COVID-19 has forever changed how we work and live. Even before the pandemic, many banks were working diligently to adopt digital solutions to keep up with new market entrants and the expectations of the modern-day consumer.
Now, consumers are more comfortable relying on digital solutions, in-person interactions are not an option, and banks are exploring and implementing digital solutions at a higher pace. In this fireside chat, Blend CEO Nima Ghamsari and M&T Bank Chief CX Officer Aarthi Murali discuss how they’ve been able to adapt to evolving customer behaviors and expectations that have been accelerated by the pandemic.
Knowing your customers helps you stay competitive
Fintechs have aggressively captured market share, and as a result, shifted consumer expectations about the level of experience they can expect. Lenders are facing a clear call to action. For M&T, that entails developing and maintaining close relationships with customers and the community in order to deliver on their needs.
Murali championed the importance of knowing your customers, knowing your segments, matching your value propositions to your segments, and delivering the solutions to meet these needs. M&T executives spend countless hours with their ear to the ground, hearing directly from customers and using these interactions to inform the way in which they deliver offerings.
Ghamsari employs a similar mindset in his work with lenders, noting that customer anecdotes can help executives understand the psychology behind the data they so often use to drive decision making. “Our most successful partners stay close to the customer,” he said, mentioning the positive impact this behavior has when practiced by executives and employees at all levels.
Creating a journey-led mindset
Murali noted that customers look at their lives through the lenses of their own personal journeys, which may be very different from how organizations typically approach offering products and services.
Both Murali and Ghamsari stressed the importance of taking an outside-in approach that takes into account customers’ unique journeys. According to Murali, this enables fluid experiences that make customers feel that M&T really knows them and the offer was made for them. Connecting to customers’ emotions by meeting them where they are at the right moment is what helps M&T develop lasting relationships.
Ghamsari believes in reimagining these journeys as new technologies become available, insisting incremental changes are no longer sufficient. He points to digital closings as an example — now that they are possible, the entire closing process should be revamped in a way that serves consumers’ developing appetite for digital.
Leverage technology to meet customer needs
For Murali, it’s all about powering a customer-centric approach with the right digital tools. These tools, when used at the right moment, can help provide a delightful customer experience. M&T partnered with Blend in April to serve the needs of their community by processing an influx of PPP loan applications.
Together, they stood up an intuitive, self-serve application flow in under 72 hours, with M&T funding over 32,000 loans. M&T leadership’s dedication to their community and customers, combined with the use of Blend’s agile technology, allowed them to act quickly and adapt to a new customer need.
This was no easy feat, and both Murali and Ghamsari credited the executive alignment that was present in both organizations as crucial to the project’s success.
An accelerating pace of change
Murali and Ghamsari agree that the technology that customers will be using in 2022 and 2023 doesn’t yet exist. For Blend, this acceleration in new technology pushes us to continue refining a flexible platform that enables lenders to take advantage of new features as they come to market and deliver the best experiences to their customers. As financial institutions adopt new technologies, they can play a continued role in creating wider accessibility to financial services, a focus for both Blend and M&T.