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How Retail Banking is Responding to the Age of Customer-centricity

Customer experience is of paramount importance to companies across all industries. No longer does a bank only have to consider how its customer service measures up to rival banks, it’s also compared to that provided by retailers, telcos and companies in the hospitality space. The implication being, to stay ahead of the pack, financial services firms must focus on delivering an improved customer experience and leverage it as a competitive differentiator.

Last year the CMA issued a report which concluded that older, larger banks do not have to compete hard enough for customers’ business, and that smaller, newer banks find it difficult to grow. However, new measures set to be introduced by the authority will see all banks having to work harder for their customers. The CMA has paved the way for an Open Banking revolution, giving customers greater control over their personal finances. Customers will be able to share information about how they operate their bank account with organisations that will work to deliver an enhanced banking experience. Current account customers will find it easier to manage their finances, source the best deal and avoid overdraft charges. 

These proposals have been much welcomed as in financial services the tipping points of customer dissatisfaction are simply more acute. It’s difficult not to get emotional as a customer when the handling of your own money or your debit and credit cards is involved. Customers like to feel that they’re interacting with ‘their bank,’ that being one entity not disparate departments within the same organisation. But the reality is often the latter, which makes it imperative for banks to focus on providing a seamless, connected experience across all of its customer touch points. The need for companies to keep up with this pace of change has given rise to the term ‘Responsive Organisation,’ and it has also sparked a movement. Incumbents can now be disrupted by the introduction of new technology that enables a new way of doing business. Technology can enable much of the internal change needed that allows companies to be more responsive. And this is where digital platform technologies can help.

Transforming operations through continuous innovation can ensure that customers are always satisfied, protecting the business, attracting and converting new prospects and enhancing brand reputation in the process. After all, the truly ‘Responsive Bank’ knows that it can no longer afford to keep customers waiting for better service.


The race for the empowered customer starts here

More than ever before, today’s customers know what they want and how to go about getting it. To keep pace, it isn’t just about offering great service but a strategy based on ensuring the customer comes first and is at the heart of the business.

For retail banks, this means analysing and overhauling the digital processes that make up the customer journey to provide a truly integrated experience across branch, telephone and online. If all channels are connected, customers can begin their interaction on one channel and complete it on another in a refreshingly joined-up fashion. The responsive bank should deliver seamless experiences that increase convenience and engagement, and represent the business consistently each time. And, of course, it’s not just winning new customers that’s important – it’s retaining them and doing everything possible to transform them into brand advocates. 

It’s therefore important to take into account all available and meaningful information about the customer to drive better engagement, gain more revenue and increase long-term loyalty. Not only will customers feel that they are understood, employees will be better equipped to serve them through having the right data at their fingertips. This in turn reduces negative online buzz, restores trust in banks, and reduces the likelihood of customer attrition. 


Be nimble by nature

Traditional retail banks are hampered by the rigidity of legacy systems which hold them back them in this ever-evolving regulatory landscape, challenging marketplace and the service expectations of customers. This is where digital platform technologies can spark real change with ease.

New technology can help orchestrate and integrate existing systems, people and processes. A digital process automation layer is wrapped around existing IT systems processes, bringing siloed systems together and providing the flexibility and control required to compete in the digital economy.

The effects of this for retail banks, and other financial services institutions, are both internal and external. They now have access to a suite of digital solutions that enable employees to engage better with each other and customers, while applying the right insight and the right context at the right time will only improve the customer experience.


A joined-up approach will boost customer advocacy for good

The financial services industry is going through unprecedented change and traditional providers have had to rethink how they operate, particularly when it comes to providing an exceptional customer experience across an array of constantly changing financial products.

With this in mind, it’s important to ensure enterprise-wide commitment to providing digital operational excellence. Only then will customers enjoy the same brand experience wherever and whenever they interact with their bank.


Customer service fails have been well-publicised and the industry has not only taken notice but taken action. Case in point, Old Mutual embarked on a business transformation initiative with one aim: to put the customer first. The starting point was to reduce the customer waiting time across branches and boost NPS by enabling sales advisors to make personalised recommendations across all relevant products or services. This was achieved by wrapping siloed legacy systems with a digital process automation layer, delivering a 360-degree view of the customer across any device, then using that insight to intelligently recommend financial service products to the customer based on their specific context.

As with other industries, all facets of financial services are becoming increasingly digitised. New technologies and capabilities that are focused on returning the customer to the heart of the business will revolutionise the industry. In any industry there will be winners and losers and those that best accommodate these changes are the ones that will come out on top.




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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

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