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Personalised customer service- myth or achievable goal?

A piece in Times that I read last week offered an inspirational example of how financial services providers can achieve business transformation by fostering personalised relationships with customers and proactively addressing their needs. The article, written by Richard Banks, chief executive of UK Asset Resolution, described how the company is tackling debt issues by proactively focusing on helping customers struggling with their payments. 

Proactively calling up customers who ask for interest only mortgages, are regularly delaying payments or cancel a direct debit is a great way to tackle debt before it has reached a critical level, causing financial losses for both the bank and the customer. Furthermore, this approach offers a great personalisation of service and enables financial organisations to tackle customer issues on a case by case basis. 

It’s great to see a financial institution operating in a customer centric way and taking a responsible attitude towards its customers and the government lending it has received.  However, it is important to understand what’s been holding banks back for so long from achieving such personalisation of customer service. Quite often the reason behind banks’ inability to meet the highest customer service standards lies not in the lack of will on behalf of the management, but in the limited technological capabilities of outdated legacy systems and CRM solutions. To overcome these challenges banks need to automate decisioning at the customer service coalface and empower their front line staff with the best CRM tools to effectively serve their customers. This means that the will to get customer service right needs to be matched by information management systems that are inherently customer centric. 

All banks could operate in this way if they had the right software to enable them to do it. 

By adopting a customer centric approach that directly links business objectives with customers’ needs, financial institutions will be able to achieve the needed competitive edge that drives customer growth and retention.  This approach requires creating a process-centric IT framework that manages all customer interactions through a single platform and aligns business processes with front line activities such as customer service, client on-boarding, cross-selling and up-selling practices. 

Such an approach will enable banks to better monitor all customer activities and interactions and quickly identify problematic issues or cases that need to be proactively addressed. Furthermore, by marrying process-automation and customer data with predictive analytics, organisations will be able to act upon new trends, customer needs and emerging market opportunities ahead of time, offering superior customer service and staying ahead of their competitors.   


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