JPMorgan Chase Has a Digital Strategy that Puts Customers First
With a technology budget of $9.4 billion in 2016, you’d expect JPMorgan Chase to have been innovating a panoply of new customer experiences across the increasingly digitized omnichannel banking spectrum over the past year or so. And do you know what? You’d be right.
When Gavin Michael became Chase’s Head of Digital for its retail unit in 2013, he knew instinctively where to start with the company’s digital revolution – an overhaul of its mobile app. Gavin realized that – at least when it comes to their smartphones – people are actually ready and willing to embrace change, especially when such changes bring renewed convenience (and a little digital slickness) to those unavoidable but necessary everyday tasks.
Indeed, a banking app that you use for paying bills and checking balances may not be as naturally cool or attractive as the likes of Uber or Seamless (which, respectively, magically summon rides and food). But, even so, consumers have now been conditioned by the ease and usability of these services – and that’s exactly what they expect from their bank, too.
"Think about the number of apps that are updated on your mobile phone through the course of a month," Michael said. "Customers are trained and are being trained to be receptive to change. So we started there, harnessing that energy, the passion, the appetite for change and decided to use it as a big signpost to our customers of what to expect."
Simple, Personal, Human and Cohesive
The Chase app quickly became somewhat of a trendsetter in the financial services industry. In June 2015, it was the first large bank to adopt Touch ID for customers with Apple devices, who could now use just their thumbprints to sign into their online accounts. In so doing, higher expectations were set across the entire sector, with greater use of the technology quickly spreading.
And the app itself, since its launch in April 2014, has been continuously updated by Michael and his team throughout its lifespan, ever delivering new features and fresh functionality that add value and improve ease of use. Indeed, Michael has said from the start that all of Chase’s digital offerings would be developed with four key tenets in mind – that they feel “simple”, “personal”, “human” and “cohesive”.
A Website Built for Customers, Not Sales
In keeping with this vision, the bank has also overhauled its website, consolidating the 300+ pages from the old site in a manner that negates the need for users to have to frustratingly hunt around to find the info they need to get things done. As well as incorporating a newsfeed section – which visitors can use to access the latest articles about personal finance – the site now includes what the Chase team call “the conversational area”. This area has something of the social network feel, with notifications and alerts pinging into life at the top of the page, which users can respond to instantly without having to navigate away from what they’re doing.
Then there’s the website’s new search engine, which is on hand to answers customers’ questions as soon as they arise. "We think of this as something connected to the way we have a banker relationship at a bank," said Tim Parsey, Head of Digital Customer Experience at Chase. "Here's this advice, this support, this guidance that's always there for you."
With the app and the site redesign, the investment in technology has been a large one. But Chase says that the only effect to the company’s bottom line is a positive one. Chase defines digitally-centric customers as those “who visit a branch or talk to a banker no more than once a quarter and conduct three digital transactions a quarter”. According to Gordon Smith, Chief Executive of Consumer and Community Banking for JPMorgan, these customers cost the company half of their non-digitally-centric counterparts. But it’s not just a question of expense. Smith, speaking at the company’s investor day last year, also said that digital customers are loyal customers, and the better the digital experience the bank can create, the better the customer relationships that are built.
Beating Startups at Their Own Game
Powering Chase’s digital transformation are the programming team at the company’s new technology hub – a 125,000-square-foot space on Manhattan’s West Side. With its games room, pool tables, video walls, and fridges bursting with sodas and snacks, the hub seems as if it’s been airlifted in straight from Silicon Valley. Employees – of which there are over 700 – cart around on scooters as music plays in common areas.
But this is still a bank, and beneath the laid-back Google-esque atmosphere, there’s work to be done. Emerging FinTech competitors such as OnDeck and LendingClub are nimble, strong, and are not weighed down by decades-old legacy systems that have proved such a hindrance to the traditional banking sector in recent years.
The Manhattan hub is Chase’s response, and out of it, the agile team work in constant three-week sprint cycles, executing continuous site and app improvements that are almost entirely focused on serving Chase’s existing customers better, as opposed to optimizing for increased sales. And this, indeed, is what Chase sees as key to keeping traditional banks competitive and relevant in the Digital Age. The last word goes to Tim Parsey. “All the startups, all the fintech guys are pushing very hard because they see opportunity. We have to take the banking world up to the same level as the rest of the digital industry. Beyond that, there are exciting ways to innovate how people feel about their finances.”
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