When it comes to making payments, consumers care about the experience. They use person-to-person payments because it’s fast and convenient. They'd be more likely to sign up for auto-pay if they could do it online. They like mobile banking and they are interested in a variety of improvements that provide faster access to information and even more control over cards and accounts. Understanding the importance of experience is key for any financial organization that wants to deepen customer relationships and assume a leadership position in the payments space.
Consumers expect financial institutions to understand the way they live and work today. They expect financial institutions to know them, anticipate their needs and to look out for their interests. Customers want choices, access to multiple channels, and security. All of this, and they want their financial institution to sort out the complexity and make payments simple for them. Deciding where to start is key as financial institutions are tasked with quickly responding to trends, offering new products and continue delivering excellent service. Because payment capabilities tend to influence the overall customer relationship, they are a good place to begin to improve the experience.
Here are four steps to kick off a better payments experience:
1) Improve notifications Consumers want more actionable information, including payment-related notifications tailored to their preferences. Findings from the 2017 Expectations & Experiences: Household Finances consumer trends survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Fiserv show the growing importance of offering advanced alerting options to the latest generations of banking customers. Millennials (ages 18–37) are more than twice as likely as older generations to track the money they spend using banking alerts (36 per cent vs. 17 per cent). Millennials are also more likely to find it helpful to receive information about bills due and balances via alerts.
2) Enhance choice Customers demand choice when it comes to how they receive bills, but keeping up with changing preferences can be challenging. Whether it’s a mix of paper and electronic statements or an increase in mobile tracking tools, consumers continue to rely on whatever makes sense to get the job done. The tools favoured by consumers are the ones that offer convenience, consolidation and real-time access. For example, the ability to get information about bills due and available balances via mobile alerts or email was one of the three most popular requests from consumers when it came to managing money, according to the Expectations & Experiences survey.
3) Support multichannel payments Consumer payment preferences vary widely and are often driven by convenience. Consumers are quite flexible in how they pay, even changing from month to month. For example, research shows that consumers pay bills using an average of 3.6 methods each month, ranging from paying online at a bank or a biller website, mailing a check, calling a contact centre, or walking in to pay in person. Offering multichannel payment capabilities corresponds to consumers’ needs.
4) Deliver secure payment options It may come as no surprise that one of the top consumer banking concerns is the security of money and the information associated with it. A well-considered and carefully designed security strategy is a must, but people are often the weakest link in the security chain. As such, educating customers and employees is essential. Make sure customers know never to open or download files sent to them directly via email, nor to respond to inbound calls, emails or texts requesting their personal or account information such as identification information or passwords.
In a world that is more interconnected than ever before, payments platforms and offerings will continue to evolve and revolutionize the way consumers interact with financial institutions and their finances. Regardless of the latest and greatest technology, a successful payments strategy revolves around the consumer experience, and building a strategy requires an understanding of how consumers are engaging with payments on a day-to-day basis.
Consumers expect their providers to know them, understand them and anticipate ways to help them with experiences that are intuitive, immediate and inspired. The organizations that listen closest and continually improve the experience will be rewarded with consumer engagement and a leadership position in the payments industry.