A common dilemma for so many businesses is learning how to provide the best service and experience for their customers while staying ahead of — or adapting to — changes in the industry. This dilemma is even harder when it comes to new technology, which sometimes seems to increasingly change faster than we can adapt.
This problem is understandable, and it affects companies small and large in every industry. In fact, many companies have seen tech companies come in and disrupt their entire industry, like how ride-share companies Uber and Lyft have upended the taxi industry.
Banking and financial services are not immune. Financial technology or “FinTech” companies are beginning to revolutionize the way business is carried out, as well as what customers want and expect. Companies like PayPal and Venmo saw an unmet need — quick and easy person-to-person money transfer — and created a solution.
Although FinTechs were initially seen as a threat to banks, they don’t have to be. Instead, if a business is smart, it will learn from its competitors — especially ones that are up-and-coming or changing the industry — to better understand what customers want and in return provide better services.
The most important thing that should drive your company is the desire for the best customer experience possible. If you use that simple principle as your company’s true north, all other goals, including brand recognition, profit and growth, will follow. That’s what FinTechs are showing banks in this world of new technology: what customers want. FinTech is helping create a solution to a problem, not causing the problem.
My company, Arvest Bank, has gone from being reactive to proactive. Instead of only sitting back and letting FinTech companies pitch to us, wanting to be a part of our “ecosystem,” we’re also reaching out and engaging with potential FinTech companies.
We recently launched a new mobile banking app, Arvest Go. During the design stages, we talked with customers, as well as non-customers, to better understand and deliver the best customer experience. We’ll continue to seek feedback for improvements to the user experience. Companies have to think like a customer and not be constricted by traditional, inside-out thinking. You have to be meeting needs and solving problems. You need to act like a FinTech.
Historically, banks have been inside the branch looking out at customers, assuming they know what customers want or need. Now we’re thinking as a customer looking into our business for a solution to a need, like a mortgage app, which we are currently developing. Why should the fact that someone in need of a mortgage isn’t already a customer stop us from helping? After all, in their eyes, they’re in need of a mortgage, not a bank. But by working with them to secure a mortgage, they get a bank.
FinTechs have taught banks that if we don’t meet the customer’s need in an easy and convenient way, someone else will. It’s a universal lesson all businesses need to read and heed.
As a new generation accustomed to digital simplicity begins to have greater financial needs and current customers begin to adopt new ways of banking, we need to be on the lookout for ways to exceed their expectations.
Ultimately, through providing the best customer experience, banks are helping to make dreams into reality, whether it’s a home for a family to grow or a business to help the community thrive.
That’s why it’s so valuable to partner with FinTechs as well as learn from them. The best FinTechs aren’t trying to take over banking. They’re just trying to make managing your financial life easier.
Editor’s note: Angie Garrett is the executive director of Digital Innovation & Decision Science for Arvest Bank in Bentonville. The opinions expressed are those of the author.