By Gavin Mee, Head of Salesforce, UK
A decade ago, if someone told you that when they emptied their fridge, the fridge automatically sent a shopping list to the supermarket, would you believe them? Over the last few years, technology innovations have allowed businesses and brands to change how we shop and interact with them.
This technology allows them to deliver seamless, multi-channel customer experiences – regardless of size or industry. And this should be no different in the retail banking sector. As consumers, we’ve got used to the star treatment – in fact, research into customer experience shows that 77% of UK consumers agree they now expect companies to provide a consistent experience. Consumers want to interact with brands via the most convenient channel, at the most convenient time for them – whether that’s on mobile, social media, website, or in-person.
It’s this customer-centric approach which is helping the best businesses edge ahead of competitors.
Innovation and Trust
But in reality, many traditional retail banks aren’t edging ahead but instead playing catch-up. According to Salesforce’s 2017 Connected Banking Customer Report, only 1 in 10 UK customers strongly agree that the banking industry is innovating at the same pace as other industries, such as retail, healthcare and technology. As worryingly, less than a third of all Brits strongly agreed they trust their banks with their financial information. Only 15% of customers strongly agreed that banks have their best interests at heart.
This consumer sentiment is fuelling the growth of agile, mobile-first startups which are disrupting the traditional banking model. These are challenger banks offering digitised services to deliver a personalised, secure and convenient customer experience. Much of their success rests on customer centricity; they understand how customers want to interact with them and what they want from a bank.
Online or offline?
The winning formula isn’t just a blanket technology approach. In fact, different technologies suit different services. While banking websites are now the most popular way to carry out routine transactions among traditional players, other digital channels are lagging behind. Just 1% of customers who have a current or savings account will communicate with their banks via IM or chat for tasks like seeking investment advice. When customers require service that extends beyond making simple transactions, they are more comfortable with in-person interactions. For example, twenty-four per cent go in-branch to seek investment advice from an advisor, 23% do so for advice on accounts or service needs. Once again, this suggests that trust and personal service are paramount for customers.
Joining the dots
It strikes me that today, banks must blend the physical, in-branch experience with online and mobile to provide a seamless, secure and personal journey to their customers. It’s not enough in this connected era to offer a static customer engagement model. Banks are challenged with engaging different audience segments, with different needs and difference preferences when it comes to interaction. In order to keep customers happy and boost trust levels, it’s time to forget the typical ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
Technology can play a pivotal role in helping banks achieve a more customer-centric approach. Innovative cloud-based solutions are enabling banks to join the dots between social, mobile, web, telephone and in-person services. Each of these touch points provide banks with key customer data. By breaking down the siloes which have traditionally existed, they are able to gain a more holistic overview of each individual customer experience – their last interaction, what they required and the outcome. It means that banks can intelligently combine all of this data and achieve a single view of each customer, in real time. The result? A far more personalised service.
I truly believe that this is a golden opportunity for traditional UK banks; since we know that the in-branch experience remains important to customers, those banks that successfully blend online and offline services will likely still be successful tomorrow. Additionally, a joined up approach will help level the playing field with emerging disruptors.
I also believe that this approach is key in future-proofing the banking model and securing loyalty from younger customers. While the younger audience doesn’t have a great deal of spending power today, it’s worth considering their future potential. This typically digital-native group is truly shaping how all industries deliver services. Those banks that understand this now, and adopt an agile approach to service delivery which boosts trust, could benefit from decades of loyalty.