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Differentiating Your Bank in the Digital Age: A Matter of Respect

As customer expectations rise and companies across industries continue to pour money into digital customer experiences, differentiation can be a challenge for banks and financial institutions. While it may be difficult, it’s not impossible.

One area where consumers are saying that banks lag behind is how they feel “respected” as a customer.1 In a recent Forrester report, feeling “respect as a customer” ranked second in importance among customer experience factors for both continued loyalty and impact on revenue.  

Unfortunately, only 57 percent of consumers believe their bank effectively shows them respect — which puts this crucial factor second-to-last. Banks have the opportunity (and the obligation) to do better.   

In the digital age when firm handshakes, free coffee or plush chairs aren’t around for banks to convey that the “customer is king,” things get a little more complicated. Respect is an emotion or feeling and therefore is subjective. It can mean different things to different people.

Let’s take our cue from the words of Aretha Franklin – “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me” – as we explore what showing respect means to your customers when it comes to their digital banking experience. In doing so, we’ll address areas of the digital banking experience that are ripe for differentiation:

Respect Their Time

Time is important to customers (and pretty much everyone else) and is universally acknowledged to be a precious commodity. Designing transactions that take less time is a simple way to elevate the customer experience. In fact, time is one of the key areas where banks can show respect, according to an interview given by the Forrester report’s co-author Gina Bhawalkar1:

“One way that can be done is by respecting the customer’stime…eliminating unnecessary steps and recognizing thata person doesn’t want to spend their whole day in your appor on your website.”


As other industries continue to improve their apps and streamline their online experience, customers are expecting faster, smoother online experiences from banks as well. Even traditionally lengthy processes aren’t spared from changing customer expectations. In a 2018 global survey of banking customers, 57 percent said opening a bank account shouldn’t take longer than an hour, and 47 percent said a mortgage application shouldn’t take longer than a day.2  

Customers who aren’t satisfied with the speed of their online banking experience may get frustrated and decide to go elsewhere. Therefore, it is crucial to streamline web and app-based onboarding and transactions to ensure that you’re meeting expectations and fostering loyalty.

Incorporating real-time technologies like HID’s Identity Verification Service can help eliminate lengthy waits and reduce the need for in-person, phone or business letter follow-ups during onboarding. Making the switch to streamlined digital processes should be a cornerstone of your efforts to respect your customers’ time.

Respect Their Abilities

Most physical bank branches will strive to provide accessibility options for clients with limited mobility. The touches that go into making a physical branch comfortable and safe for customers of all ages and abilities convey a sense of inclusion and respect. So how do you do that digitally?

One way is to simplify transactions so that infrequent or less-confident users feel just as valued as power users, especially given that so many customers are changing their behavior due to COVID-19. According to a recent FIS survey3:

  • More than 45 percent of customers have changed how they bank due to the pandemic
  • 46 percent of Baby Boomers say they are using new channels (mobile or online) as a result, compared to 39 percent of Gen Xers and 35 percent of Millennials

Put simply, banks are seeing a lot of customers change their behavior due to necessity, not desire. To ensure they’ll have a smooth, intuitive customer experience, it may be worthwhile to consider authentication and fraud prevention solutions that work behind the scenes rather than creating potentially frustrating barriers between the user and an online log-in or transaction.  

HID’s risk management solution incorporates machine learning algorithms to prevent fraud without unnecessary challenges to the customer. Removing obstacles from legitimate transactions without compromising safety is one way you can make the transition to digital easier for newcomers.

Respect Their Preferences

When customers show you their preferences, building your approach around those preferences isn’t just smart — it’s a sign that you’re listening to them. As you probably learned during childhood, listening carefully when someone else is speaking is a big part of being respectful. Let’s examine what users are “saying” with their access patterns:

% of Users Who Used the Channel to Access Their Account in the Past 3 Months BankingChannel Computer / Online Mobile App In-Person / Branch % of Customers Who Prefer the Channel as Their Primary Point of Access 55% 43% 39% 22% 9% 37%


While computer is king, mobile access is increasingly popular across geographies, according to Forrester data5:

52% of surveyed Italian adults and 42% of surveyed French adults had completed their transactions on a mobile website or app in the previous month


If you’re not providing an enhanced, uniform level of convenience and security across channels including authentication options that let users stay within-channel for transactions, they may feel as though their preferences aren’t being respected.  

Unfortunately, trying to encompass evolving customer needs across channels can be a back-end minefield for banks who cobble together multiple-point solutions for log-in and transaction authentication. That’s why it’s so important to choose solutions that integrate well with a wide variety of authentication methods — preferably from the same vendor. Banks needing to ramp up quickly should consider HID’s adaptive authentication solution, which is designed to create a smooth experience for users across channels and supports nearly every authentication method in the marketplace for maximum flexibility.

Respect Has an Upside

Designing experiences that convey respect for the customer’s individual needs is an opportunity for banks to differentiate themselves and inspire loyalty. Choosing the right technology can accelerate this process, making it possible to be mindful of the time, abilities and preferences of those who trust your institution with their assets. Learn more about crafting a superior customer experience through digital transformation.

Katie Björk is the Solution Marketing Manager for HID Global’s Consumer Authentication business unit. She has over 15 years of experience in communication and change management strategy. Katie has successfully implemented, communications, change management and product strategies for several large companies globally. In her current role, Katie is a member of the business unit’s leadership team and focused on ensuring the delivery of an unparalleled user experience in the world of consumer authentication. 


1 Data Reveals a Surprise Driver of CX Satisfaction in Banking.”

2“9 tech challenges facing banks.”

3 “COVID-19 intensifying customer-satisfaction challenges for banks.”

4 “Satisfaction ‘Cheat Sheet’: How the Best Banks Earn High Scores.”

5 “Customer Experience Goals for the Banking Industry in 2021.”

6“Accelerating Digital Transformation in Banking.”