According to Harvard Business Review, more than 85 percent of retail banking transactions in the US are digital.6 In business models like the Open Platform Player and Utility Provider, the human interaction totally disappears. While human contact is diminishing in terms of volume, the quality and importance of any human touch points will increase. This is especially true for Digital Relationship Managers and Digital Category Killers where human connection can play a vital role in building the brand and shaping the culture of the business.

Take robo adviser servicing start-up Betterment, a Digital Category Killer. It uses smart design to provide a friendly and intuitive way to guide customers to the right investment decisions. While machines do the math and complicated logic, Betterment’s design features—including questions to prompt the right actions and tax impact previews—offer the best potential options based on their customers’ behavior. Investors can then make choices to help achieve their long-term goals in a simple and engaging way.7 Betterment recently announced new service offerings that include access to human certified financial planners and licensed financial experts.8 The technology itself is impressive, but more importantly, it is built around a thorough understanding of human interactions, both with machines and with other humans.

Bankers are beginning to recognize the importance of adapting for unique human behavior to shape the quality of the customer journey and the effectiveness of technology solutions. Eighty-one percent of bankers agree that organizations that can truly tap into what motivates human behavior and design the customer experience accordingly will be the next industry leaders; 34 percent are planning to extensively use human behavior analysis and insight to guide customer experience design. The majority (80 percent) also agree that organizations will need to understand not just where people are today, but where they want to be, and then shape the technology to act as their guide.

That part is easier said than done. Despite an increase in the amount of customer data and insights available, 67 percent of bankers agree that their organization struggles to fully understand their customers’ needs and goals. Nearly 80 percent of bankers report a moderate to significant gap between what customers want versus what they need; 27 percent say they are pioneering actions to improve the “match” of what their customers say they need and what, by action, their customers actually need and receive. A good example is bank rewards programs. While the 2016 Accenture Loyalty and Rewards Benchmarking Study reveals that 91 percent of financial services executives believe members are satisfied with their loyalty programs; in another recent study of financial services customers, only 31 percent said their loyalty programs are “great.”

Perfecting that match makes designing technology capabilities to fit unique human behavior that much more advantageous— particularly in the face of modern, digital banking models, such as ecosystem platforms and channels not owned by banks. Platforms, for example, bring in customers who come from outside the sphere of the bank’s knowledge. Within such models, banks typically have only the financial transaction to impress consumers with whom they may never connect again. And, the amount of time that banks have to sway consumers grows shorter and shorter. Thus, design-centered thinking will need to be surgically precise. Interactions are hardwired into the technology. As design thinking changes, the bank’s technology must be agile. Imagine a customer walking up to an ATM with a blank screen simply waiting for the customer to dictate the interaction. It means that the bank must adapt its model, infrastructure, and workforce to ensure that every customer interaction is a low-friction, enjoyable experience that fits with the way customers want to interact, not how the bank wants them to interact.

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