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Over the past few years the retail banking sector has seen unprecedented change. Along with increased regulation, the separation of retail and investment banking and new, challenger banks, the customer themselves have become a challenge. Customers want banks to engage with them on their terms, and through the channels most convenient to them. This has seen a drop in the number of bank branches and a rise in new channels such as online and mobile banking. Banks are now even responding to customer complaints through social media. Moreover, with switching current accounts easier than ever, competition for customers is fierce.

These new expectations mean that many legacy customer relationship management (CRM) systems are just that, a legacy that is no longer fit for purpose. Now banks need to be able to give customers the same level of service through any and every channel. From the first tweet, call, e-mail or handshake, to the opening of a bank account or mortgage application, every touch point a bank has with a potential or existing customer should be seen as an opportunity to learn something. This can then be used to serve that customer better and faster. Banks’ customers expect instant responses and a personalised service. They want all the facts they need to make a decision right then and there and legacy CRM systems are not able to deliver this.

Going Beyond CRM

The future of customer engagement goes beyond traditional CRM. Managing customer calls, communication and sales is just one small component of a broader, more complex customer story in banking. For a digital enterprise, as banks now most definitely are, systems that manage customer interaction have to be more sophisticated. Findings from a recent Loudhouse survey of 800 sales leaders worldwide, including in the banking sector, found that 73% of respondents believe their systems need overhauling now. As customers have become more sophisticated, so must banks’ CRM systems. In fact, they saw this as so critical that 72% believe that a failure to improve it was an impediment to business growth.

Those technology pace-setters in the banking space who have embraced digital transformation have been quick to invest in systems which they can integrate holistically across their daily operations, rather than solutions that are tied to one particular function. Having an overview is essential – 72% of those surveyed said that the inability to get a single view of the customer across all channels was a major frustration of the sales process.  Such implementations have the potential to impact not only sales, but almost all of a bank’s operations, from cashiering to account opening to mortgage processing, as well as staff communication.

One Client, One Bank

The National Bank of Canada (NBC) recently implemented this new holistic approach to CRM. The sixth-largest bank in Canada, it provides a full range of banking services to individuals and institutions, including mortgages and other forms of loans. For the last five years or so, the bank has run a strategic program called “One client, one bank”. With that, NBC resolves to deliver the ultimate unified experience to their customers, redefining its customer value proposition.

Providing the best in customer service is paramount for NBC, but the legacy software in place to support mortgage origination made it a challenge to provide quality service. The six sales channels through which the bank offered homeowner mortgages had the potential to deliver six different loan offers. Siloed applications and manual processes caused delays and errors. This was especially unwelcome when customers needed a smooth, simple experience to help them make potentially the biggest investment of their lives. NBC knew that it had to replace the silos with a single, powerful, integrated CRM solution.

Before beginning the deployment, the bank decided not to customise the new CRM solution to fit its existing processes, but to adapt the way it did business to conform to the application’s best practices. This approach made it easier to standardise and integrate processes bank-wide, simplify them for customers and advisors alike, and introduce automation to speed up processes and improve efficiency.

The bank also extended the CRM system to its mobile sales force, taking advantage of enterprise mobility and remote connectivity. Such a step ensures that NBC can connect with its customers across every channel. Crucially, it enables the bank to meet customers’ needs and expectations consistently – regardless of their point of entry into the bank.

Engaging with the future

As consumer technology evolves, customer expectations of corporate technology and service will only grow. Banks must have a holistic approach to customer engagement; a bank is only as strong as its customer base and they must be kept happy. A technology solution that will help banks better understand and meet the needs of its customers is the only way to stand out from the competition and thrive in this new reality.