Contributor: Dean Young
I have been travelling recently, conducting a series of meetings and interviews with customers and prospects from around the globe and there seemed to be a common theme – everyone is excited and investing in mobile channels. But is this at the expense of our traditional face-to-face channels?
One interesting piece of feedback I heard during my travels was related to the empowerment of the bank’s customers from an information point of view. The gist of the comment was that with all the attention and focus that the bank had been giving to mobile banking channels (the Internet and mobile), it was these systems and not the internal systems used by banking staff that were providing richer, more detailed customer information to the bank. The perception felt, was that the bank was investing more in customer education via the Web than on staff education via internal training. Hence staff felt unprepared to face customers, and certainly not confident enough to start to up-sell or cross sell to those customers.
I think this comment touches on the two main pillars of good customer management; customer experience and customer relationships.
Firstly, the customer experience. No matter what individual elements you believe are important, basically the customer experience comes down to being judged on the outcome of an interaction between the bank and the customer. At some stage during that customer interaction, there is a strong chance a staff member is going to get involved. Ensuring staff are prepared and equipped with the information and strategies to be successful is an important ingredient in guaranteeing a good customer experience. This can’t be ignored.
That brings us to the second pillar: customer relationships. Today’s modern internet banking solution tends to provide the customer with a complete view of all their products and services with a bank. It provides the tools to initiate any action that the customer may want to take, and also allows them to query any other product or service that they may require. All in all a great service, right?
The concern voiced by the bank staff member in my example above, was that these self-service tools provide excellent information across a range of services. Better in fact than the systems the bank’s own staff rely on when interacting with a customer in a branch or through a call center, and this isn’t good. Why? Because there is a great deal of additional information that a bank can and should provide to its staff that will enhance the customer relationship. Information that isn’t appropriate to include on a self-service channel such as internet banking. This information includes customer profitability, risk, up-sell suggestions, arrears information, interaction history, complaint history and marketing analysis, among others.
So the question that we as bankers should be asking ourselves is not are we investing enough in new mobile channels, but is this investment balanced against our investment in face-to-face channels? I believe, that it will be those banks who invest wisely in both forms of channel that will ultimately provide the most effective interaction between their customers, and therefore create the best customer experience.