Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.   Basically, be respectful and others will treat you with respect.  That is the Golden Rule.

In the banking world, this has meant (and in many cases still means) as a customer you walk into a branch and are met by a greeter who directs you to the right person within the location for your needs. From there you are introduced to this resource and then you discuss personal business and products. If the right person isn’t there, you are given their contact and assured they will follow up.

The intent is everyone gets the same service, every time and for the most part everyone is happy. Financial institutions may call it personalized service and sure, some institutions have private banking areas that are a little nicer and may have a bit higher level of attention but you still go through the same basic process to get a loan or settle an issue.   But hey, that is the Golden Rule right? Treat everyone nicely and they will recognize and reward your bank with their loyalty right? Nope. Dead wrong. There is a new service reality that goes by the Platinum rule and banks better empty the gold from the vault and start stocking up on this precious asset.

The Platinum rule is “Treat people the way they want to be treated”. In other words, just because you (the bank) like the smell of chocolate chip cookies and the idea that customers will flood your location to devour them doesn’t necessarily mean your customer does. Consumers want enabling services that make life easier and demonstrate their bank understands the technology they use every day. They want a service and product delivery process tailored specifically to their needs at exactly the moment they need it, no matter where they might be. And when a client is in the branch, they expect an exceptional retail experience that delivers the same level of convenience they can get at any other retail shop around town.

The good news for financial institutions is the Platinum rule is not a guessing game anymore. The age of big data collection has been accompanied by an enabling consumer mindset for sharing personal details across the Internet for anyone to see. Your customers will tell you where they are, what they are buying, who they are hanging out with and then beg for help on how to make critical decisions along the way. As a bank, you have to give them what they want. You don’t ditch the branches or the cookies; you just make sure your vault is full of platinum service across all channels and not just golden initiatives.

Banks can deploy technology to take advantage of big data products and deliver solutions to their clients both in and outside of the branch network. The analytics warehoused on consumers today via big data initiatives are dauntingly powerful for those in possession of relevant information. One example to consider is Fidor Bank out of Germany.

Fidor Bank is a digital bank with a mission to leverage service customization and social media out reach to the benefit of their customer. They don’t guess at what customers want.   They collect data directly from their customers, analyze it and then deliver accordingly without assumptions on what is right or wrong while continually innovating to the point of creating an objective to bank anything the customer sees of value; digital or otherwise.

Fidor bank believes there is an untapped value to digital assets. From Bitcoin to World of Warcraft Gold and airline miles, if you can transact with an asset in one environment Fidor thinks it is plausible you can create a value comparison to others and then enable an exchange much like world currency markets.   It may be a far-fetched comparison but the reality that someone might have a bank account full of World of Warcraft Gold and make a trade for another person’s Delta Sky miles is at the very least intriguing to consider.

Fidor bank is on the bleeding edge for sure.   And I am not suggesting that the creation of a bank account for game coins is the answer to customer satisfaction but it does illustrate the level to which new, disruptive banking concepts are stretching to meet customer demand.

My definition of the Platinum Rule in banking takes into consideration the strengths of a multi-channel approach. I do not believe there is a replacement for face-to-face service but I do know that people want quick, simple solutions that don’t require them to visit a physical location for a simple transaction. On the other hand, they do want a trusted advisor they can speak to in person when they deem it necessary. Financial institutions need both digital and physical solutions to customer requirements.

The challenger banks receiving the most attention lately are a lot like Fidor Bank. They are presenting concepts that are rogue when compared to tradition. No branches and a mobile approach accompanied with low fees and even lower overhead. The model is slick, invigorating to the Venture Capital community and in many ways wildly successful.

The good news for financial institutions that goes without much discussion and less celebration is that since the great recession, the Internet banks have boomed but traditional banks have exploded in deposit growth. According to a recent article by Cornerstone Advisors, the Internet banks have added an astounding $175 billion in assets over the last 6 years while traditional banks and credit unions piled up $2.85 trillion in deposits. Wow.

No one knows what the future will bring but all signs point towards more innovation and deployment of technology for the benefit of the consumer. Banks alike have in many ways benefited from the challenger bank service introductions by being fast followers deploying similar technology in compliment, rather than as a replacement, to their branch network. So far that is working quite nicely it seems.

So what about Fidor Bank? Imagine what might happen if they decided to open a few branches and put out some Strudel (cookie joke!). That would really cause a few waves.

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