How Banks Can Identify the Right Partner for Innovation

In the last few years, fintech startups and neobanks have taken increasing wallet share from incumbent banks. These fintech players offer personalized, mobile-first customer experiences that have grabbed the attention and business of incumbent banks’ customers.

The COVID-19 pandemic only increased the number of customers who prefer digital banking services. Globally, up to 45% of consumers expect to cut back on branch visits following the end of the pandemic, and physical branch locations have been on the decline since 2012.

To keep up with changing customer demands, banks are updating technology stacks faster than ever. To do it right, they need to enlist the support of tech providers that will act as a true partner, supporting the bank’s needs from onboarding to adoption to adaptation.

Here are three characteristics to look for to ensure the provider you pick can meet your needs for the long haul.

1. Innovation-Focused

Banks should seek partners that are committed to growing and innovating as customer needs and expectations change.

To assess this attribute, check the provider’s website for examples in their mission statement and product descriptions that signal innovation to be at their core. One tipoff you’re looking at a long-term partner: their stated mission speaks to something larger than the function of what they sell.

While you’re on their website, read up on case studies to understand how they tackle new problems by proposing innovative solutions. Look for technology partners purpose-built for financial services and gather evidence that they’ve engaged with organizations facing similar challenges in real-world banking environments. 

For example, compared to general-purpose CRM and customer engagement platforms, purpose-built platforms don’t require long, costly customization processes before they’re ready to meaningfully shape your customer experience strategy.

Finally, look to the company’s news page to see how often it releases product updates or enhancements. Customer expectations change constantly. To help you meet and exceed those expectations, a tech partner engaged in true innovation is continuously updating and evolving its offerings based on industry-specific needs.

2. Committed to Your Overall Goals 

Even the best software in the world won’t affect your bottom line if your employees aren’t using it. Make sure the partner you choose offers thorough training or onboarding support.

Post-launch, highly available tech support is crucial.

I’d also argue that a true partner should go a step further, supporting your team where you most need help. For example, an app developer might provide ongoing usage dashboards and highlight areas for improvement.

Or a marketing enablement platform might provide banks’ lean marketing teams with tools like pre-built marketing messages, tips, and best practices.

It’s these above-and-beyond offerings that separate the vendors from those who truly rise to the level of partner.

3. Track Record of Success

A component that can’t be ignored is finding a partner rooted in financial services with the industry knowledge and expertise to help you reach your goals faster. Review sites like G2 and Capterra offer high-level insight into who they work with and how satisfied their customers are. You can also ask a potential partner to connect you with existing customers and look up their Net Promoter Score.

Another good indicator is whether the provider has won any awards or distinctions, which show how others in their industry view their work – a key metric of innovation.

The Right Tech Partner Positions Banks for Long-Term Success

Fintechs and neobanks may be ascendent, but legacy banks can easily pull ahead and regain dominance.

Besides the trust advantage incumbent banks have over startups, they also have a significant advantage in the amount of customer data in their systems. The key to long-term success is finding ways to leverage that data to deliver humanized messages and experiences at scale so that a bank can deepen its relationship with every customer.

Even in an increasingly digital world, incumbent banks can empower their customer-facing teams to deliver personalized interactions at every turn because, at the end of the day, people want to work with people. The right technology can help banks demonstrate care for their customers’ financial wellness, positioning them to become a lifelong partner for their customers’ evolving financial needs.