Mobile technology is simplifying banking for consumers in a plethora of areas—from payments to investing. But one area that’s been a sticking point for mobile banking, and is undergoing rapid transformation, is the ability for customers to open a brand-new account using nothing else but their smartphone.
The steps required to open a new account with a new financial institution usually require customers to fill out forms, speak to a representative on the phone, or even go into a branch. However, banks and fintech companies are beginning to partner to develop mobile apps that allow new customers to set up an account via their smartphone almost instantaneously.
That’s precisely the area that Somerset Trust Co., a $1 billion asset bank headquartered in Somerset, Pennsylvania, was looking to improve when it partnered up with BOLTS Technologies to improve its mobile new account customer experience. Somerset Trust, which was started by Civil War veteran Edward Scull and his son in 1889, has 29 physical branches across Pennsylvania and Maryland dedicated to customer friendly community banking. Today, Chief Executive Officer Henry Cook, a descendent of Edward Scull, manages the business his family started more than a century ago, but with the goal of leveraging technology to better service their customers.
One of the major problems facing Somerset Trust was the its digital new account signup processes. After conducting an audit of the process, the bank realized that there were serious deficiencies in the customer experience. Somerset Trust was also struggling to grow the business and obtaining funds to invest in modern technology. Customers simply weren’t drawn to Somerset Trust’s product offerings, due in part to apparent complexities in using its digital services. So, the bank decided to partner with BOLTS, located across the state in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to develop a sign-up experience designed to be consistent, timely and seamless across channels and devices.
BOLTS Technologies specializes in providing software to assist banks in better meeting customer needs, particularly in new account signups via digital channels. Moreover, BOLTS has worked with community banks for a number of years, and has developed a deep understanding of issues faced by community banks and areas they typically need to improve products or services.
One of the major technologies that banks fail to implement is fingerprint recognition and login, which BOLTS helped integrate into Somerset’s processes. The introduction of fingerprint recognition software on Somerset’s mobile application not only makes account sign-up easier, but allows banking staff to complete tasks seamlessly on mobile devices or tablets.
BOLTS spent several months working with the operations team at Somerset Trust, and early in the process identified the need to empower customer reps as such. This flexibility for branch staff was essential to the bank’s goal of securing an edge in relation to competitors’ approach to mobile technology. The result was a signup application that seamlessly moves from customers’ devices to desktops and tablets of back-end staff. The signup application was also built with a dynamic, rules-based engine that allowed the bank to more easily change and optimize steps in their account opening workflow. Auto-population features were also built in, which reduced data entry errors both from customers and branch staff. Consequently, Somerset Trust can shift its employee training efforts to more critical areas like customer service and interaction.
Somerset Trust customers are now able to start their onboarding on one digital channel, and complete the process on another. Starting an application on a laptop and coming back a day later to complete it on a mobile phone is a breeze. BOLTS also installed dynamic reporting functionality for customer service staff, allowing them to do things like follow up on hot leads and recognize their most valuable customers.
Since recently launching the BOLTS powered account opening product, Somerset Trust has been able to slash the average time it takes to open a new account. This is expected to generate an estimated savings of approximately $200,000 in year one. The new technology has also allowed the bank to expand into new markets that aren’t served by its brick-and-mortar locations, something it had struggled to do previously. Customers now have a reliable way of opening a new account 24/7 on their mobile device, without the need to visit a branch.
The partnership between Somerset and BOLTS continues to evolve, with the two companies currently developing a digital solution for loan and deposit origination utilizing the speed and convenience of tablet devices.
“BOLTS [Technology] has been a true partner to us, giving our bank access to IT talent and resources that compete with the largest of banks,” says Cook.
“Their approach allows us to focus on the customer experience, as well as break the status quo in traditional banking systems. It’s an exciting and invigorating feeling knowing that we have the resources to develop such ideas and position Somerset Trust Co. for a very promising future for our stakeholders.”