’s perspective, is this necessarily a good thing? Expanding choice and competition is obviously a positive trend for customers, but there is a strong case to be made that most people want their financial situations to be as simple and straightforward as possible.

For providers looking for new ways to engage with their customers and build positive relationships, simplicity could be a key guiding principle.

Empowering consumers through simplicity

One institution that has recognized the value of simplicity is Wells Fargo, which recently announced a new digital banking experience designed to give customers a unified view of their “fragmented financial lives” – Control Tower.

The aim of this service is to let users see their “digital financial footprint”. Scheduled for public launch in 2018 following a pilot with Wells Fargo staff, it will show customers all the places where their card or account information is connected, such as recurring payments, third-party services, mobile wallets, devices and subscriptions. It will also give users the power to control when and where their financial information is shared, via a simple ‘on/off’ function.

Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo president and chief executive officer, said: “Customers currently have their payment information stored in numerous places online. If you lose a card or want to update a billing address, you’re expected to go on a journey of self-discovery to remember all the different places your financial information is stored, which can be time-consuming and complex.

“Wells Fargo is re-imagining the future of personal finance to deliver an experience that is secure and convenient and provides customers a central hub for better control, simplicity and transparency.”

This focus on simplicity and unification in consumer banking has been evident in other markets around the world, including in the Middle East. Oman Arab Bank recently announced a single digital banking platform with a simplified interface spanning various channels, including online, ATMs and mobile.

Do your customers crave simplicity?

There are big benefits to be gained from engaging with your customers to find out if simplicity is one of the things that is particularly important to them in their financial affairs. This could help to improve your relationship with consumers and enhance the overall customer experience, as well as delivering potential efficiency and cost-saving advantages for the business.

It has been suggested that simplicity is a particularly important concept for younger people and millennials. Colin Walsh, CEO and co-founder of Varo Money, a mobile banking platform designed specifically for this generation of customers, told Venture Beat that one of the common problems in financial services is consumers receiving “very complex products that are pushed through sales channels by people more motivated by their sales incentive than the customer’s financial income”.

Referring specifically to the US market, Mr Walsh claimed that most customers take a “hands-off” approach to their money. “They just want to live their lives,” he said. “They don’t want to worry about their money.”

Placing an emphasis on simplicity could also help financial institutions to support and engage with older customers, some of whom may have concerns that, amidst the rush towards digital transformation and tech growth, their basic interests are being overlooked.

Making this sort of effort to empathize with all demographics – not just those who are ready to embrace change and new ways of managing their money – could have a big impact on customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.


Image credit: iStock/Kerkez

Written by Glenn Tom

Glenn Tom

Glenn Tom is NCR’s Senior Director of Global Solutions Marketing. In this position, he is responsible for leading global marketing efforts for all of the division’s consumer- and FI-facing solutions, including digital banking, branch, ATM hardware and software, channel management, payments & transaction processing and enterprise fraud & security. Prior to joining NCR and Digital Insight in 2008, Glenn previously held marketing and general management positions at Intuit, Morgan Stanley, Citibank and American Express. Glenn has a BA in Liberal Arts from Claremont McKenna College, a BS in Industrial Engineering from USC and an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Read more articles from Glenn Tom