Questions to Ask Financial Services IT Teams About Digital Customer Satisfaction

Editor’s Note: From secure data management and effective product cross-selling to individual communication preferences, customer satisfaction in the financial services world is now digitally driven. The key to avoiding the pitfalls of outdated software and platforms is to assess the situation with your IT specialists and identify opportunities where new technologies can help. 

Summary: Expectations for convenience and remote access are redefining the relationship customers have with their financial institutions. Banks and credit unions that cling to legacy infrastructures will be left behind as advanced technology becomes the norm. 

Traditional financial institutions that rely on legacy core banking platforms to house their customer information and transaction data are facing stiff headwinds. While more agile organizations pivot to innovation and growth, others are caught flat-footed due to silos and rigidity inherent to outdated platforms. This lack of flexibility leaves some banks and credit unions unable to adapt quickly to changing customer preferences and behavior. 

As the head of retail, commercial or marketing, do you have a full grasp of your financial institution’s core software’s capabilities and limitations? If not, here are some questions you should ask your IT leaders.

1. Is our core software set up for Fintech innovation and integration?

There has been an explosion of transformational Fintech services in recent years. For example, Step is a youth-focused financial institution that offers bankers under 18 an FDIC-insured account and a secured spending card to allow them to start building credit. Step’s platform goes a step further by also featuring a peer-to-peer payment function. Accessing new markets and offering peer-to-peer payment represents a lot of innovation in a single package, so it’s no wonder the company has been successful in gaining both users and investment funding.  
“We are not a teen bank. We’re a banking platform and hopefully a brand for the next generation,” Step founder and CEO CJ MacDonald said. As a leader of your institution, this is the type of novel thinking that you need to be able to support with your core software. If you can’t provide these types of products directly, then you should look for ways to make it easy for customers to integrate those products with what you do offer. Talk to IT to understand if your core software is capable of leveraging partners like Step.

Ask IT: 

  • How can our bank or credit union help customers access their accounts at other financial institutions? 
  • How can we enhance our products or offer new services to compete with emerging Fintech? 

2. Does our communication software meet employee needs?

If you want to get in touch with someone, what do you do? Do you prefer to call, email or text? Not everyone has the same communication preferences, and that’s something you should account for when it comes to the ways your employees collaborate.  
The easier and more natural your communications platform is to use, the better positioned your employees will be to leverage it to help your customers. You want software that allows for the efficient and secure flow of information and assistance both internally and externally, from your core banking platform all the way to customer communications. Look for a platform that offers video, voice, text, email and more, accessible from any device and any location. Also make sure to consider your physical branch capabilities, too. Ideally, communication capabilities should be universal and consistent across your locations.  
The most efficient way to achieve this level of seamless communication and collaboration is through a unified communications platform. These platforms offer access from anywhere, providing key capabilities for on-site, remote and mobile employees. Strong built-in encryption helps balance accessibility with the necessary security. 

Ask IT: 

  • What functionality does our current communications solution provide?  
  • Are our physical branches equipped for video conferencing, web chat and text messaging with customers?  

3. How well does our call center improve the customer experience (CX)? 

Closely related to the previous question, you need to ask your IT team about the features of your call center solution (CCS), and what your institution offers to best serve and satisfy customers when they reach out for assistance. Features such as queue routing, active monitoring, advanced agent settings, thresholds and on-hold marketing can all contribute to higher customer satisfaction. If your existing CX solution doesn’t provide features like these, it could be time to consider an upgrade to a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platform that does offer those key features.  
One of the cornerstones of good customer service is simple availability. With a higher percentage of customers looking for alternative forms of communication, it’s essential to reduce network downtime so you can be there when and where your customers need you. Windstream Enterprise recently worked on this very issue with the Public Service Credit Union of Wayne County, Michigan. In that case, Chief Information Officer Angelo Fanaras was looking for 100% network uptime to efficiently serve customers.  
“We always want to be on the cutting edge of technology and really push the envelope, so we can offer the best services,” Fanaras said. In order to succeed in the modern banking world, you should ask your IT team if your organization is capable of doing the same."

Ask IT: 

  • What features does our CCS provide that are focused on customer satisfaction? 
  • How close are we to 100% customer service availability and network uptime?  
  • Do we have the real-time statistics we need to understand perception vs. reality? 

4. What level of visibility and control does our system provide?

Adapting new technologies is only part of what’s required to make digital transformation work for your financial institution. You also ensure that your business and IT leaders have visibility into how the new technologies are functioning. Otherwise, your exciting improvements could be held back by poor network performance or other infrastructure issues.  

Adding additional technologies and features won’t help customer satisfaction if they can’t perform well.

Today, essential network information and functions can be accessed from convenient web-based platforms. These platforms can provide “full visibility and co-management to run an entire network in real-time—from a single pane of glass—from virtually anywhere and any device,” as Windstream Enterprise’s Mike Frane said in an article discussing rising network and security demands.  
Adding additional technologies and features won’t help customer satisfaction if they can’t perform well. Ask your IT team for a frank assessment of your infrastructure, and what tools they have to monitor that infrastructure in real-time. 

Ask IT: 

  • Do employees report delays or problems accessing key software? 
  • Can reports provide detail about performance in applications, network access and devices? 

5. Are we getting the most out of remote work?  

Today, teleworking includes both back office and customer-facing employees. Everyone needs to be able to securely access essential applications no matter where they’re spending their work days. For customer-facing bankers, remote access to core software services like account opening and loan applications will increase their closing effectiveness on business calls. Work with your IT team to reduce how often your employees need to say, “That’ll have to wait until I’m physically in the office.”  
Working remotely also opens up additional security concerns. As Mike Frane put it, “A fluid hybrid work environment means more points of access into the network that need protection.” Speak to your IT teams about the security of your network, and how well equipped your organization is to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Ask IT: 

  • Can remote employees securely access all work-related applications?  
  • Are we doing enough to maintain security with expanded remote work?  
  • How easily can we scale our systems to add more users?  

6. What are our ongoing technology and maintenance costs?

Managing mission-critical applications on an overwhelmed legacy network is already hard enough. What happens when you want to add applications to improve business performance? What about the costs associated with off-site storage and access of customer and account data?  

Cloud-based solutions tend to be more flexible and often lower-cost than physical or local alternatives.

In the rush to join the digital evolution of the finance industry, it’s too easy for organizations to lose track of the long-term costs they may be adding to their ledgers. This is one of the reasons that cloud-based solutions are so appealing, as they tend to be more flexible and often lower-cost than physical or local alternatives.  

Ask IT: 

  • What are the costs associated with our current technology and infrastructure? How have those costs changed over the past year? 
  • Are there ways we can reduce costs or maintenance requirements by shifting things to the cloud? 

With the Fintech and business application explosion, the possibilities for innovation and improved business outcomes are more plentiful than ever. Is your bank or credit union positioned to take advantage of these solutions? Better ask IT. 

Learn how Windstream Enterprise provides agile technology solutions that can help you meet growing customer expectations.

Key takeaway: When it comes to customer satisfaction in financial institutions, a warm greeting and friendly smile in the branch have been replaced by 24/7 online availability, instant access to information and seamlessly-integrated platforms. Use these questions to connect with your IT team and assess systems to make sure you’re equipped to deliver

About the Author

Bucky Porter

Bucky has more than 20 years of banking experience in roles such as regional branch leadership, technology consultant, and senior lending officer. He has worked with community, regional and national banks. His diverse background makes him a credible thought leader and voice of the financial services industry within Windstream Enterprise. Prior to being a Financial Services Industry Analyst at Windstream Enterprise, Bucky most recently led a large branch network, built the bank’s small business banking sales strategy and worked on cross-functional marketing and product development projects at Simmons Bank, a $23 billion regional institution. Bucky is a graduate of the CBA Executive Banking School.

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