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Why ‘big data’ could be the answer to addressing banking customer service

Mike Hughes

By Mike Hughes, managing director for European operations at intuitive consumer experience firm [24]7

Customer service in the financial sector hasn’t always enjoyed the best of reputations. Whilst this reputation is not entirely justified, it is true to say that whilst other industries have embraced technology for customer service, FS organisations have been slow to do so. There has been a fundamental shift in customer expectations. Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to connect to the web use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and they expect to interact with organisations at their convenience, using smart mobile devices and employing multiple channels.  Recent research from Ovum suggests that 74% of consumers employ three different channels to resolve customer service issues. In too many cases, each communication channel operates in a silo, keeping it isolated from vital data and interactions the customer may have made through an alternate channel. Mike Hughes

The answer lies not just in adding more and more channels through which to communicate, but also in analysing the data gleaned from those channels and predicting what consumers want, regardless of which channel they choose to interact.  When applied to areas such as customer loyalty and reduction of customer effort, the application of predictive analytics and interactions driven by intuitive communication models can reap great rewards for banks.

Not making the most of new channels
Part of the challenge for the financial services industry is that customers’ expectations have changed. Computing and communications technologies have advanced to the extent that customers now have the opportunity to reach out to their bank in a number of ways, 24 hours a day, through web self-service, social media and mobile phone apps. The access is right at their fingertips and customers expect the same rapid and intuitive experience from the organisation they contact as can be found on the smart devices they use to communicate with.

The challenge is to integrate the information received through the various channels and approach the problem holistically, from the customer perspective. Addressing the issue of multi-channel interactions, experts have started to talk about the Single Customer View (SCV); a recent Experian Marketing Services study suggests only 25% of FS organisations are addressing the SCV as a priority. New channels such as web self-service, social media and mobile phone apps were intended to reduce the volume of customer service calls, but this hasn’t happened. Channel information needs to be fully integrated and approached from the consumer perspective.

Not enough is being done to address the opportunity of customer-centric communications which offer a seamless service across multiple channels. As well as the benefit of positive customer service, the data gained from such a solution allows an FS organisation to get a picture of the “real” customer and gain an understanding of how to fulfil their needs.

Banks need to develop this seamless experience to ensure that the customer is taken through the same simple steps regardless of whether they’re visiting a branch, engaging online, speaking to a representative on the telephone or a combination of these. Most banks already have all the data they need to deliver a modern and intuitive service which could make their customers’ lives easier.

Delivering a predictive experience
[24]7 works with a number of banks to deliver a predictive experience for customers which anticipates their requirements to smooth the path of their interaction. This is done by analysing the customer data and developing smart models which learn to adapt and intuit customer needs. Using these big data techniques to reduce customer effort will pay dividends in brand loyalty and reduced resources required for managing enquiries and complaints. However, the benefits can also extend into the development of a platform which can support cross-selling and upselling as the system learns to understand customer requirements and patterns and can suggest relevant complementary financial products and services.

Ultimately, modelling the customer journey has benefits for the customer and the bank. For example, if a customer has recently obtained a new loan, their next interactions will likely be about their first statement, automatic payments, and transferring funds between accounts. The system can make a reasonable estimate as to their likely requirements and appropriate product or service options can be presented in a timely fashion, rather than bombarding each visitor with irrelevant marketing offers in the hope that one will hit the mark.

At [24]7 we have a data analysis model that allows us to develop a continually learning model which adapts incrementally as customer behaviour changes over time. Our company ethos is – Anticipate, Simplify, Learn – which highlights our focus on customer needs. The last element – Learning – is not only causing a revolution in customer service today but also guarantees the future evolution of positive customer service channels which change with the needs and expectations of customers.

Those who don’t keep pace with their customers may find that the only revolution they experience is the dramatic loss of customers who turn elsewhere. Whether in-branch or online, the smarter revolution of engagement lies within the grasp of all FS organisations. If they make use of the data they already have to make their customers’ lives easier, loyalty will grow and the profits will follow.

Banking

UBX appoints new Chief Investment Officer

In line with its strategy to explore and invest in companies and platforms of the future, UBX—the Fintech and Corporate Venture Capital arm of Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) — is announcing the appointment of Matthew Kolling as the company’s Chief Investment Officer (CIO).

Matt Kolling

Matt Kolling

As CIO, Kolling will be managing UBX’s Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) fund. He will also play a key role in raising capital for UBX while assisting the company in key corporate transactions, including the structuring of joint ventures and acquisitions.

Prior to his appointment at UBX, Kolling has been Head of Venture Investments at Aboitiz & Company since 2019, wherein he had been working with UBX on investment portfolio decisions. Before that, he held senior positions in Private Equity, Venture Capital, and Investment Banking at firms such as Providence Equity Partners and Morgan Stanley in New York.

Kolling has more than 20 years of experience in managing investments and deals in the Technology and Telecommunications industries and is active in Venture Capital and startup communities in the Philippines and the Southeast Asian region. He currently chairs the Manila Angel Investors Network, among others.

“We at UBX are excited to welcome Matt as our new CIO. We firmly believe that Matt will be instrumental in driving value creation opportunities, both within the CVC fund and our corporate ventures. We look forward to working with him as we fulfill UBX’s vision of a future where banking services are embedded into everyday experiences that matter,” said UBX president and CEO John Januszczak.

Meanwhile, UnionBank president and CEO Edwin Bautista said, “The addition of world-class talents in our pool reinforces our strategy to future-proof the organization and our business as we prepare for many new opportunities that come with the changing times.”

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Banking

It’s all relative: Older generations feel helping out the family financially is more important since the Covid-19 outbreak

It’s all relative: Older generations feel helping out the family financially is more important since the Covid-19 outbreak 1

Before Covid, 23% of people prioritised helping younger generations out financially, that increased to a third as a result of the pandemic

A recent survey* conducted by Hodge has revealed that the Covid pandemic has led to more people wanting to help younger family members financially.

A third (31%)** of those questioned said that since the Covid outbreak giving a financial gift to children or grandchildren is more important to them, compared to 23% who said it was a priority before the pandemic.

The traditional “Bank of Mum and Dad” is still very much open for financial help, with parents being responsible for 72% of the gifts, but the study also revealed that financial gifts can come from all corners of the family – including children (14%) and siblings (14%).

The survey also found that a third of people have received a financial gift from family, with those aged between 25-34 as the most likely to receive

The most popular reason for gifting money to family is for special occasions such as a quarter of gifts were given for weddings and birthdays but 11% of people have received money to help with big purchases such as cars and houses. In addition, 19% of people have received help with day to day finances, with around 14% of those receiving a gift have done so to pay off debt.

Emma Graham, Business Development Director at Hodge, said of the research: “Our study showed that, as a nation, we all want to help our family out when it comes to money. And whilst we all think of the Bank of Mum and Dad or Gran and Grandad as a traditional source, we were surprised to see that 14% of brothers and sisters are also helping out.”

The findings come from a recent intergenerational study conducted by Hodge, who interviewed over 3000 people about their attitudes towards finances and their aspirations for the future. The full research findings can be found at https://hodgebank.co.uk/2020/05/19/money-its-all-relative/.

As part of the study, people were also asked about paying back the gift, with 40% of beneficiaries expecting to pay their parents back, but this dropped to 28% if the gift came from grandparents.

From the gift donor’s perspective, 26% expect the gift to be paid back, however just 15% of grandparents expected the money back.

Hodge has produced a set of guides on how families can navigate the tricky subject of giving financial gifts within a family, as well as the considerations and steps that be families should think about taking before a gift is given, such as is it a loan or a gift and thinking about contingencies if the family member’s circumstances change. The guides can be found here: https://hodgebank.co.uk/news/

Emma continued: “It’s clear that families feel strongly about offering financial support to each other if they are able and this has increased since the Covid pandemic. Before Covid, 23% of people prioritised helping their families out financially in the next five years. Since the Covid-19 outbreak that has increased to a third of people saying helping a family member financially had become more important.

“So, it is clear that the Covid-19 lockdown and subsequent predicted economic downturn, has led to more families looking to share wealth to help younger children or grandchildren during this difficult time. Many people may look to Later Life mortgages, where many products have reduced their rates and have flexible lending criteria, to help out a loved during these difficult times.”

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Banking

New report identifies the factors which will determine SMEs’ chances of a successful COVID recovery

New report identifies the factors which will determine SMEs’ chances of a successful COVID recovery 2

·         Analysis of the performance of over 1,000 UK small and medium-sized businesses by Allica Bank provides roadmap for SMEs 

·         Regular training, an openness to innovation, and a clear vision all contribute heavily to an SMEs’ chances of success  

·         Allica Bank has launched a programme of free workshops to expand on the findings and support business owners 

Business bank, Allica Bank has combined data and insight from over 1,000 UK SMEs with a multiple regression analysis to determine what factors most closely aligned with an SMEs’ chances of success and separated the highest-performing businesses from their peers. These ‘rules for success’ have been compiled from the research data to support British businesses as they look to chart a course to post-Covid recovery.  

The full report identifies six behaviours for small and medium businesses to follow, to maximise their chances of a successful COVID recovery. The six top-line rules emphasised by the data were: 

Rule 1: SMEs should regularly train staff 

Of the top-performing businesses analysed, 47% provided training for employees at least on a quarterly basis, compared to just 32% of other businesses. Regular employee training was linked closely to success by the model.  

Despite this, many small businesses have neglected training and nearly half (46%) of the small businesses analysed only provide training for employees about once a year or less often. This included 15% that never provide employer-funded training. This discrepancy could represent a significant opportunity for small businesses to unlock the potential of their employees and thrive in the post-Covid economy. 

Rule 2: SMEs need to focus on innovation and technology 

Looking again to the best performing businesses, 76% were found to either continually (39%) or often (37%) be considering new opportunities for technology in their business. This is compared to only 51% for businesses considered to be outside of the top ranks, out of which only 27% admitted to continually looking for new technology opportunities. 

Rule 3: Small business must have a formal, long-term vision  

Nearly two thirds (66%) of the most successful businesses in the survey had a formal, long-term vision, compared to just 50% of businesses outside the top 100. Looking to the businesses that scored the lowest on the SME Performance index, only 37% claimed to have a formal, long-term vision. 

Rule 4: SMEs should broaden their customer reach and find new markets 

Of the top-performing businesses, 65% of these have overseas customers compared to just 40% of the worst performing businesses. Among the best performing SMEs, over a third (34%) identified international expansion as one of the top three drivers for their success. 

Rule 5: SMEs need to develop reinvestment plans 

22% of the best performing SMEs reinvested some of their profits into the business in the past three years with an average 9% of profits being redeployed. Tellingly, this is nearly double what other businesses admit to reinvesting in their business (5%). 

Rule 6: SMEs should engage with local business organisations and networks  

Of the top 100 SMEs, 30% had obtained external credit to expand over the past three years (compared to 24% of other businesses). Meanwhile, only 16% of all other SMEs had engaged with local enterprise partnerships or growth hubs in the past three years (compared to 23% of the top 100 SMEs). 

Chris Weller, Chief Commercial Officer, Allica Bank, said: 

“All small businesses are different, as are all small business owners, but one trait they share is an innovative resilience. Whilst the coming months and years will undoubtedly continue to present extreme challenges, there is no doubt that small and medium sized businesses across the UK will rise to meet them head on.  

“To give them the best chance to succeed, though, they need to be equipped with the right tools. There is certainly no silver bullet or panacea for every small business, but as this study has found, there are a number of common factors found in the most successful businesses that allow small enterprises to thrive and that they can consider individually for their business.  

“This research has identified common ‘rules for success’ that speak to every aspect of running a business, not just the financials. Once we saw these results, we wanted to use them to help small businesses begin to re-build and prosper, by outlining common factors and then examining how best they can be practically applied to businesses in all sectors of the economy.  

“Small business owners and their employees have been hit hard by the crisis, but they have the drive and resourcefulness to breathe new life into the economy and bring energy to post-Covid Britain. Our commitment at Allica Bank is to give them the support they need to do so, every step of the way.”

The full report contains a wealth of additional data and insight into each of these topics. As part of its mission to empower small businesses, Allica Bank is making the findings freely available and running a series of free online workshops with relevant partner organisations for businesses to attend.

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