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Pablo Navascués, Managing Director at Lionbridge 

Digital transformation has brought innovation and disruption across all industries. And while it creates fresh opportunities for businesses, like all forms of innovation it also carries an element of risk.

Companies in all sectors are now having to contend with the strategic implications of digital transformation for their organization. One of the biggest challenges they face is how to most effectively enhance the customer experience following a steady increase in expectations from the consumer.

Investment in digital is critical to success for the FSI sector

In many industries, the need to prioritize customer experience has long been recognized, but the financial services and insurance (FSI) sector remains slightly behind the curve: Regulatory constraints and sector-specific risks means that banks and insurers are traditionally fast followers rather than leaders when it comes to technological innovation. But the significant challenge presented by disruptive new players entering the market means that established FSI companies are now under a great deal of pressure to join the digital revolution and transform their own models.

FSI companies are therefore investing heavily in digital, and some businesses are beginning to experience the commercial benefits of digital transformation. In addition to the greater efficiency that comes from automating processes, FSI companies are starting to see how digitalizing their offering can help them to retain existing customers and win new business. And the most successful companies in this respect are those who focus on understanding the customer journey, developing the customer experience across all devices and delivering a more complete multichannel experience.

The customer experience is key

Recent research from Econsultancy on digital transformation in the FSI highlights a number of factors to consider when developing the customer experience and implementing a digital culture in the FSI space. The research looks at how businesses can differentiate their customer experience from that of their competitors. While other industries have for some time been placing the emphasis on delivering a great experience across all channels and devices––mobile, tablet and desktop––most companies in the FSI sector believe they are still at a relatively early stage of what Lynette Saunders, author of the Econsultancy report, calls the “journey to digital maturity”.

The research pinpoints some key points that the FSI sector must keep front of mind when implementing a unique customer experience strategy:

  • Listening to customers is crucial– Often, the people tasked with improving the customer experience aren’t out there speaking with the customer. Listening to feedback from customers is crucial to an understanding of their pain points; this in turn allows companies to improve the customer experience.
  • A personal experience is a memorable one– Make sure your business makes it mark by delivering personalized, targeted communications.
  • Invest time in profiling customers– It pays to understand how intelligence-gathering can help improve service to customers. Making them aware of the products most relevant to them, or drawing their attention to offers, can help in retaining their business.

Creating a digital culture

Another key concept that came out of the research was the importance of creating a digital culture in order to most effectively develop a strong customer experience strategy across all touch points. The business might have decided to invest in state-of-the-art technology, but success won’t come if the approach to managing this change is not effective. When implementing a digital culture,it is important to consider the following:

  • Ensure board buy-in–This kind of change in corporate culture needs to be pushed through the company from the top down. This means that the board must buy into the digital strategy and ensure it is being prioritized across all areas of the business.
  • Digital must be on the job spec for old and new employees – Ensuring workers have the right skillsets is crucial to implementing a digital working environment. It is important for the workforce to have both digital know-how and a holistic view of the customer experience.
  • Celebrate the small wins – It can take time to implement such a big change, so it’s important that even the “small wins” are celebrated. This will help people see the benefit of the new strategy and encourage them to keep at it.
  • Take a risk – Take an entrepreneurial approach when looking at challenges. In the digital age,solutions open up that differ from the “safe”,traditional approaches. If you are prepared to take the risk, you may be surprised by how much these solutions can benefit the business.
  • Be open to collaboration –Consider working with others: Forming fintech partnerships, alliances and joint ventures or supporting start-ups can help a business to bring new products and services to market more quickly.
  • Embrace the benefits of a test-and-learn approach A digital culture will ultimately be far more agile than previous working environments. Look into the possibility of creating innovation labs or spaces for people to work to identify new opportunities. Coming together as one to work on product development and adopting a user-centric design approach can enhance speed to market. Implementing a test-and-learn approach will help influence the direction and delivery of new products and services.

Consumers have come to expect a better customer experiences across all industries –from retail to leisure, and now in the FSI sector too. If financial services companies and insurers are to successfully meet the challenge of new, agile players entering the market, it is vital that they continue to invest significantly in digit also as to give customers the best possible experience.