New call-to-action    New call-to-action    Spotify

Download

Read the Transcript

James Robert Lay: 

Which came first the chicken or the egg? It's a philosophical question that explores origin and first cause and when it comes to maximizing your future digital growth potential at your bank at your credit, your or your fintech. Where do you put your focus on first? Is it on the external digital experiences that will impact both account holders of as well as prospective account holders? Or should you put your focus on the internal experience to help other leaders within your organization? Learn a common strategic framework so that everyone can be aligned and speaking the same language together? Well, let's find out on today's episode of the banking on digital growth Podcast.

 

Greetings and Hello, I'm James Robert Lay, and I'd like to welcome you to another episode of the banking on digital growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the real solution series where I transform real problems from real leaders into real solutions by removing roadblocks that lead to future growth. joining me for today's breakthrough conversation is Cynthia Ramsey brand manager progressive Ozark bank. Welcome to the show. Cynthia, it is great to share time with you today.

 

Cynthia Ramsey:   

Thank you for having me, I appreciate it.

 

James Robert Lay: 

I always enjoy these conversations to help real leaders break through real problems. And before we get into breaking through a problem together for you what is positive in your world personally or professionally, it is always your pick to get started on a high note.

 

Cynthia Ramsey: 

Well, we made a lot of really great projects going on here at the bank right now. And there's a really exciting for me, they may come into the conversation later. So I don't want to give any spoilers away. And you know, personally, I'm just waiting on spring. That's the positive in my day is one day closer to spring.

 

James Robert Lay: 

Well, you know, but here's the thing I This is practical, because you're waiting on Spring Spring is in a future state as we're recording this, we're kind of in the, the depths of winter. And that could be figuratively, that could also be metaphorically, if we think about just financial services at a macro level. And the way that we perceive the future is going to directly influence how we're thinking and operating right now in the presence of just the fact that you're looking forward to spring you're looking forward to something in the future, really, I think is just something that we can all do. And we've been doing this, we've been measuring this with our future growth index, because we're finding there are some leaders right now who they're not feeling so positive, they're not feeling so hopeful. And this isn't some like touchy feel good stuff. This is back in science is back to neuroscience that our perception of the future state in the present moment is going to directly influence how we move forward. Is it going to be from a lens of growth? Or are we stuck in the gap right now griping about problems? And with that being said, problems? I look at them as just simply obstacles as opportunities in disguise or obstacles or opportunities in disguise? What's an obstacle right now that we can break through together?

 

Cynthia Ramsey: 

Well, I mean, you know, I think everyone in the industry is is feeling the positive pressure, things like that. But I think that for us specifically, it's that, you know, those next steps forward, just kind of like you were talking about a how do we present ourselves in the market? That's, that's just just barely out of reach? How do we present ourselves and engage and be, you know, have that valid stance that we've had that we're used to having, and it feels so new and foreign? And I don't really think that it is so much. I think it's just a little bit of a reframing that we need to look at. But I think that's kind of where we are right? Now.

 

James Robert Lay: 

Let's let's unpack that a little bit more when you say reframe, present ourselves in a market that just seems slightly out of reach? What do you mean by that? What feels slightly out of reach right now?

 

Cynthia Ramsey: 

Well, for us, we are in an extremely rural market. I mean, any one of the six communities that we serve are a considerable distance from a metropolitan area. And you just there's a lot of farmland from one zip code to the next. So with that, there always kind of tends to be a little bit of a lag in adoption for certain, you know, new technologies and new practices and things like that. And that has certainly shortened in in recent years. But being able to take those next steps we see where we need to go for instance, video conferencing, video appointments with our customers, things like that. We're ready in essence. Are the customers ready? Are the staff ready? How do we get all of the pieces in place and and make it efficient and make it a positive experience. And it's it I think it is, is that mindset, like you mentioned, problems or just a puddle, you know it to me, it's just kind of, you know, how do we place things together and find a workable solution. And it may not look the way we thought it would look when we started. And that's okay. And so we're kind of in the midst of a little bit of that right now and a couple of different projects.

 

James Robert Lay: 

That makes me think about a couple of other rule financial brands that I've worked with. And I've coached and advised over the years. The there's, it's almost a two pronged approach, we have this external experience, customer experience, prospective account holder experience and their adoption, or maybe slow adoption of technology, which in one particular case, I thought it was very interesting working with, and this was back in maybe 2016 2017. So the world was even more different than what it was now that you had this next generation of farmers who are out on their combines, that are pretty much just, you know, making sure that they stay on the path, but the combine is doing most of the work. So what are they doing, they're on their iPad, they're on their phone, and they're doing, you know, kind of multitasking, which I just found very fascinating to think about that type of behavior. And, and then you also have what you touched on here, which I'm very happy that you did this internal perspective, this ESX is employee experience, because if we were having this conversation 567 years ago, the the recommendation would have been, let's just go to market. Let's test some things out, let's figure it out. But then through this experience over the last 567 years, even more specifically, since 2020, it's been, let's take an inside out approach instead meaning let's, let's get some alignment. Let's get some buy in from the internal team, first and foremost, because what I've experienced is by doing the outside in approach, yes, it works. Yes, it creates value externally, for account holders and prospective account holders. But what happens is it actually ends up creating friction internally, for our team for our employees, which will then go on to impact the external experience. It's a bit of a paradox of sorts. Let's dive into the internal side here. Because I see that if we if we fail to address that employee perspective, then the future state may not necessarily be positive when it comes to the word. And we'll just say digital growth, quote, unquote. How would you define this in just your own words? There's nothing right. There's nothing wrong. I just want a definition. As it stands today for you right now,

 

Cynthia Ramsey: 

in finding digital growth, yep. I would say it's that balance between taking those next steps into the technologies that we need, and how efficiently we're able to engage all parties. For me, that's the thing I mean, with what I do with marketing, I can put a lot of ads out yep, pick your, but I'm not going to keep my job if I don't have an ROI. Well, that intangible return on these kinds of things in that engagement level. And then of course, that turns into a tangible ROI. But but that's what it is for me.

 

James Robert Lay: 

So in once again, there's not a right there's not a wrong now, this is the interesting exercise that I'm going to recommend you and others who are watching or listening go and do. Write down the definite definition of digital growth, in your own words, based upon your own perspective, your own experience. Now, go ask 510 other leaders within the organization to go and give them their definition give you their definition of what digital growth is. I'm willing to bet you're probably gonna get 910 different definitions. And most likely, particularly, you're coming at this through the lens of of marketing and of growth. So you have a particular bias, if you will, towards growth. Sure, if we were to go into other areas of the bank, they're going to have a different perspective. And I'm willing to bet it's most likely from a service perspective that when you say digital growth, they're gonna be thinking, online banking, mobile banking, the service side of the digital experience, if you will. And that in and of itself really begins to create some conflict and tension because you're thinking, acquisition, growth, engagement, they're thinking retention service delivery model over here. And once again, what is not right One is not wrong, but that's where we do see the tension is rooted in now. I'm going to paraphrase from page nine of banking on digital growth, I opened up the book with terminology of defining digital growth. And it is a well defined system and process that is centered around the modern consumer journey. Uniting marketing, sells service leadership operations it to do three key things, three key activities that we can measure against. Number one, is increasing website traffic. Number two, is now generating leads off of that website that can be nurtured through automation and through content. And then number three, is converting and closing those leads leads for more loans. And for a lot of financial brands right now in the market, more deposits. If you think about that, increased traffic, generate leads, get more loans and deposits level up loans and deposits. Where is the gap? Perhaps the knowledge gap to begin with, internally, with others within the organization? And this is an important question to consider here. Because we're getting the operations bit.

 

Cynthia Ramsey: 

Yeah. In my opinion, not only in our organization, but predominantly throughout banking. I really think that understanding that first piece, and how to get there, because and you and I might agree to disagree on this part of it. But at least for our markets, specifically, website traffic isn't really what we're looking for. What we're looking for is that traffic on other channels, which and maybe, you know, maybe we could expand that website definition and, you know, find some agreement there. But we're, we're utilizing display on demand ads, we're utilizing our social media pretty extensively. And we, that's where we want to see that engagement, we aren't trying to channel to our website, because what we found with our customer base, our existing customer base was, that really wasn't where they wanted to spend their time. Anyway, we revamped our website considerably at the beginning of 22, I believe it was. And we, it's very streamlined and intuitive. But it's very basic, we found that our customer base simply wanted a person they were not very and now that may be through a digital channel, you know, that might be through a web video to ad or an online chat or something like that. But they they wanted a person. And they weren't spending a lot of time on our website. Regardless, that's not a place that they wanted to be. So they wanted to be in our social media feeds, we've seen very, very significant success with our display ads and things like that. And so getting them to a shorter sales funnel essentially, has been successful. And, and so that's something that I think is I don't know if that would translate to every market. So I'll put that Asterix on it. But that's definitely a piece that I think are upper management in our leadership within the organization, and even some more middle management are starting to see hey, that, that customer behavior is where we need to go where we need to be.

 

James Robert Lay: 

So there's no a disagreement here at all. In fact, there's 100% alignment of thinking. And what I mean by that is, from the last 21 years of doing this, what we've experienced is that the number one most influential source channel, quote unquote, if you will, in a consumers buying journey, is connecting with another human being, regardless of if that human being is in the branch, over the phone, through chat through video now, reducing the speed to a human connection increases the propensity for conversion once again, regardless of if that conversion is in the branch over the phone. Online excetera. So when you're talking about now, looking website, increased website traffic, the thinking is sound. Because where are we going to how are we going to increase that website? Try Traffic, third party channels, social media, leveraging the personal brands of bankers within the local communities to connect with other people through their social channels like say they're on a combine, what are they doing? I don't know, we don't get that deep. But maybe they're tick talking. Maybe they're maybe they're only I just don't know. But how do we how do we build that, that center of influence for lenders and for leaders through those digital channels to make those human connections? Now, I will push back a little bit on the website piece of this. And this comes back to the philosophy of increased website traffic. How we do that is going to be very specific to the market. Once people get to the website, though, what is the website designed to do? Is it designed to just get a loan app or deposit account. And if it is, what we're seeing is financial brands are literally losing millions and loans and deposits, because there's something middle of the funnel. And that's the second step, which is to generate leads, there's different types of leads. So for example, request a call back schedule an appointment having these alternative paths for human connection, you say people don't want to spend a lot of time there. But it would just be interesting. If you were to add some additional conversion points on that site, would the site create that much more value to connect a prospective account holder with a lender leader? Advisor excetera. So that's more of a question. The other thing too is, you say, our customers aren't wanting to spend a lot of time on the website. Well, I would agree 85 to 92% of all traffic that comes to the homepage of a website is there to do one thing, which is login to online banking. That's where things like personalization, and using data to personalize that experience, can come back to deepen the relationship, even if that if we're personalizing it with human centered content. So sounds like you've got a great start a good foundation, there are probably opportunities to optimize and take what you're doing, make it even that much better, with things like digital lead gen, digital nurturing, that our other teammate adda, which is automation data and AI can come in and to facilitate some of these relationships. But a lot of that is going to be really dependent upon the perspective of other team members within the organization. Because they're going to have to play a role in this experience. Now, this comes back to the definition of digital growth. well defined systems and processes centered around a modern consumer journey that unites marketing, sales ops leadership, it excetera. So without the clarity from them of like, how do we systematically bring traffic in to increase relationship through ads, through social to generate leads to nurture those leads, and then convert those leads? That knowledge gap, I often find is an impediment because there have been financial brands, who have gone to the outside that have deployed some of these systems, some of this thinking, but then they don't have the internal resources to then make those human connections because they're thinking from a branch first or a branch first growth mentality. Thinking about this, from your perspective, where's the opportunity here? What's one thing that you could do, going back questions to ask actions to take? turn some of this into practicality action?

 

Cynthia Ramsey: 

Well, it's interesting to me that you touched on, you know, the appointment setting, things like that, because those are actually some of the things that we're working on right now. Putting into all of our channels, but specifically our website, so that there's a little bit more direction for those prospects that we've had, you know, those same conversations, you know, we we know, what our customers are looking for, what are our prospects like? And so, so that is something that we've been looking at implementing for this year, which that comes along with the video conferencing and scheduling video appointments with different ones in the bank, whether it be deposits or loans, or even just general customer service. And so some of those things are kind of in the early stages of workings, but we've, we've been looking at how then, like you said that engagement piece of finding that balance between making sure that our staff are, are fully equipped, that they're comfortable that they're as competent, and that they can have that same exchange, it's so interesting to me how we humans, we want that that personal connection that we don't want to be physically face to face. But then when we bring technology in to be that channel, it feels more like a barrier. And it's just that that whole thing just kind of kind of cracks me up about how we approach everything. And so we've been just navigating a lot of conversations around it really just, what can we do? What will it look like? What you know, right now, customers are fine with. I mean, especially like our ad customers, they're looking at, you know, what's going on with the livestock market on their phone while they're feeding? They don't mind if the lender show that while they're feeding and Trump's through the mud with them. So then how do we transition that to a video chat, where they're comfortable video chatting on their phone while they're in the barn? And our lender is as well, because they're already having those kinds of interactions in the physical. So how do we transition that to the digital?

 

James Robert Lay: 

This reminds me of another there a community institution up in North Texas. I mean, you talk about wide open spaces, they took a it's fascinating, they took a digital first approach to growth, because they knew that there were ways to create even more value efficiently. But leading with the human experience, even though the human experience was going to be deployed through digital channels, I want to leave you with three questions. And this is good for you. This is good for those who are watching and listening. What this really boils down to here is thinking through what the digital journey looks like. And that's an important point. When I say digital journey, people think oh, well, it's just digital only. No, there are multiple touch places along this journey. Three questions. And this is from a human centered perspective for growth. Prospective account holder, if you will, number one, where do you want me to go? Because if you think about what we're doing is we're facilitating a an experience. And an experience is nothing more than well defined systems and processes that have been number one strategically thought out, applied, and then most importantly, optimize over time. And you have front stage experience and backstage experience. What prospective account holders experience is the front stage, obviously, but then the front stage is only going to be as good as the backstage. So the first question is, where do you want me to go? Is there clarity there? Because there's this whole underlying emotive journey that people go through. They have to exit some level of confusion. In the step, first step is clarity. So where do you want me to go? Number two? What do you want me to do when I get there? And then number three, most importantly, how do you want me to feel along the way, and even down to the tactical level of like copywriting, like evoking emotion, like schedule, a video appointment, to gain clarity and how you can grow your farm in less than 30 minutes. Something along those lines. So positioning that idea of clarity, confidence, courage, commitment, these are all positive words that can take someone from a current state and help them get to an even bigger future, which is exactly where we've taken this conversation now full circle, as you're looking forward to spring yourself, Cynthia, this has been a great conversation always great to break through obstacles, transform them into opportunities. If someone has listened and they want to connect with you expand the ever growing digital growth community, what's the best way for them to reach out and say hello?

 

Cynthia Ramsey: 

Well, probably the best thing to do would be to shoot me an email and my email address is C Ramsey at Progressive Ozark bank.com. And I'd love to connect with anyone i i love these kinds of dialogue, but I love being able to collaborate and put ideas together and share about each other's challenges. It makes us all better.

 

James Robert Lay: 

It does so connect with Cynthia, learn with Cynthia collaborate. We're all gonna grow even better together. Cynthia, thanks again for joining me for another episode of the banking on digital growth podcast. This has been a lot of fun today.

 

Cynthia Ramsey: 

Thank you so much.

 

James Robert Lay: 

I've enjoyed it as always, and until next time, be well do good. You the light.

Brief Summary of Episode #370

Understanding specific needs of those in the communities you serve is critical, particularly in unique markets like rural areas.

But where do you put your focus first? It's the age-old philosophical question of what came first...the chicken or the egg?

Is it on the external digital experiences that will impact both account holders as well as prospective account holders? Or should you put your focus on the internal experience to help other leaders within your organization learn a common strategic framework so that everyone can be aligned?

This is a very common question and one that was recently posed by Cynthia Ramsey, brand manager at Progressive Ozark Bank.

Together, we'll discuss how to navigate the delicate balance between providing technology solutions and personal touch in financial services.

It's all about building trust...ensuring efficiency without losing the human element.

 

Key Insights and Takeaways

  • Digital growth and its various definitions within an organization. (3:09)
  • Optimizing website traffic and lead generation for financial brands. (11:32)
  • Digital growth strategies for banks. (18:53)