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Taking your bank into the next generation

By Mohamed Anis, AVP & Head of Sales and Client Services, Infosys Financial Services and Insurance (FSI) Europe

AnisFor banks, keeping pace with rapidly evolving customer expectations is not easy. Today’s digitally connected customers are demanding and expect their banks to be available 24 hours a day via Twitter, websites and mobile apps. This was reflected in our recent global survey which showed that 60 per cent of respondents want account and transaction information communicated via mobile alerts and 48 percent want valuable updates and insights provided through social media, email and events1. However, in this competitive banking environment, is synchronising mobile comms with online channels enough? The simple answer is no.

While many banks are comfortable with multichannel customer communications, the ‘innovations’ they’re creating – applications, websites, re-engineered call centers – are essentially extensions of what branches have been doing for hundreds of years. To drive long-term success, and attract and keep customers, banks need to embrace next-generation multichannel and this requires a fundamental rethink.

What, then, constitutes a fundamental re-think?
This is easier said than done, and before they begin, banks have to understand exactly what a fundamental re-think is. Firstly, a rethink should revolve around the two dimensions: rebuilding trust and customer centricity. Trust was, is and always will be essential to banks. With 77 per cent of consumers in the UK saying they would consider changing banks if one offered assurances that their data and money would be safer in their systems, trust and security cannot be taken lightly. However, banks need to understand that a customer’s trust is no longer limited to “I trust my bank to safeguard my money”. Instead, it has evolved into “I trust my bank to”:

  • Give honest and impartial advice
  • Help me (save or build wealth) to achieve my dreams,
  • Understand where I am and give me financial solutions that apply to me at that point in time
  • Help me in times of emergency
  • Give me a holistic experience and not just push their products on me

In short, multichannel banking needs to move on from “managing money” to enabling banks to “become a part of the customer’s life journey”.

Key steps on the path to rebuilding trust and customer centricity
To make this leap to next-generation multichannel from a customer perspective, banks must first unify all channels into one. This means enabling customers to do everything over a single channel or, if required, move seamlessly between channels to accomplish their objectives. Moreover, all channel-based interactions need to be rich, relevant and timely, thereby establishing in customers a deep belief that the bank is working on their behalf to deliver the best value.

When it comes to technology, banks need to adopt a ‘bottom-up’ view. We have seen banks jump on the “let’s get a great app out” bandwagon without also thinking about how it will impact their core banking systems. Banks must first “strengthen their core” by cashing in on their most critical asset – data. To do this, they need to follow a discover-to-decision lifecycle involving the real-time discovery and aggregation of data from a variety of channels, such as social media, documents and staff, analyses to rapidly gain insights, visualisation of available options and operationalisation of decisions. This lifecycle can help banks take insight-based decision-making not just into the introduction of relevant new apps but also when entering new markets, monetising data and managing data for the long-term.

In addition, banks need to streamline their “middle”, which means transforming the typically large number of complex processes to make them simpler, configurable and more relevant to the customer. Different processes should be carefully grouped to administer a combination of everyday banking, advisory and innovative services, thereby providing the customer with a holistic experience.

Lastly, banks should look at how employees need to be educated to support this rethink. Banks need to drive customer-centric behavior among their employees. They can use tangible initiatives, such as developing a “Net Promoter Score” or NPS, to measure employee progress and enable banks to recognise and celebrate customer champions. It’s only by getting employees onboard to put this rethink into action that it can have a long lasting impact on customers and the brand.

Building processes into the business
Banks should look to unify all of these approaches with the creation of an integrated, end-to-end infrastructure platform that harnesses the latest technologies to enable digital commerce. Besides being configurable, scalable, modular and cloud-based, the platform needs to leverage big data analytics, data management and multichannel capabilities to offer the bank a single, comprehensive view of the customer and provide the insights required to deliver targeted innovations at customers.

Furthermore, for the long term success of next generation multichannel banks should look to invest in and build an executional ecosystem. This involves using its infrastructure platform to create a digital ecosystem consisting of social channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, payments hubs such as Google and Amazon, business partners such as governments, merchants and utilities, as well as content delivery tools. These ecosystems not only allow banks to streamline their interactions with partners and suppliers but also drive collaboration and innovation such as new customer offerings.

Take your multichannel journey forward, without leaving your customers behind
While all customers expect a good service from their bank, they still like to feel like they’re calling the shots. So, while implementing next-generation strategies will build closer and more profitable relationships in the long-run, banks need ensure their customers feel they’re on the same journey as the bank. For example, it is not always a good idea to move all customers from branches banking just because the other channels, such as online, are cheaper. Our survey showed that 87 percent of customers still indicate a preference to share their personal details face-to-face, rather than through digital channels – to force them onto an online channel may only push them to choose another bank. It’s only by taking a new, yet unified approach to their customer communications, IT infrastructure and employee engagement, that banks can truly establish a ‘next generation’ multichannel strategy, and reap the benefits it has to offer.