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Five steps to achieving the Amazon effect within financial services

With Amazon, people can buy what they want, when they want. They can get it delivered at a time that suits them and can track their orders throughout the entire procurement process. This style of service has completely changed the way the retail world operates and is now having a knock-on effect on the financial services arena too. Why? Because companies like Amazon have raised the bar when it comes to service levels and re-set consumer expectations.

So, what can financial services organisations of today do about translating the so-called ‘Amazon effect’ to their offerings, to build and deliver effective digital services which ensure they are engaging and attracting consumers today and tomorrow?

Step 1: Build an effective and engaging digital platform

Digital platforms are the shop front of any business. So, if it doesn’t attract or communicate your core values and offerings to your customers simply and effectively, they will go to a competitor that does. Digital platforms must be created with design-led thinking and a user-centric approach with a human touch that puts the end-customer at the heart of the platform design. All too often, digital platforms including financial services, promote form over function, meaning customer loyalty can come second to an attractive but difficult to use service.

Security must also be integral when building a digital platform, particularly as consumers become increasingly security conscious. While it may seem an additional hurdle to factor into the process, ‘security by design’ it just as important as the aesthetics of any platform and treating it as an add-on or not giving it enough consideration throughout the process, could make or break any digital platform. Repeated security flaws or regular downtime could see consumers going elsewhere.

To help maintain customer loyalty and overcome security hurdles, many financial services providers have adopted a cloud services approach to remove legacy IT silos, enabling them to become more agile, scalable and accessible when it comes to adopting new digital-led services. In fact, recent research by Ubuntu and Canonical revealed that more than three-quarters of financial services businesses (77%) expect to be using some form of cloud platform as their primary environment within the next two years[1].

Step 2: Use data to deliver personalised value-added services

As digital offerings mature, financial services providers can gain valuable insights to build customer behavioural profiles and understand consumer preferences. This information is invaluable to understanding customer demands that providers can use to plug gaps in current product offerings and adapt customer engagement methods to be personalised, direct and effective. In turn, this will encourage greater customer retention due to simplified and user-centric means of communication.

Step 3: Measure digital effectiveness

With steps one and two in place, financial services providers cannot afford to sit back and relax. Organisations must continue to measure, analyse and evolve digital offerings to remain agile and competitive. Technology is just the start and through data insights it can be a real enabler for future business growth. For example, monitoring and measuring digital channel usage, particularly in terms of drop off rates and usage trends, will allow businesses to see where customers are most engaged and which services and platforms are resonating with them and how they like to interact with their provider. This level of insight ensures financial service providers can be more strategic and dynamic in their digital offerings and are able to support key trends or address issues in a timely manner, rather than wait for negative customer satisfaction survey results.

Step 4: Schedule regular project delivery reviews

Just like with digital measurement and monitoring of channel usage, there must be regular interim reviews scheduled to review and define what has been achieved and what milestones are yet to be realised. This should be done by the delivery team on a weekly basis to ensure the project stays on track, but formal review sessions with wider stakeholders must be scheduled on a monthly to quarterly basis, depending on the stage of the project. This provides an opportunity for the delivery team and wider stakeholders to review progress, highlight and address current challenges, but also to define new goals and areas of focus.

Step 5: Adapt offerings

There’s no denying the digital landscape has consumed the majority, if not all, aspects of our lives. Financial service providers have a great opportunity to diversify product offerings and directly connect with customers that weren’t possible before. However, consumers everyday lives are ruled by the consumption of information and services online, so the industry needs to be innovative and relevant to stand out above the noise.

If financial service providers don’t follow the fundamental steps for developing their digital offerings or make efforts to adapt their current digital strategy, they will fail to remain competitive or appeal to demanding consumers who will simply switch allegiance to more agile and innovative challenger brands. At the end of the day, consumers are on the lookout for financial service providers that can easily fit in with their busy, digital-driven lives, and make interactions as smooth and straightforward as possible. 





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