Consumerize your customer experience

Zviki Ben Ishay

With the significant amounts of ink and dollars being spilled on digital transformation, especially over the last two years, many banks still aren’t seeing the ROI promised to them. Many are asking: Is “digital” just a pipe dream to sell tech or can it actually deliver? 

The problem often comes down to a common mistake of repurposing business-to-business solutions for consumer-facing banking rather than offering a consumer-first experience. The reality is that fully “consumerizing” customer-facing tech is often the key to a realizing successful, ROI-positive digital investment for banks.

What works for B2B won’t work for consumers

Over the past decade, digital transformation has become a top priority for banks. But unlike companies that were built from the ground up to cater to modern consumers’ preferences, banks have far more traditional roots. As a result, banks’ digital platforms still have a veneer of the old, slow way of doing business: They’re a big improvement from the fax-dependent world of yesteryear, but they’re no Amazon. 

Banks are aware that their ingrained procedures and concerns about regulation have held them back. To combat this, many institutions have already invested significant efforts in modernizing their systems. They feel like they’ve been “doing” digital. But with new technologies surfacing daily, there always seems to be more to do, that something is missing. 

Why is it that the more we invest in digital, the more we have to do?

Ultimately, banks haven’t fully departed from their traditional roots. Pen and paper have been replaced by PDFs for signing. Email has replaced snail mail. Mobile apps have (largely) replaced mandatory branch visits.

Despite these improvements, onboarding, servicing and loan originations still take far too long to complete, with too many bumps in the road.

Just imagine the all-too-familiar experience where a customer wants to open a new account online. They fill out online forms and hit submit — only to receive an email stating that they must come to a physical branch location to sign papers. Or an agent tries to send an email to a customer with important information about their account — only to have it wind up in the spam folder.

While such digital half-measures may be acceptable in the world of B2B interactions, where cycle times are expected to take longer, they are not acceptable to modern consumers. Today’s banking consumers expect to be able to open an account, update their address or apply for a loan anytime and anywhere. Unlike a businessperson, who can wait to get to a computer to digitally fill out a PDF, a consumer wants to easily interact right now, even if they’re not in front of a desktop computer. 

According to one survey, 28 percent of bank customers have experienced difficulty even just opening an account online. At certain banks, that number can reach up to 65 percent (Bank of New York customers) and 47 percent (U.S. Bank customers). Today’s banks may incorporate technology, but it’s clearly not at the level of the B2C brands consumers are used to. 

What’s needed to consumerize banks?

It’s not enough to merely digitize aspects of customers’ journeys. Banks need to provide a smooth and coherent flow straight to the end. Just like a dropped ball in the end zone negates any of the wins beforehand, a great customer experience doesn’t matter if businesses botch the final transaction. Getting to completion in a single online channel — whether it’s onboarding, a servicing issue or loan application — is where banks need to direct their efforts. 

Here are a few principals to keep in mind to ensure the bank acts as the agile, customer-obsessed B2C institutions they’re meant to be.

  1. Be Automated: Eliminate painful, costly human steps that devalue customer and agent time. 
  2. Be Secure: Reassure customers that the transaction they are about to complete is fully secure and takes every measure to protect their privacy.
  3. Be Human: Combine cutting-edge customer-facing technology with the human touch. Remote, agent-guided interactions eliminate the branch visit while ensuring tasks are completed in real time.
  4. Be Real-Time/Mobile-First: Allow customers to complete transactions from any location in the moment. Preference text message and chat over email.
  5. Be Compliant: Improve compliance while simultaneously boosting efficiencies. 

The bottom line

By adopting customer-facing technology that’s instant and mobile, bank customers can interact with their financial institutions with greater efficiency and ease. Unlike businesses, individuals expect to complete banking tasks in one shot, from one channel. After all, they’ve been spoiled by the likes of Amazon and Netflix. It’s time for them to be spoiled by their banks, too.


Zviki Ben Ishay is the CEO and cofounder of Lightico, a SaaS platform that empowers businesses to accelerate their customer journeys through automated workflows for finance, insurance and other B2C businesses.