Imagine accessing your monthly financial statement on a single responsive page. That page provides an intuitive view of your finances, segmented in a logical hierarchy. Perhaps an integrated video introduces the statement or walks you through the highlights, including spending categories and spikes. Graphs and spending categories guide you to better understand it at a glance.
Let’s say you don’t recall a transaction. So, you ask for clarification through your device’s microphone or live chat. Once you master your statement, another piece of media catches your eye. It could be rewards, savings recommendations, investment opportunities or a service you didn’t know about.
It may seem like a pipe dream, but so did other digital changes that have happened over the past years. Digital demands have transformed every corner of the financial services industry. Statements could soon follow suit, adding significant value to consumers.
Institutions that seize current opportunities and plan for upcoming technologies can transform this mandated process into an effective engagement touchpoint.
A Practical Guide to the Current Statement Landscape
Before glimpsing into the future of financial statements, consider the following trends.
Of the respondents to CSI’s recent survey, over a third of financial institutions primarily (36%) or solely (2%) deliver paper statements. That’s almost double the number of customers who prefer to manage finances digitally.
It’s true that many customers still rely on paper statements, and there are advantages to providing both. Yet these numbers suggest an opportunity to shrink the gap between those who prefer digital and those who actually use digital statements. Market upheavals suggest that the time is ripe to advocate for conversion and showcase your digital services. Doing so cuts costs and meets digital expectations.
How and to Promote Digital Statement Adoption
Interactive digital statements ensure cross-channel consistency and convenience. They update your statements’ appearance to reflect your brand. They also simplify marketing and abandon the rigidity of paper statements.
However, many consumers still prefer the status quo. Institutions have deployed a variety of strategies to combat these preferences. Some have taken a more direct approach to encourage adoption by charging a fee for print or flipping the script by making e-statements the default option.
While these methods to digital statement adoption can be effective, consider your average customer and whether there would be pushback. If so, you can avoid friction with a subtler approach that showcases the benefits of adoption.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Pew Research found that over 80% of Americans use the internet daily. With the ever-increasing preferences in favor of digital use, many customers are persuadable. Show them that the water is worth drinking. Continue to use every tool at your disposal to inform and reassure customers about digital statements. Promote digital alongside printed statements, through teller conversations, or on posters or digital banking advertisements.
Highlight these benefits of digital statement adoption to help eliminate skepticism from your customers:
- Access from anywhere on preferred digital channels
- Immediate delivery with customer notifications
- Enhanced security that limits theft
- Automatic storage for review at their convenience
- Search functionality to verify transactions, detect fraud and create budgets
- Less clutter, which saves time for customers
- A positive environmental impact and eco-footprint
As you hone your own digital statement strategy, this could be the moment to pivot further into the digital arena. Converting your remaining holdout customers to paperless delivery now (even if they elect to receive both) will give you an advantage when digital statements change on a more fundamental level. Strategic technology use positions you as a competitive leader in the digital marketplace. Your statements could make that statement to current or prospective customers.
The Next Big Thing in Digital Financial Statements
Interactive digital statements are the critical first step toward a better user experience. But tech leaders see an opportunity to innovate further and transform statements into a unique customer resource.
Either expect minimal interaction or make that statement worth customers’ time and attention. The following are some of the highlights for upcoming media-rich documents that customers won’t overlook.
Two-Way Interactive Engagement Tools
Customer engagement has become a common, but difficult-to-achieve goal in the financial services industry. While competing for customers, institutions are also competing for attention. A couple of years ago, MarketWatch stated that Americans spend a whopping 7000% more time watching TV than thinking about their finances.
Financial statements provide a quantifiable benefit to your institution and customers. But that value diminishes if they’re only skimmed or lost in the shuffle of inboxes and stacks of mail. Tech innovators intend to make reading a statement easier and more exciting.
Even if a customer only refers to your statement for a few moments, you’ll soon be able to make those moments count:
- Live chat and voice features enable your customers to interact with you more directly. These elements of a holistic digital communication strategy ensure that customers understand their statements without needing outside sources. They also establish you as a reliable resource.
- Graphic displays and more intuitive designs make the information more digestible. The brain processes visual data incredibly fast. So, spending breakdowns and graphs optimize the digital format and make it easier to understand financial statement highlights.
- Personal Finance Management (PFM) simplify making budgets, tracking expenses and monitoring financial health. While maintaining consistency with digital banking, users will be able to adjust PFM category assignments without leaving their statement.
- Embedded videos could offer an overview or showcase a relevant offer. According to HubSpot, 54% of customers prefer video to text content. Embedded, pre-made external videos are therefore an easy win. If the industry pushes for widespread use, institutions may soon even be able to integrate personalized videos that walk customers through their statement.
- Recommendations can help customers make wiser financial decisions, investments and more. This is also an opportunity to expand your marketing ability and highlight reward systems or different products.
Improved Accessibility and Device Responsiveness
Many customers who use digital banking refer to their transactions through that platform. It’s a testament to the strides in digital and the usefulness of digital channels.
But many financial statements needlessly imitate the paper statements of old. These PDF exports were never intended for omnichannel access, as they derive from a paper-first strategy rather than a digital one.
The next generation of digital statements must learn from engaging website formats instead. The output will become a responsive experience from anywhere that eliminates the tired zooming and overwhelming rows of transactions. Users will be able to receive notifications and access a unique, personalized page that was designed for their preferred platform.
To accomplish that task, API integrations will enable the same look and feel as the digital banking experience. That way, as financial data is updated and complemented in real time, users will also avoid the disjointed experience of switching platforms.
Although they will continue to dwindle, some customers will still prefer paper. Future statements will blend the paper and digital experiences, encouraging users to flow between them. For example, QR codes on physical statements could provide immediate access to a consistent digital experience.
Actionable Digital Statement Data and Analytics
Effective digital transformation is impossible without a clear view of customer data. Consider what you learn from your current statements. Does it offer genuine insight and value?
For forward-thinking financial institutions, it’s time to revise those expectations. Modernized digital statements will more widely process and collate data for useful reporting. Updated analytics dashboards better illustrate recipient engagement, tracking usage and delivery failures. With these tools, your institution can gain insight into when and how your customers use (or don’t use) your documents. This data can supplement and draw from your CRM and other existing analytics tools.
Engagement data will also illuminate time-spent and click-rates for each personalized statement. If a customer examines a particular part of their statement, you have a clearer view of that customer’s interests and needs. When customers overlook one aspect, you can fine-tune your messaging or strategy accordingly.
Your Customer Experience is a Key Differentiator
As the market drives consumer expectations, the right investments spur customer engagement. As such, digital statements will continue to evolve, empowering customers to better understand their finances.
Until these new technologies arrive in full, use your statements as an opportunity to create a unified customer experience. For a broader view of that experience and tips to get there today, refer to our Banking Priorities 2021 Executive Report.
Jimmie Paradee is product manager with CSI’s Document Services Division. In his role, Jimmie is responsible for the product management for all CSI Document Services web-based SaaS applications.