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Customer obsession is the only way banks will survive

Being customer obsessed

We are in the age of the customer. A single tweet takes 22 minutes to go from insignificant to global, seen recently with Delta Airlines whose reputation was annihilated on social media and in the press. Who wants to be next in line?

To prevent this companies should become customer obsessed. Fred Giron, VP and Research Director at Forrester highlighted this whilst speaking at the recent thought leadership event, SunTec Confluence “a customer-obsessed enterprise focuses its strategy, operations, and budget to enhance its knowledge of and engagement with customers”. In doing so, business can keep up with customer demands and remain relevant in today’s competitive world.

Traditional enterprises need to follow the example of modern startups; they need to digitalise. By doing this they can offer innovative processes, deliver efficient services and provide relevant offers. The number of UK companies investing more than 15% of annual revenues in digital technology has grown from 10% to 24%. From John Lewis, which is spending £4m on its mobile platform to HSBC, which is investing £1.61bn into digital transformation, demonstrates this trend is occurring across different verticals.

Failure to digitalise allows new digitally enabled companies to enter, and conquer, the marketplace. In the Financial Services (FS) space this is becoming increasingly common as more FinTech companies, like the Challenger Banks, enter the space. Companies causing a stir include Monzo and Atom, which have seen dramatic customer acquisition and large investment rounds making them a very real threat to traditional banks.

The best way for companies to become customer obsessed is by implementing the six disciplines of design thinking, a business strategy based on treating the customers as individuals, which helps businesses develop new approaches and processes with their customers in mind.

■     Empathise - Build empathy through a shared understanding of the customer

■     Define - Identify the problem to solve

■     Ideate - Explore a range of solutions

■     Prototype - Prototype in increasing fidelity to build a shared understanding of the solution

■     Test - Seek frequent customer feedback to validate hypotheses

■     Analyse - Incorporate customer feedback for the next iteration

Using these design principles the enterprise can create the ‘perfect’ customer journey. One of the largest Asian banks used this philosophy, saving their customers 239 million hours of product searching/browsing time. This is just one of many benefits that an enterprise can gain from becoming truly customer obsessed.

Operational Reboot - Data Insights

Becoming digitally enabled, thereby customer obsessed, is not an easy process, digitalisation requires an operational reboot. This operational reboot is focused around increasing data availability and accessibility which the company can analyse and learn from. By obtaining additional data it helps companies to understand their customers, at the moment only 10% of companies are satisfied with their analytics. Additionally, one of the largest issues for banks with regards to digital transformation is the need for IT professionals with DevOps expertise, since a core part of this reboot will have a great amount of risk associated with the overhaul as old legacy systems contain vast quantities of sensitive data.

Research undertaken by Forrester found that business leaders are creating a new discipline called “systems of insight”, by fusing a customer obsessed mentality with technology to harness insights and consistently turn data into effective action. Digital insights lead to more intelligent engagement and better decisions to benefit the customer. The combination of people, process, and technology closes the gap between insights and action, as the business can now make more informed decisions about how to service their customer’s needs.

Becoming Agile

Not all digital systems are efficient, many traditional IT networks are based on legacy technology, found in high street banks at the moment, this technology is based on the waterfall method, where software is developed through a cascading series of tests on the data. This process is too slow for digitalised consumers. Preventing data analysis results in poor customer service. The latest process used by smart enterprises is an agile method, though it could be more buggy due to the speed in which data is spun up. However, the method is fast enough to deal with modern customer demands and seamlessly connected, which benefits data collection, enabling enterprises to produce real-time and accurate data.

Using an agile method not only helps with the user experience aspects, but allows enterprises to create partnerships and work with other companies, regardless of size. As additional legislation comes into play, such as PSD2, the requirement to create Open and sharing platforms is vital to remain relevant in today's competitive market. An agile process allows banks to create many open APIs (application programme interface), so third-party companies can work and use anonymised versions of a bank's data to help provide a more comprehensive and personalised service to their customers, thus providing increased value management.

Only customer obsessed companies will move forward in today’s world. To do this they need to take a leaf out of Netflix and Instagram’s book and build systems of insight to help them gather and analyse data in order to understand their customer’s needs. The companies of the future need to take into consideration technology’s ability to help them understand their customers before they onboard them, otherwise the incorrect offer may be applied. It’s vital for the executives of these businesses to set out clear goals for digital transformation, otherwise an inappropriate or inefficient system will have to be overhauled again in a couple of years or less, costing the enterprise even more time and resources.


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