loan killer

Within the last decade, droves of customers have turned to technology to simplify their daily activity. With the touch of a screen, a ride across town is at their disposal with Uber. Consumers can book an overnight room with Airbnb. One swipe right on Tinder and a relationship can blossom. While financial service companies can also use modern tech to improve their customer experience, too many don’t. Optimizing the user experience around financial services is among the many important innovations companies need to harness to provide killer CX.

With two-thirds of Americans owning a smartphone, personalized interactions with customers are becoming much more possible. Personalization is a large factor in what keeps people coming back to companies. Market research by GfK, for instance, found that consumers with more than $10,000 in deposits said they’d be more likely to continue their banking relationship if their experience was personalized.

With FinovateSpring 2016 fast approaching, let’s explore a handful of Fintech companies that model the type of innovation in CX more financial services need. Want to learn more? Check out the starred companies in San Jose, California, at Finovate, starting May 10.

1. Obloco*

Whether we crumple them in wallets, leave them torn at the bottom of briefcases, or stash them in a file folder, keeping track of receipts can be a nightmare. Obloco makes the whole process of reporting expenses easier. Instead of using expensive third-party software, their expense reporting program lets customers store copies of their receipts directly in their mobile banking app.

Obloco’s Director of Marketing Jesse Starnes says that using the online banking platform allows customers to track their expenses in a “place our users already know, trust, and visit on a daily basis.” Obloco remains hyper-aware of their customers’ habits and consistently prioritizes convenience, which is why their CX rules.

2. Neustar*

While digital awareness is becoming more important these days, companies need to avoid neglecting their offline service. The company Neustar is a model for bridging in-person and digital service. They released a product called PlatformOne, which helps advertisers target their audiences by tracking buying behaviors, geographic location and other factors. At Finovate, for instance, Neustar staff will demonstrate how a digital bank can encourage account holders to open a brokerage account by drawing information from a number of sources, offline and online.

In making marketing more personal, Neustar addresses many consumers’ frustrations toward one-size-fits-all advertising. A Janrain study notes that two-thirds of adults say they’d leave a website if shown the wrong advertisement. Consumers are sick of impersonal ads and Neustar empathizes, which makes their CX more effective in satisfying the customers.

3. Metro Bank

Although not entirely “Fintech” companies, some banks are also finding ways to innovate financial services. Banks, too, should emphasize convenience. In fact, a poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion shows that consumers see “easy online banking” as the most valuable service banks can provide. The British Metro Bank leads the way by taking the convenience of online banking even further: They were one of the world’s first major financial institutions to go totally paperless last year. The bank uses a service called a hybrid cloud, which lets customers access not only their payment history and bank statements from anywhere, but paperwork for services like loans and investments.

Metro caters to the many consumers today who forgo paper for the ease and environmental friendliness of the web. A whopping 80 percent of households with Internet already do theirbanking online, and 70 percent of employees opt for direct deposit of their paychecks. By having customers sign contracts on screen instead of taking home pages of printed out terms and conditions, the footprint is minimal, Metro Bank works with growing trends, rather than against them. This makes their CX just as modern as the customers themselves.

4. CitiGroup

As one of the world’s largest international banks, CitiGroup knows how to tap into other industries to make the most of its customer experience. In 2014, for instance, they hosted a hackathon called the Citi Mobile Challenge, which encouraged developers to create new mobile banking apps. Finalists won $10,000 as well as the chance to partner with the bank.

Citi continues to host similar hackathons in regions worldwide, awarding folks such as Jerusalem-based company GetGems, which helps donors give money via social media. Drawing from expertise in different industries and its customer base lets Citi think outside the box to improve its CX. What the firm’s Heather Cox told Forbes in 2014 remains true: “It used to be that an innovation group looked 10 years out. We cannot see past 12 months at this point, and that is fun, exciting and scary at the same time.” In short, improvements to CX don’t have to happen in a vacuum, and Citi models a better alternative: collaboration.

5. ShortSave*

When homeowners experience financial shock–whether they can’t meet monthly payments or their loan defaults or skyrockets–the last person they want to speak with is their lender, according to ShortSave CEO Karl Falk. Much like Turbo Tax does for taxes, the firm streamlines paperwork for defaulted loans by letting its customers submit the information online.

Like the rest of the companies on this list, those at ShortSave offer killer CX because they’re aware of their customers and their habits. Falk knows customers usually take about a month to complete an application via snail mail to get out of a defaulted house loan. Completing the task online, in contrast, can take less than an hour and removes the embarrassment of having to talk with someone. Furthermore, ShortSave uses technology many people are already using to help them get the job done, conveniently.

As this post reiterates, financial service companies need to keep up with trends in technology and know whom they’re serving to keep their CX relevant. Innovation’s happening too fast and startups are getting too smart for firms to demand customers change their habits to fit company practices anymore. It’s past time that companies serve customers in their own context. The five firms above give us a good place to start.