Spotlight on customer experience and technology: American Banker Digital Banking Conference


If there was ever an ideal time for an industry event focused on digital banking, this is it. The challenges and opportunities presenting themselves today combine to generate strong interest in the trends, technologies and tools banks can optimize to navigate the new normal.

The team behind the recent American Banker Conference on that hot topic, and the speakers who shared insights, deserve a hearty round of applause for the high quality, comprehensive program recently held in Texas. Hosted by American Banker, Executive Editor-Technology, Penny Crosman, and the many reporters – who moderated sessions and offered valuable perspectives and questions, deserve high praise. So, too, do the behind-the-scenes event planners from the digital magazine’s parent company, Arizent, and the nearly 400 presenters.

The “audience of influencers,” and “incubator for insights” promoted in pre-event materials came to fruition. The 3-day event, held mid-June in Austin, included nearly 1,000 industry professionals, the majority being senior executives from banks, credit unions, fintech start-ups, as well as regulators and solution-focused vendors.

The core themes centered on top priorities for navigating uncharted waters amidst a mix of challenges – from customer expectations to economic conditions to emerging technologies.

Tech + Data = > CX

digital 1For banks today, customer experience is everything. Driving that pathway is a winning combination of technology and data. Those digital banking leaders who best leverage the opportunities and challenges in today’s market will be better equipped to answer the needs of a changing financial services landscape.

This point was made crystal clear with the second day’s keynote speaker, Timothy Welsh, Vice Chair, Consumer and Business Banking, U.S. Bank. In his address, “Using Mobile to Personalize Banking,” he drove home the concept that technology should fuel, and enhance human interaction. This is, as I know our team and customers see it, the ultimate strive.

This has become a clarion call for banks of all shapes and sizes to lead, not lag, on CX.

Three essential words for all execs and martech teams: Know the customer. The better you know them, the better you can service them, and deliver to their growing digital needs for a long, strong relationship. The resourceful sessions on all things data – including customer data platforms and personalization, and tapping technology to best connect those dots – were valuable for bank leaders struggling with this new normal.

Helping those leaders find a path forward were two keynote speakers whose messages were both motivating and insightful. My colleague, who also attended, will speak more of this in his summary, but one particular sentiment stood out to me as a welcome to emerging leaders.

Emerging Digital Leaders

On the importance of developing digital leaders, Erik Qualman, a Technology and Digital Leadership Expert, and author of Socialnomics, noted “They are not born, they are made.” With motivational messages and interactive exercises, he encouraged those listening to lean into their strengths, be forward thinking and cutting edge in their approach to today’s opportunities. Additionally, he spoke of the importance of ensuring staff learns the technology. Last but clearly not least important is the need to gain a better understanding of how technology applies to human behavior, in order to improve customer experiences and, as such, results.

digital 3As someone committed to helping bank marketers and their teams leverage technology for success, I found this significant, and applaud his message. Having worked closely with so many of our client partners, I have watched them become digital leaders in their own enterprises. The results are impressive and measurable. After learning the benefits of leveraging technology to automate and improve processes, they contribute to the bank’s success by reducing risk, while personalizing the customer experience for better outcomes all around. Automation plays an enormous part in those success stories, and we enjoy being able to share those.

Tapping Tech to Drive CX

Taking a holistic approach is a win-win, serving both the customer and the institution. Banks who do more to get a holistic picture of who the customer is, what their financial goals are, and how they can tailor products and resources to meet those needs are leading the way. From using data to get a full picture of the customer to stepping up efforts to enhance omnichannel marketing, the best banks are revolutionizing what CX looks like.

Today, leveraging technology is not about whether, but when, and how. It needs to be now.

As we have seen with our own clients, and as speaker after speaker noted during the American Banker Conference, those who improve hyper-personalization and data are best-positioned to tailor their products accordingly, and maintain strength in these challenging times. How? By innovating, automating, and blending in-person and digital services to meet the customer where they are.

In deep dive discussions with high-level executives, all shared a common theme. The emphasis needs to be on focusing holistically on who the customer is, what their financial goals are, how to best support them, and, in doing so, gaining their trust, confidence and loyalty.

The new finserv frontier: Innovating with automation and apps

The methods being that mission are clearly a blend of data, automation, and technology. Innovating and automating are increasingly proving to be the winning combination for banks seeking to survive and thrive amidst unprecedented challenges and digital transformation.

Leveraging technology to personalize the customer experience is a critical cog in the wheel. The platforms purposely-built for highly-regulated industries, like banking, that we provide, also helps automate personalization, while simultaneously reducing risk by reducing errors. The use of automation in banking is what we’ve often referred to as a marketing force multiplier. And the use cases continue to make it clear that the digital banking options customers demand make a compelling case for automating processes in a way that meets their needs and those of regulators. This point was made recently in an executive discussion on the benefits of automation

digital 2The other technology piece I found interesting was on CDP solutions. This ties into personalization, where it is not sufficient any longer to just have a CRM and basic customer information. The CDP platforms are all about having that 360 degree view of the customer, their buying journeys and a heightened level of customer insights. From here, it’s a matter of creating actionable insights for the consumer. So much more focused on data insights which are critically important to that customer experience. Back to knowing the customer. Going deeper than CRMs is a critical step. This was part of the session from Allan Kinney in the session.

Job well done to the panelists who honed in on this fast-emerging and vital component for banks in the session, “Data: Customer Data Platform (CDP) implementations will help banks compete with fintechs and rivals.” Carter Page, an American Banker Technology reporter, did a terrific job moderating the panel, which included: Xenia Lane, SVP, Personalization, Client Experience Platform Director for Truist; Arjun Reddy, Partner, Public Sector Financial Services at Guidehouse; and Alan Kinny, Senior Vice President, Digital CIO, with Comerica Bank.

With a necessary nod to event planners and speakers, I’m a believer that bankers are gaining a firm understanding of the driving force behind digital transformation in banking: the customer. To that end, embracing and leveraging the benefits technology and automation delivers to answer the demands of the day, will continue to be of utmost importance. With well-timed events packed with well-delivered, actionable insights, the industry seems well-positioned to enhance its processes, its compliance, and its customer relationships.

Rod Harris contributed to this article.