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Consistency: The Key to Cracking Customer Experience for High-Street Banks

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Consistency: The Key to Cracking Customer Experience for High-Street Banks

Carl Helling, Regional Director, Financial Services, UK & Ireland at Riverbed Technology

In recent years, retail banks have found themselves at the cutting edge of technology. With customers expecting digital services at their fingertips, there is a universal expectancy for a high level of efficiency in their customer engagement. However, it is no longer just the city-slickers that expect a tech-centric approach to customer service, customers from all regions of the country have a high level of expectations.

The technological upkeep of financial services are so pivotal to the regular consumer’s day-to-day life. During daily digital interactions, if high street banks are found to be wanting in the tech department, they will quickly find themselves losing valuable customers.

This can be a headache for technology stakeholders in financial organisations, who have limited resources to invest in the more rural locations. For this reason, financial institutions must re-evaluate their entire approach to infrastructure visibility, to ensure all branches are providing a sufficient level of service across the board.

The Countryside Divide

It’s common to find branches in Central London delivering a seamless digital offering for customers, featuring the full roster of tablets and Direct Banking Booths (DBB) to streamline the customer experience. This frees up time for staff to perform the high value, face-to-face services such as mortgage applications and account management.

While this is often delivered in the bigger, city based high street branches, there is still an issue with consistency, with many smaller communities losing out on the same level of technological advancements in their smaller high street locations. In contrast, a branch located in a small village in West Sussex, with much lower funding, is not able to provide the same digital experience.

This failure to apply the same benefits at a regional level instantly damages customer satisfaction of those who expect the tech-driven approach offered by the lead branches, as well as making it harder for the employers working in those branches in terms of productivity levels and efficiency.

Realistically, it would be impossible for banks to offer the high investment of all singing, all dancing tech driven branches across the retail network. However, by making simple changes, the benefits of widespread digital transformation can be uncovered. After all, these branches constitute a significant proportion of annual revenue — simply ignoring them is not an option.

The Visibility Solution

Visibility of customer and employee experience across all digital channels within branch, partnered with hyper converged infrastructure holds the key. By making tweaks to your IT estate, branches further away from central headquarters and the core data centre will be able to deliver the same applications and services to their customers. Not only does this mean instant provisioning of resource to meet customer demand, it also ensures full visibility over performance.

Ultimately, without making a huge investment, banks can ensure that their smaller branches and their customers are not neglected. The key thing to consider is that incremental changes can have a huge impact to digital performance. This is a vital factor, as most banks have already invested in their IT portfolio to the point that it is perfectly capable of delivering the results required.

However, many businesses are beginning to realise that multiple flash investments aren’t guaranteed to deliver the service utopia they are pursuing. By making the right tweaks in the right areas, customer experience can be transformed. However for this to happen, there must be complete visibility of the IT estate. In this way, without making a huge investment, banks can ensure that their smaller branches and their customers are not neglected.

Banking

Commerzbank to lose 1.7 million clients by 2024 – Welt am Sonntag

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Commerzbank to lose 1.7 million clients by 2024 - Welt am Sonntag 1

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Commerzbank expects to lose 1.7 million customers by 2024 as part of its current restructuring, resulting in a 300 million euro ($364 million) hit to revenue, weekly Welt am Sonntag reported, citing sources close to the bank.

The lender hopes to offset the drop by growing its loan business as well as by expanding its business with corporate and very wealthy clients, the report said, without giving any further detail of why customer numbers were expected to decline.

It also didn’t say if any specific category of client was most likely to be lost.

Commerzbank declined to comment.

According to the bank’s website it serves around 11.6 million private and small-business customers in Germany and more than 70,000 corporate and other institutional clients worldwide, so the reported loss of customers would suggest a drop of around 15%.

The bank earlier this month reported a $3.3 billion fourth-quarter loss, sinking further into the red as it continued a major restructuring and dealt with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bank’s restructuring plan involves cutting 10,000 jobs and closing hundreds of branches in the hope it can remain independent.

($1 = 0.8253 euros)

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Tom Sims; Editing by David Holmes)

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Banking

Citigroup considering divestiture of some foreign consumer units – Bloomberg Law

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Citigroup considering divestiture of some foreign consumer units - Bloomberg Law 2

(Reuters) – Citigroup Inc is considering divesting some international consumer units, Bloomberg Law reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The discussions are around divesting units across retail banking in the Asia-Pacific region, the report https://bit.ly/3pD57WP said.

“As our incoming CEO Jane Fraser said in January, we are undertaking a dispassionate and thorough review of our strategy,” a Citigroup spokesperson told Reuters.

“Many different options are being considered and we will take the right amount of time before making any decisions.”

The move, part of Fraser’s attempt to simplify the bank, can see units in South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia being divested, the Bloomberg report said.

However, no decision has been made, according to the report.

Revenue from Citi’s consumer banking business in Asia declined 15% to $1.55 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The divestitures could be spaced out over time or the bank could end up keeping all of its existing units, the Bloomberg report said.

The firm is also reviewing consumer operations in Mexico, though a sale there is less likely, the report said, citing one of the people.

Last month, New York-based Citigroup beat profit estimates but issued a gloomy forecast for expenses. Finance head Mark Mason said the lender’s expenses could rise in 2021 in the range of 2% to 3%, weighing on its operating margins. (https://reut.rs/2ZwXRB1)

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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European shares end higher on strong earnings, positive data

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European shares end higher on strong earnings, positive data 3

By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Ambar Warrick

(Reuters) – Euro zone shares rose on Friday, marking a third week of gains, as data showed factory activity in February jumped to a three-year high, while upbeat quarterly earnings boosted confidence in a broader economic recovery.

The euro zone index was up 0.9%, with strong earnings from companies such as Acciona and Hermes brewing some optimism over an eventual economic recovery.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.5%, as regional factory activity was seen reaching a three-year high on strong demand for manufactured goods at home and overseas.

Another reading showed the euro zone’s current account surplus widened in December on a rise in trade surplus and a narrower deficit in secondary income.

Still, the STOXX 600 marked small gains for the week, having dropped for the past three sessions as investor concern grew over rising inflation and a rocky COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

But basic resources stocks outpaced their peers this week with a 7% jump, as improving industrial activity across the globe drove up commodity prices.

“This week’s slightly adverse price action has all the hallmarks of a loss of momentum temporarily and not a structural turn,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“There is not a major central bank in the world thinking about taking their foot off the monetary spigot, except perhaps China. (Markets) will remain awash in zero percent central bank money through all of 2021 (and) a lot of that will head to the equity market.”

Minutes of the European Central Bank’s January meeting, released on Thursday, showed policymakers expressed fresh concerns over the euro’s strength but appeared relaxed over the recent rise in government bond yields.

The bank’s relaxed stance was justified by the euro zone economy requiring continued monetary and fiscal support, as evidenced by a contraction in the bloc’s dominant services industry in February.

The STOXX 600 has rebounded more than 50% since crashing to multi-year lows in March 2020, with hopes of a global economic rebound this year sparking demand for sectors such as energy, mining, banks and industrial goods.

London’s FTSE 100 lagged regional bourses on Friday due to a slump in January retail sales and as the pound jumped to its highest against the dollar in nearly three years. [.L] [GBP/]

French carmaker Renault tumbled more than 4% after posting a record annual loss of 8 billion euros ($9.68 billion), while food group Danone and German insurer Allianz rose following upbeat trading forecasts.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shailesh Kuber)

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