How simpler can be better for your bank

The best gift you can give to your customers is not low fees, quality customer service or a wide array of products - it's their time. At the end of the day, nobody wants their time wasted. 

As Jeffry Pilcher, CEO and president of The Financial Brand explained at the Forum 2015, "time is in extremely limited supply, and yet very high demand." 

The problem of time is one faced by every financial institution. You want to provide the best service to your customers, but you need to do so in the fastest way possible. You're balancing quality with speed. In other terms, this is a problem of lean operations. How can you simplify your financial institution so it is as efficient and cost-effective as possible?

Here is what Pilcher had to say the Forum 2015, as well as a few tips to simplify your business operations:

"Tailor your bank to fit customer needs and expectations."

'Simple' saves time
In his speech, Pilcher explained how simple really means saving time. He argued that the main goal for a financial institution is to simplify operations, which in turn means saving people time. 

He noted that the key question you should be asking is "how can this be simpler?" You can begin by identifying the problem you want to solve. According to Pilcher, this is easiest if you have a clear picture of customers, their desired service and their problems. Find out what grates on them, and figure out where they want improvement.

With the problem found, Pilcher recommended cutting out steps. His argument for simpler means less thinking, and therefore less time. His tips included less jargon in your directions and marketing materials. He also suggested a holistic business approach to minimalism, including within your marketing. One other tip was to communicate visually, opting for pictures, graphics, charts and videos over words.

"More clarity, more intuitive, more usable," he explained in the speech. "A consistent experience that isn't frustrating, it's frictionless."

Toward the end of his speech, Pilcher brought up examples of Southwest Airlines, Apple and Netflix. He pointed out that these companies excel because they make things easy for consumers. They have simple business models, and that shows with the end product.

"Why are these companies crushing the competition? Because consumers are starved for time and crave the level of simplicity these companies deliver," he concluded.

Simplicity is all about time management.Simplicity is all about time management.

How you can simplify your bank
Of course, the argument for simple banking isn't always so simple. However, there are a number of steps you can take in addition to the suggestions given by Pilcher. 

Three such tips include:

1. Trim the excess
Many businesses, including financial institutions, have plenty of "fluff" that clogs up the company. This can range from policies to rules, products and services. The goal at this stage is to remove much of this excess for leaner operations. Look for anything that wastes time, such as redundant systems or superfluous meetings. If you can ditch these basic tasks, you can simplify your bank.

2. Think like a customer
A simpler business is all about what the customer wants. To figure that out, you need to think like a customer. Try to go through the sales process from their perspective. Go to a branch and pretend to be a customer. Or, bring in someone from the outside who you trust and have them do it. This will give you insight into your bank.

3. Be committed to the process
Above all else, you should be committed to leaner operations. This can be a tough call sometimes, however, as you have to figure out which parts of your business need to be scaled back. This is when you have to really be dedicated to the task. Don't be afraid to make the tough call, and always make decisions with an eye on customer service and ROI.