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How to adapt to the always-on generation

National Customer Service Week 2013: How to adapt to the always-on generation 

This week (7-11 October 2013) is National Customer Service Week which is a good time to look at the role today’s customer plays in reshaping financial services.   

Recent technology developments have radically changed customers’ expectations. Today’s customers expect to be able to access the services they need anytime, anywhere and on any device. Moreover, they require the products and services they are offered to be tailored to their needs. 

The financial industry is changing as well, with banks having to compete with the likes of PayPal for customers’ attention. However, the problem is that financial organisations lack the flexibility of online payments providers. Old legacy systems, siloed IT infrastructures and heavy regulatory pressures are just a few of the challenges facing today’s banks in their quest for attracting new customers and achieving business innovation. 

So how can financial organisations stay ahead of the competition and keep up with the changing needs of their customers? 

A recent report from the Institute of Customer Service suggested the general landscape of customer service is improving, but when it comes to customer experience, financial services organisations are far behind others, (eg telco providers) despite everyone making investments in IT. 

To be able to remain competitive in this rapidly changing market, banks need flexible IT systems that allow them to deliver a truly personalised, multichannel, customer-focused service. One way to achieve this is by deploying an agile layer of CRM applications managed from a single platform and driven by real-time analytics. This approach provides great cost efficiency and unrivalled flexibility as banks don’t need to rip and replace existing IT systems and can easily modify rules to accommodate business and regulatory changes as well as make offers or provide services that are aligned with each customers needs. 

Let’s take the PPI miss-selling scandal as an example. Banks invited customers to come to them with complaints so that they could handle the problem head-on. This led to mass employment of staff to manually deal with all of the complaints. Despite best intentions, banks found this approach wasn’t adaptive enough and held back time to resolution of cases and increased the chance of errors. So ironically, some banks’ complaints processing generated their own volume of complaints. 

The good news is that banks have realised they must improve their complaints handling processes.

With complaints being submitted through a variety of channels – on websites, over the phone, face-to-face, via mobile – capturing every one, without duplicates, and responding quickly, requires a single, central system. By streamlining the internal complaints handling process and leveraging situational analytics that enforce compliance requirements and professional standards, financial organisations can optimise the outcome of every customer interaction. As each case varies slightly, using an automated, centralised platform enables a personalised approach to different conditions. Automating processes ensures swifter resolution, a positive move for both the bank and customer. What’s more, following cases such as the PPI incident, well-designed, responsive and efficient complaints handling systems can help repair a bank’s bruised reputation. 

As technology continues to develop, banks need to understand not only the need to change internal systems, but the changing customer attitude. Customers expect immediate attention and without a coordinated, efficient system in place to deliver a personalised, flexible service, banks will find that they will simply go elsewhere. 

Banks now face potential new complaints about past mis-selling, for example packaged accounts. Hopefully the handling of these new problems will demonstrate that lessons have been learnt and will highlight the importance of investing in better, more flexible case management processes. 



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