As today’s retail financial services institutions continually look for the best, most efficient ways to operate, it’s clear that simple changes to business processes can be made to better meet the needs of customers while increasing efficiency.
To begin, institutions must address non-efficient business and customer-facing processes and take a look at the existing market from the customer’s point of view. The next step is to determine who within the organization will champion the necessary changes to the business model. Making these changes is more than deciding on a process improvement. Leaders must support the day-to-day change and encourage it.
It’s been estimated that by 2017, there will be three billion networked devices in North America, up from two billion in 2012. During that time, mobile network traffic will increase 17 fold. With the integration of so many mobile devices into our society and a technology savvy group of customers making purchasing decisions, a number of challenges have arisen. We’re now seeing customers with diverse preferences on how they choose to bank or purchase insurance as well as how they interact with bankers and insurance agents.
Financial institutions know it’s less expensive to retain and cross sell than it is to onboard a new customer so it’s crucial that they begin to re-evaluate how they offer products and services. Those that wait will find that their customers have moved on without them, impacting the bottom-line.
Customer expectations are also changing. Today’s customers expect the service they receive to be centered on what they need and they expect the best at all times. Due to these increased expectations, methods of interaction, channel choices and how transactions are completed can be responsible for winning or losing a customer’s business. For example, some institutions now have a person who is head of customer experience or someone who is head of channels ensuring that customers receive a great experience no matter how they choose to conduct their business.
We also see a trend toward the marketing organization being more accountable for the decisions that are made in terms of channel distribution strategies. Chief marketing officers and their organizations are increasingly having a greater influence on the omnichannel experience of our retail banking customers, even controlling a large portion of the budget.
Consider the financial institution that invests in a state of the art, web-based customer service system. Working with their vendors, they are assured that the system can be installed and deployed in less than six months. Two months into the project, incremental milestones are being missed, there is confusion amongst the team and people start pointing fingers. Two more months go by, and it’s clear that the system won’t be ready, not due to technology problems, but rather because of changes that need to be made to accommodate the needs of legal and compliance as well as further training of existing employees to handle the conversion.
Contrast that experience with the financial institution that invests in the same system, but instead begins with the executive team presiding over a large auditorium packed with everyone who is or will be involved once the system goes live. The managers explain the reason for the change and empower everyone to escalate issues to them. The project status is regularly communicated to everyone. Finally, four months later, the system is ready, people are trained and they go live. The institution sees improvement in key metrics and both customers and employees are impressed with the improvements shortly after converting to the new system.
Financial institutions are now enabling a number of technology solutions needed to streamline new processes and effectively reach and attract a diverse set of consumer needs. Video-enabled solutions allow employees to collaborate with customers using video on mobile devices and via the web. The same technology can be used to more effectively train employees while at the same time reduce costs and increase efficiencies as you release new products to the field.
Voice and video solutions can also provide access to customer service reps in a contact center or to someone at a different branch with a specific knowledge or expertise. For example, a financial institution employee can address customer issues and answer questions whether the customer is at an office location or using a mobile device. This provides a unique, flexible experience for customers everywhere.
However, for interactions over voice and video solutions, how the mortgage process is traditionally handled changes somewhat along with decisions as to where and how the applications are going to processed. The question becomes, how will the customer provide their documents at their side of the transaction? Will it be by scanner, e-mail or handing them to a representative in the branch? Another process to consider is how signatures will be captured. Will the risk and compliance department require wet ink or will a digital signature suffice?
Mr. Caddoo is vertical solutions architect for Cisco Americas Business Transformation Group, a unit of San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.