finance, CRM and mobile banking at #OBL13

I had the opportunity to attend the financial services breakout at Orange Business Live and it’s impressive how much that industry has been challenged during the previous years: reputation crisis, profitability crisis and now… IT crisis! Let’s dive into the last one…

two major trends in the financial sector

Jean-Pierre Lemaire, head of Orange Consulting, stated that there are two main trends happening right now in the financial sector: digital and local (“digilocal” as he calls it).

  • There’s a big move in the relationships between banks and their customers: roughly 20% of them switched from traditional banks to their digital counterparts.
  • The local side of the relationship (that is what the customer has with his or her relationship manager) used to drive day-to-day activities. This model is fading away: branches and the whole relationship needs to be revisited, as customers no longer use branches as their preferred contact point. 

There’s a great demand for “anytime, anywhere, any device” banking: people have traded bank branches (-9% per year) for mobile banking (+41%). This trend is driven by 36-45 year olds in the US where mobile banking went up to 78% in 2012! Obviously, this brings new questions around customer experience.

lots of challenges ahead

Just like in other sectors, innovation in the financial field (mainly?) comes from tablets and smartphones usage. For example, Lemaire stated that the age of bank advisors working from a PC is about to end. They will be mobile, using several devices and channels. With this come some prerequisites like instant messaging software, whatever device is used for that and whatever the resources behind them (it’s got to be scalable, for example).

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop here: say you want to develop an app to deal with your customers and answer these new digital constraints. So far, great idea! But you just can’t think like a 1990 product development: time to market has little to do with what it used to be and the product (i.e. the app) should be updated very frequently. It’s not possible to release something and expect it to last for a few years or even months. The pace of change is so quick, apps need to keep up.

but also some nice opportunities

So far I only mentioned the “dark side” of this digital evolution but rest assured that there’s a flip side: there are plenty of opportunities, too. For example, if we go back to app development, you can be sure that if it’s done correctly it can be a great way to drive customer relationships. How about using it to connect the bank relationship manager and his/her customers through IM? Or maybe it can offer FAQs as a start? Or it can send you dedicated information when your relationship manager is off: when does he return? Who’s the back-up? In case of an emergency, what are the right processes? And so on…

One last thing I really liked: geolocalization and security! Say a bank customer who lives in New York is now transferring money in Paris from his/her phone with the app we were talking about. Since the location is not the usual one, the app will stop the money transfer on its own and ask for additional authentication before finishing the transaction. Nice, right? J

a word about customer experience channels

So all this to say that banks are now moving, from a user experience point of view, to multiple channels (instead of branches only). Here a few of them:

  • social media
  • self-banking
  • Internet
  • phone banking

And why is that? Well, people work all day long so going to branches is not easy. Also, it’s compulsory to improve call response rates in call centers. And these are only a few reasons… The nice thing is that by multiplying the points of contact between customers and banks, there are positive impacts such as relationship managers spending less time in administrative works and more on their actual jobs: managing customers and selling more services.

moving forward

Since more customer contacts will be online, branches will either need to find another purpose on top of the current one. Do you have an idea of what it could be? Will they have to sell other products or even get involved with their local communities?


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