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Customers rule in bank of the future

Bruce Dahlgren,SVP, Enterprise Services and Managing Director, HP APJ; and Daniel Biondi, HP Fellow & Chief Technologist, Financial Services, Enterprise Services, HP South Pacific | April 29, 2015
Financial institutions that fail to make customer experience a strategic goal and a reality will leach business to institutions that are more effective in their customer engagements.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Among today's digitally masterful consumers, that old adage 'customer is king' has never had more relevance. Tech-savvy, highly connected customers are spoilt for choice. Their expectations are high and they want superior service and products. They won't hesitate to move on if their individual needs aren't being met.

For the financial services sector, this dynamic, customer-centric landscape is making an already competitive environment even more challenging. Finding new customers and hanging onto existing ones is harder than ever before. Even more worrying for banks is the entry of disruptive new competitors, with the prospects of the millennial generation choosing a bank-free existence to source new financial services.

Millennials are looking for sophisticated and streamlined banking experiences that seamlessly connect with their mobile lifestyle. Anything too complex will be rejected -- and at the click of a button they can let the world know they are unhappy.

Financial institutions must respond by harnessing the power of this new digital age and deliver a high quality customer experience. The future is likely to be bleak for those too slow to change.

More than lip service
According to Forrester Research[*], nearly all companies claim to be customer-focused -- but few act systematically on this impulse. A global survey by Forrester across all industries found that seven out of 10 business leaders consider customer experience a critical or high priority. However, less than one-third of customer experience professionals believe their firms consistently take this into account when making business decisions.

Financial institutions cannot afford to be in this category. They are operating in a hyper-competitive industry in which diverse organizations are branching out to compete with them head on. These nimble competitors are demonstrating that a traditional physical banking presence doesn't necessarily equal success.

Financial institutions must engage with their customers and build an emotional connection and loyalty -- or risk losing them to those who will. This means becoming obsessively 'customer focused'.

Placing a customer-centric approach at the core of an IT strategy
A barrier to success in today's customer-centric digital age can be legacy IT systems and disconnect between the IT department and those leading the customer experience. This can lead to significant roadblocks.

There has to be a merging of minds across the C-suite with IT professionals learning to speak the language of those in charge of customer experience.

Rather than recruiting staff simply to maintain IT systems, CIOs need to be considering skills beyond IT expertise, and thinking about hiring professionals based on their creativity and ability to contribute in an agile environment.


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