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Actions speak louder than words: Why legacy banks need to do rather than say to improve their CX

Actions speak louder than words: Why legacy banks need to do rather than say to improve their CX

By Roy Capon, CEO at Zone

When NatWest recently unveiled its new brand platform ‘Tomorrow Begins Today’, it highlighted again for me the real underlying need that the UK ‘high street’ banks (if there is such a thing today) really need to address.

‘Tomorrow Begins Today’ has an optimistic view to ‘champion the potential’ of individuals, families and businesses. The TV spot articulates the promise that NatWest will ‘empower you to take small steps every day to help you get where you want to be.’

While I have nothing directly against NatWest, the well-executed campaign or the brand promise, the real challenge I have is what will they actually do for me? It seems like I’m going to get another banking app that can help me save. But what is really new here? Apps to help me save and set goals have been around for as long as banks themselves, so what is different or innovative?

I hold strongly the belief that doing has a far greater impact than just saying. Real progress for any business should be measured against tangible outcomes which are enabled by deeply understanding their customers (and employees), putting their needs first, and creating new, differentiated products or services.

This is what their digital-native challengers like Monzo and Starling are doing, so why can’t they?

The distinguishing features of these challenger banks revolves around providing simplified, frictionless, digital and cloud-enabled experiences. They solve core pain points in the journey, as well as create new products and services, targeting specific customer segments that address really specific customer needs. It is the ability to create what feels like highly relevant, personalised experiences at scale that sets them apart.

Old journeys like needing to sign paper ‘contracts’, wading through endless terms and conditions that seem to be written in ancient Hebrew rather than plain English, or having to show several forms of ID physically in-branch, have all been made more efficient, more natural and more customer-centric – things I can actually do from the comfort of my sofa. Banking today can rightly be on my terms, not the bank’s.

The bad news for all industries today is that our experience expectation is not sector specific – we judge our experiences with banks, utilities, retailers, airlines, etc. against the experiences we have with a Netflix, an Apple or an Amazon.

So I’m not specifically bank-‘bashing’ here. But my biggest concern is that nothing is holding the banks, or any industries, back from competing with the more nimble, digital-native challengers. All the technology to enable better journeys and experiences exists – the only thing really holding them back is themselves.

Old systems and processes, outdated technologies and platforms, siloed organisational structures, the ability to access the right data at the right time (in one place) are the biggest obstacles for the banks and all big business today.

The tragedy is that if you speak to most banks there’s a belief that their product and service penetration is around 1.2 – meaning that very few banks believe they have sold more than one product to their customers. But how do they actually know this to be true? I have five products with my bank (not that they would know this) – current account, savings, car insurance, my mobile app and pension. Do you think they have ever acknowledged this with me? No. Why? Because they really don’t know me.

This is where digital challengers are eating the big legacy companies for breakfast (lunch and dinner). Having embraced technology and being digital from the start, they’ve been able to succeed and their rapid customer growth in recent years is testament to this. But there is a lifeline for legacy banks. They have much longer-term customer relationships, they have enough data on me to really deeply know me and maybe, most importantly, they have trust.

At Zone, we believe the core challenge of meeting customer expectations, creating world-class experiences and building trust requires leadership and connection across the whole business, through all the enablement layers: employees, data, platforms and technologies, business processes and organisational structure. And maybe more importantly, leadership is about doing, not saying.

For legacy banks it’s time to let actions do the talking. Succeeding in this would help them drive forward the whole sector into the promise of ‘tomorrow.’

Global Banking & Finance Review


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