Given that the vast majority of corporate to bank interaction is now conducted through digital channels, it is vital that these provide a good user experience. But do they?
A report conducted by consultants Celent has concluded that, whilst there has been a profound evolution of online/desktop corporate banking channels in recent years, corporates ultimately believe that there is still a lot more to be done to meet their expectations.
“Digital channels continue to be the daily ‘face’ of the bank to corporates and many banks are struggling with the need to continually enhance the user experience which is driven by higher expectations based on consumer experience,” says Susan Feinberg, a Senior Analyst with Celent’s banking practice and author of the report.
A vital area
Celent’s report specifically looked at the banks ‘attended channels’, which are defined as those that employees of a corporate client interact with in order to retrieve information and conduct financial transactions (eg an online portal, mobile banking application or tablet banking application).
“Even though larger corporates increasingly rely on “unattended” or machine-to-machine integration, the attended channels require continual investment and ideally, are part of an overall digital strategy for the corporate bank,” explains Feinberg.
It was found that most successful banks are looking at their channel strategy as part of a broader digital transformation. “Banks are beginning to look at offering integrated corporate banking solutions and they are taking the time to truly understand how their channel solutions fit into their client’s daily workflows, in order to offer the most value,” says Feinberg.
This is despite some people in the industry claiming that this is an area that the banks are largely paying lip service to rather than actually making changes, especially when compared to the work being done in the retail space.
Also, Feinberg notes that digital corporate banking solutions have been around for some time, meaning that these have been built using multiple generations of technology. “As a result, it is difficult for banks to make wholesale changes at the same pace as some of the fintech players, but when they do make a change it is meaningful,” she says.
In conducting the research, Feinberg found that all banks, in some shape or form, were looking to simplify and unify their client interactions across business silos, and deliver on the promise of convenience in a secure manner.
To do this, banks are employing all of, or a variety of, different strategies.
Banks are looking to develop comprehensive online portals, which start with single sign-on, and include centralised entitlements and preferences for the most commonly used services.
Simplifying the user experience
Every bank Celent interviewed has a primary focus on improving the usability of corporate banking channels. Some of the most common approaches to achieving a more satisfying user experience include:
- Easier navigation from one module or service to another with minimal clicks and multiple navigation options.
- A personalised dashboard containing widgets that allow the user to see the most critical information after login and then drill down into details as needed.
- Consistent approval and exception management workflows across modules.
- Consistent search functionality across modules (in some cases, centralised search).
- Consistent reporting functionality that allows users to easily customise on-screen displays, report generation for printing, and data downloads.
Almost all banks have adopted a strategy of using a single database regardless of channel, which allows clients to view the same data across channels and to use multiple channels to perform approvals and exception management.
Although most banks continue to offer one-time-password hardware tokens for authentication and for approval of high-risk activities including changes to user entitlements, they are looking at different authentication methods. This is especially true around biometric authentication.
One of the biggest pain points in any corporate banking relationship is the ongoing maintenance of the accounts and services. Almost all of the banks interviewed claimed that they were exploring ways to offer enhanced self-service including the initiation and tracking of account and service maintenance requests.
It is unlikely that corporate treasury professionals will select their next banking partner based on the user experience offered by its attended channel. “The bank still needs to provide a high-quality service behind these channels, offer products and services that save the corporate time and money and offer a superior client service,” she says. “Availability of credit and the relationship manager are also important factors as well.”
That being said, the overall user experience that corporates have, when working with a bank, will likely become an increasingly important factor in the decision-making process. And Feinberg believes that it is important that banks work to “offer an integrated experience across all of the different product silos and design their channels from a client-centric perspective instead of how the bank is organised” in order to retain market share.
She also believes that banks need to focus on providing consistent and enriched data to their client. “The primary benefit being that treasurers can then manage their daily treasury operations much more efficiently,” Feinberg concludes.