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Addressing unmet banking needs

Time to read: 5 minutes to gain a different perspective

On a wet Sunday afternoon, I finally got around to ‘sorting out’ the loft. In our home, the loft is a sanctuary for old memories, captured in the form of books, papers, photos and other personal items. As I rummaged through an assortment of boxes, I picked up an old bank passbook. The passbook contained a mixture of hand-written and electronic entries that captured the various occasions I deposited and withdrew funds from my savings account. At the time of closure, my balance was a princely sum of £117.75.

Flicking through pages of the passbook, I reflected upon my own and my family’s needs, wants and feelings: the needs of today and those of tomorrow. I recalled the day I closed the account. The motivation for the closure was multifaceted; however, it was principally focused on the bank failing to meet my basic financial needs. I simply was not the same person who had opened an account with them several years’ prior, following the incentive of a welcome gift – a black sports bag. I was delighted at the time with receiving a free gift however with hindsight; it was a poor decision to open an account with that bank.

I fully acknowledged that one’s needs change as one moves through the various stages of life. I realised that the error of my bank was not only to fail to acknowledge and/or meet my basic needs at the time but also to anticipate my future financial needs.

// Unmet needs: a journey of value //

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be value” – Albert Einstein

We are surrounded by unmet needs: white spaces in which pioneers flourish, fuelled by innovation. Such innovation creates personalised experiences, products and services that make it possible for customers to do different things, or do existing things better; and to feel human and valued in an increasingly digital world. Tablets, social media, smart watches, GPS on phones, music streaming and contactless payments are all examples of innovation that met people’s needs and created new ones. Meeting the constant and evolving needs of consumers is akin to the journey of Ulysses (a hero from Greek mythology) – a journey beset with challenges that had to be navigated with foresight, innovation, teamwork and creativity.

Whilst Ulysses arrived home after his epic journey, many of his crew were not so lucky. Over the years, several organisations have fallen by the wayside – mainly due to the fact that these organisations failed to meet current and future needs of consumers, colleagues and partners. To illustrate, 51% of the FTSE companies registered in 1999 are no longer in operation.

Scary hey? - what are your thoughts on this?

// Imitate rather than innovate //

Far too often, industry leaders and product providers seek to develop products and services based upon their competitors rather than their customers’ needs. Failing to allow fringe ideas to develop and viewing the world through a biased lens based upon past experience will constrain innovation, and needs will remain unmet. We have entered a world where hyper-personalisation – based on 360-degree industries and human insights – is a positive differentiator.

The challenge that the industry face is one of relevance, necessitating ambition, bravery and timely execution. Open banking, competition-enhancing regulation and technological innovation have provided a platform from which customer-first strategies can be employed at pace. However, strategies that seek to imitate and not innovate increase the probability of sub-optimal business outcomes.

Are industry leaders prepared to make a conscious, unbiased effort to really understand people’s needs, innovating and developing strategies that address unmet needs to deliver exceptional experiences for customers and colleagues alike?

Please feel free to share your views on whether and to what extent you feel understood and valued by your banking and financial services provider.

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better. – Jeff Bezos


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