In today’s economy the financial sector is under ever increasing pressure from all angles. Consumers are insisting on better value; competition continues to rise as international and fresher, more digitally focused challengers enter the market; and the financial regulator is scrutinising everything you do. The net result is that financial services organisations are under increasing pressure to improve the way they operate and engage with their markets, cross and up-sell their products and services, while ensuring they remain compliant with all regulations.
With this in mind it is perhaps unsurprising that they are turning to technology, particularly customer relationship management (CRM) software and content management systems (CMS), to help deal with the increasing demands placed on them. In recent months we have implemented bespoke business applications for a number of financial services companies including EBS and the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) in Ireland, a country still paying for the crisis’ legacy.
As everyone knows, technology is advancing at an exponential rate, with new gizmos and gadgets breaking onto the scene every month. The risk for many organisations, not just those in financial services, is getting on the band wagon and adopting such new technologies without a clear vision of the benefits they hold for your organisation or their compatibility with the existing IT infrastructure. To help provide some clarity, here are some of the main drivers for CRM in finance services:
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Ask any manager where most of their time is taken up day-to-day and I guarantee you most will put the blame on tracking and meeting its regulatory commitments. The workload in this area has grown massively to the point that it is now the biggest area of growth in Financial Services. Managing these duties requires tools that are able to force and prove compliance. Using open source CMS applications or CRM software, such as vTiger, you can automate a large amount of your regulatory commitments, developing set processes to ensure they are adhered to, while saving a significant amount of time that can be better spent on activities that increase the company’s bottom line.
Additionally, the rising popularity of “Big Data” is a factor that must be taken into account. With information coming from an ever increasing number of channels, identifying and interpreting all this data is becoming more and more difficult. With all this data come increasingly stringent data protection laws, governing how it must be used, stored and destroyed and the penalties and fines for non-compliance are severe. Automating all such regulatory processes and policies would be a mind bending feat without the assistance of automation software such as VTiger.
Now that the economy appears to be moving in the right direction once more, bankers, insurance providers and so on are all looking at how they can attract new customers, while retaining the ones they have. While they all realise the importance of being client focused and delivering a better service, some still struggle to put it into practice. The introduction of a bespoke CRM system here should be a no brainer. By centralising your customer data, recording and updating their information – likes, dislikes, recent purchase or services acquired, etc. – you can significantly improve the service your company offers its clients. For the customer it means no more annoying sales calls about products and services they’ve no interest in. For your organisation it means a more streamlined sales process, where staff can anticipate the needs of your customers, resulting in more opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell to more satisfied customers.
As I mentioned in my first point, improving customer focus is at the top of most financial services organisation’s priority lists. Adjusting to the rate of change in consumer technologies is another huge challenge for companies in this space. Today’s consumer expects to switch freely between their mobile device and their laptop or desktop, without and deviation in the quality of the service they receive. Moreover, if they have performed actions through these channels, they expect immediate recognition of the transaction should they opt to call or visit your business face-to-face. Integrating all these technologies requires a solid CRM system that will streamline key customer touch points such as client on-boarding and case escalation, while facilitating the introduction of new technologies and channels.
RohitThakral is chief executive of Target Integration, an open source software company that specialises in providing CRM and ERP software across the UK, Ireland and India. www.targetintegration.com