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Note: This article was originally published on NRToday.com on May 30, 2019.

It’s really opened the door to strengthen my relationship with my customers.

Umpqua Bank is trying to be a pioneer in banking by making digital banking personal.

The bank introduced it’s “Go-To” app in April to bring people closer to their personal bankers, like Deanna Yraguen, wherever they are and whenever they need to.

“They can shoot me a message, they don’t have to interrupt their day, it’s a seamless transition,” Yraguen said. “Then I’m there when they do think of the big things, I’m their go-to person.”

The app is in addition to the existing Umpqua Bank app and is focused on secure communication with real people for the everyday and the long-term questions, Chief Communications Officer Eve Callahan said.

“We’re still really driven by the idea of how can we help our communities and our customers specifically access their money and access the expertise they need to help them achieve their goals in life,” Callahan said. “How can we continue to provide that service, that experience in a really relevant way? How can we use technology to empower a more meaningful relationship?”

According to a J.D. Power study, 78% of people want financial advice, but only 28% of people report getting that advice.

Callahan said when the bank did a soft launch in the fall, she expected fewer people to use it as they got older, but the initial results went against her expectations.

“It’s a simple app at its heart,” Callahan said. “A lot of the older generation is very connected, it may not be as intuitive for them, but it is a tool for them that they are using. It’s not a radically different technology — it’s texting. It’s that simple.”

Callahan said the bank is offering the app service separately and to non-customers so they can see that it is a real person on the other side, not a bot designed to respond like a person and to make it stand out.

“People kind of need to see it in action to believe that it’s real,” Callahan said. “We’re kind of trained at this point to know it’s not a real person.”

During the initial soft launch, Callahan said they were concerned about needing bankers to be available 24/7, but that wasn’t the case and that is repeated in the fine print of the app.

“Though Umpqua Bank intends to make the Chat Service available as often as possible, Umpqua Bank makes no warranty the Chat Service will, in whole or part, be available at any particular time, with any particular Agent, or be free of fault or error,” the fine print reads.

While the “Go-To” app is designed to be a communication tool, and not necessarily a replacement for daily banking needs, Callahan said the bankers can do pretty much everything in the other app and the plan is to combine the two apps into one.

“For me, it’s really opened the door to strengthen my relationship with my customers,” Yraguen said. “It allows them another channel that’s convenient for them to reach out to me. This has kind of opened that opportunity for them to continue to work with me. They know if they do have a question, they don’t have to call and guess who’s going to get it. I’ve built that trust so they can trust my answer.”

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