The term personal banking kind of loses its luster when it comes to the online experience provided by most financial institutions. As new online technologies emerge, consumers are expecting the same level of service they receive in the branch when they conduct their financial business online. That has proven to be a challenge to financial institutions, which have found themselves losing those personal interactions that give them their competitive advantage.

With so many choices in financial services today, traditional online banking is no longer enough to retain members / customers. They are expecting financial institutions to provide the same dynamic web services other businesses use to interact with them.

Does your financial institution offer online chat, either inside or outside of your home banking platform? That is the most logical progression for financial institutions looking to regain that personal interaction with members or customers. Unlike online banking e-mail, which enables secure yet delayed interaction between financial institutions and their members or customers, online chat initiates a conversation. It provides dynamic, real-time communication. Financial Institutions that provide around the clock support on their live chat could increase their competitive advantage significantly. That is something many online retailers still don’t offer.

The way people access your website contributes to their online experience. More are more people are using mobile devices, and it’s not just cell phones. Tablets are becoming the norm for web surfing.  The most recent study on the State of Online and Mobile Banking released by comScore indicates that more than 234 million consumers have conducted some type of financial activity at least once using a mobile device. Their three primary methods of engaging their financial institutions are web browing, apps and text messages. Is your website mobile compatible? Right now, mobile compatibility most likely isn’t a deal breaker for consumers. However, if your financial institution is not thinking about, talking about and planning for it, you need to start now.

The good news is you don’t have to recreate the wheel. Online retailers already do what consumers will expect financial institutions to implement. You job is to figure out how that translates to the financial services industry. For example, do you know who surfs your website? When a consumer leaves your loan page then log on to Facebook, will he or she see an ad about your loans? How many times have you shopped online for shoes or gifts or something else only to find that same exact product advertised in some app or on some page you access regularly on Facebook? If retailers can do that, so can you.

The March 2013 issue of my newsletter includes in-depth information on how financial institutions can gain a competitive advantage by providing an exceptional online experience for members or customers. I hope you’ll check it out.