Brett King

Posts Tagged ‘Engagement Banking’

The Best–Practice Engagement Bank

In Bank Innovation, Customer Experience, Engagement Banking, Future of Banking, Retail Banking, Social Networking, Strategy, Twitter on April 27, 2011 at 13:09

Recently when I posted on reforming customer journeys in the banking space I got some push-back for using Apple as an example of best practice. Surely there are banks I could have used as an example of best practice??? Well… not really. There’s no bank, and believe me I’m looking everyday, that has the whole multi-channel customer experience locked down across the board. So I thought if we could Frankenstein a bank together from banks that are there and are getting certain aspects of the engagement right, it might actually be possible to construct a sort of best-practice bank. Even then, the reality is that there are gaps in what is best-practice because by looking at other industries we find better examples of specific channels than in the banking space.

I realize this is arbitrary and there are probably some other great examples out there. If so, feel free to add those in the comments and if I agree with you I’ll make the appropriate amendments or additions and attribute them to your Twitter ID. Here we go…

Best Branch Experience

What identifies a best-in-class branch experience? Well a key here is not how sexy the branch looks but whether a branch redesign resulted in a net improvement in customer engagement and in resultant metrics – namely increase in acquisitions and in cross-sell or up-sell. Recently Citi relaunched their “Apple Store” concept branches in both Shanghai and New York, but there is no evidence that plastering tech around your square footage is an immediate guarantee of success. Creating retail spaces that are hi-tech meccas works for Apple because they sell tech, not banking products and services. So what is the goal of the banking space?

Currently there are two goals for branches, the first is to effectively serve transaction or task-focused customers as rapidly and cost-effectively as possible, and the second is to engage the customer around their needs in a friendly and revenue-conducive manner. In respect to the first, it’s my belief that transactions in-branch are fast becoming problematic for most retail banks and the trend is toward strong sales and service over costly transaction handling. This is part of the reason for SNS in Utrect, Netherlands deciding in 2009 to remove cash from their branches, and why others are focusing on strong service centres.

Metro Bank in the UK unquestionably has a very high quality ‘store’ experience (they don’t call their retail points of presence branches), as evidenced by their Net Promoter Score which is higher than any other retail bank in the UK.

We use Net Promoter and currently we have a Net Promoter score of 87% which I believe is among the highest anywhere in the UK — and eight out of 10 of our new customers come as recommendations from existing customers — 97% of our customers rate our service as being exceptional.
Anthony Thompson, Chairman and co-founder Metro Bank

Deutsche Bank with their Q110 branch in Berlin and Jyske Bank in Denmark, have taken the retail concept to its ultimate with advisors strolling the store and products bundled in packaging you take off the shelf. The point is that the best branches remove the barriers to engagement with customers, and are not transaction points, but conversation hubs. Some other notable designs are North Shore Credit Union in Vancouver and Che Banca in Italy.

The key here is that the retail space is opened up, barriers to conversations are removed, and a warm space is more inviting, more engaging. Transactions which are a cost to the bank, and are redundant for most customers, are relegated to automated cash and check deposit machines or to digital channels.

Best Online Banking Experience

This is a little tough. Firstly, I don’t believe that public websites and personal internet banking sites should be two separate entities, but the fact is that is the reality for most banks today is that their basic online banking experience hasn’t significantly changed in the last 10 years since the dot com. Awards given by EuroMoney, FT and others for the ‘Best Internet Bank’ or similar, are frankly laughable. Compared with the best online experience in other industries, banks are years behind.

Banks have to start thinking about the online channel as a dialog, as an engagement platform – not a transactional or functional platform. The most basic logic dictates that your secure Internet banking portal should be as much about engagement, service and sales, as it is about transactions. However, the level of complexity of selling and engagement behind the login as an industry is appalling.

So who’s the best? At the moment there’s only one bank I would put even close to living up to the promise of User Experience on this channel, which is Fidor in Germany, but even Fidor doesn’t have the sales experience and recommendation engine capability. Mint, Geezeo, Meniga and others are taking on the PFM battle, to transform the advisory space behind the login. Geezeo has recently launched a referral engine that will enable banks and credit unions to engage customers with smart engagement strategies within the secure internet banking space, but also extending this out to platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

In terms of banks…

It’s very quiet. There’s lots of talk about reinvigorating this space, but the only action on the horizon is our friends at BankSimple.

BankSimple doesn't look like a traditional Internet Bank, because they understand context.

If you want best practice in online banking, there is not one bank that has this sorted. There is best practice in functionality, there’s some best practice in transactional platforms, bill payment and the like – but there is no bank that provides a model that represents best practice of where banking should be online today from an engagement perspective. Not one.

Mobile and ATM on Page 2…

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SXSW: Where’s the Bank Innovation coming from?

In Bank Innovation, Customer Experience, Future of Banking, Strategy, Technology Innovation on March 13, 2011 at 02:12

South-by-Southwest’s Interactive sessions in Austin, TX are a major creative and customer-focused experience. The amount of networking that is taking place, the amount of active innovation and discussion on taking it to the next level is awesome and mind blowing. There’s only one thing…

If there was a game on at SXSW to find 20 bankers – It is highly doubtful that anyone could win that one.

There’s innovation discussions occurring around mobile, gaming, social media, user experience, geo location, but it appears SXSW only has 4 sessions that are connected with banking, which is indicative of the level of engagement. There are payments and retail engagement discussions, there are gaming and social discussions, there are startup and venture discussions, health and work discussions, but not so many on banking.

In our session today where we attempted to discuss innovation in the banking arena, we had spirited discussion around who are the innovators, but the reality is we didn’t get into really sexy innovations. We didn’t get into how mobile payments would change the world, the emergence of new digital currencies, virtual banking models that cross borders, distributed and pervasive banking content embedded into the retail experience, Infographics style PFMs transforming customer engagement, new banking models leveraging off the likes of P2P, social or community enablement, reinventing the credit score or improving financial inclusion through cheaper smartphone platforms. The reason we didn’t get into any of the really sexy stuff is that the problems of innovating the banking sector are much more fundamental today.

Some of the Twitter feedback based on the #BankInnovation hashtag from the session “Banks: Innovate or Die!” indicated frustration at not diving into more deeper matters of innovation.

One blog response from Oscar Llarena (aka @softwaremono) asked the question “Does Customer Service = Innovation?“. In many ways, this very question and the amount of time that was spent talking about customer behavior and the ability of banks to match customer expectations is very telling when it comes to what innovation is needed in the banking arena.

Organizational Inertia
One of the key issues and the reason expectations are low in the financial services space is that most banks don’t even classify these things as innovation. When you ask a die-hard banker about innovation you are more likely to hear about Collateralized Debt Obligations, Derivatives, Barbwire Hedge Contracts or Swaptions than technology integration or customer experience improvement. This is because fundamentally banking has really never had to rapidly innovate the basic model of engagement of customers; branches, cheques (checks), credit cards and other such mechanisms are innovations that occurred over the space of decades or centuries.

The other issue is that risk aversion, philosophical marriage to traditional distribution models and embedded metrics around products sold through branches, mean that organizationally the bank has to first start thinking about changing the way the performance of the business is measured, and structured, before serious innovation can take place. This will take time.

In the meantime the easiest way to create innovation (that goes against the grain of long-embedded business practices and performance structures) is to simply circumvent the traditional bank organization. It could be argued this is why UBank, Jibun Bank, First Direct and ING Direct have been so successful at doing banking better – because they didn’t have to solve the organizational problem first. However, when we see more fundamental business model innovations like P2P lending and new payments systems like M-PESA, these have circumvented banks all together.

Banks will eventually get their act into gear and either replicate alot of this stuff, or acquire it to get the innovations, but such an approach would be like Blockbuster putting up a website that looks like NetFlix. Unless you fundamentally redress the organizational reliance on a very traditional business model and structure, then it’s never quite going to work.

Why innovation has to start with the customer…
In retail banking or financial services, one of the reasons we get so hung up on just some simple elements around customer service, the user interface between the bank and the customer, transparency and the way a bank assesses the risk of an individual consumer is simply that these are the areas that are now so glaringly obvious that they need a more rapid solution. Why? Because they are the very areas where the gap between customer behavior and expectations is growing rapidly with the delivery capability of the average retail bank. Before you can really start with breakout innovation you need to be able to meet customer needs.

Can you do that if you are trying to convince customers to buy irrelevant products because they are higher margin, or if you are trying to force customers into a branch because you’ve got a substantial investment in real estate? No.

So is customer service innovative? Transforming the customer experience and engaging customers in new ways, is a massive leap forward in banking – it may not be sexy innovation, but it is transformational for a sector who thinks they make profits despite their customers.

Why SXSW still matters for banks
In this environment, there are massive opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators to create bridges between the customer and the institution. This will be through start-ups, new apps or UIs, new user experience models, gaming, and all the sexy stuff that SXSW at large is discussing. But it likely won’t be through traditional banks (sorry @annaobrien). Why?

Probably because you will never see a traditional banker at SXSW because they don’t get the imperative for customer innovation. They send along the geeks, who they expect to build the apps and to maintain the social media presence, but those resources won’t be sitting in the boardrooms talking about new organizational structures, different performance metrics and how to transform the business wholesale.

In the end, the success of start-ups and innovators like SmartyPig, LendingClub, BankSimple and MovenBank will be initiatives that banks feel compelled to follow because customers feel affinity with these new brands. But don’t expect them to rush into it…

In the end customers will win and I guess that is all that matters.

Retail Banking Innovation Infographic

Is product innovation enough?

iPad 2 pushes customer expectations further

In Customer Experience, Engagement Banking, Retail Banking on March 2, 2011 at 15:19

The Apple iPad 2 was launched by the so-called “rockstar CEO” Steve Jobs today in San Francisco to a broad reception of live blogging, tweeting and “cloud” participation online. It will give shareholders a brief moment of comfort to see that Steve is still fit and well despite his medical leave.

While there has been a lot of online coverage of events and conferences in recent time, the live blogging and tweeting around the iPad 2 launch shows that we really are living in a real-time ‘news’ consumption age. The concept that you can have a press-release to ‘spin’ an announcement anymore is just ridiculous. You are dealing with real-time assessment of your brand, your products and capability now. It is engagement 2.0. Anyway…back to the iPad 2.

The new iPad 2 will retail at the same base price ($499) as the old iPad, and will retain the 10-hour battery life. But the new iPad is 1/3rd thinner, 10% lighter and is more than twice as fast as the old iPad. The video processor, often criticized when it came to gaming and video playback, has been upgrade to 9x the speed of the old video chip.

The iPad 2 also comes with two cameras, a front and rear-facing camera enabling the FaceTime live video chat capability. The iPad 2 has simple HDMI integration also so you can play your iTunes video downloads straight to your HD TV, infact, the Airplay feature even allows you to stream video and pictures to your TV and other devices. You can sync wirelessly too with the new iPad 2.

Apple has come up with an innovative ‘case’ they call a smart cover. The case is actually a screen protector with magnets that integrates with the iPad2. When you remove the screen cover, the iPad2 automatically senses it and powers up automagically.

Apple’s recent success

Apple has sold more than 15m iPads since their launch last April, and they’ve just sold their 100 millionth iPhone globally. Impressive! But the really interesting stat is that they’ve remmitted more than $2 Billion to App Developers globally (350,000 Apps plus), and have more than 200 million account holders who’ve supplied their credit card details to the iTunes store. With 200m customers, they would be a major competitor to any FI if they decided to build banking/payments into the iTunes store…

Worth thinking about!

What the iPad 2 means for banks

The iPad 2 continues to shift expectations for consumers. Consumers now have very high interaction and user experience expectations, but most banks and financial institutions are still stuck in the 80s and 90s when it comes to ‘functionally’ led solutions for customers. User Interface design needs to be a core competency of any financial services institution these days, or you need to have a great supporting team in place.

Apple showed off Apps like iMovie ($4.99), GarageBand ($4.99) and the FaceTime (free) App as examples of how interaction is changing as a result of the iPad. But more than that, Apple showed how the iPad is changing interactions in schools, at the workplace, for doctors treating patients, for pilots doing flight planning and many other examples. The iPad user interface along with multi-touch is reinventing these types of journeys through smart redesign of the interaction.

To expect that customers will be forgiving in the face of poor operating procedures, poor interaction design and outdated screen design and flow is a huge mistake. Using regulation or internal bank policy as an excuse, just won’t cut it anymore. Customers will be measuring the effectiveness of their service providers based on these types of ‘interaction’ metrics now, not on how many branches you have or what your interest rates are.

Start thinking about redesign your customer journeys and interactions. This is a core capability for any customer facing business these days.

Steve Jobs back on stage at the iPad 2 launch today in SFO

The iPad 2 launches in the US on March the 11th, and in the UK, Australia, Canada, and a bunch of other countries on the 25th of March. You can check it out on the Apple.com site right now!

Mobile Crunch did a great live coverage on their blog of the iPad2 launch event if you’d lke more details.

Banks still don’t get mobile, but neither do researchers…

In Customer Experience, Engagement Banking, Mobile Banking, Retail Banking, Social Networking on January 4, 2011 at 01:04

I read with interest a post pointed out to me by @JenRBoyd posted on Mobile Commerce Daily highlighting a recent Celent report comparing US and EU investment in multi-channel. The problem here is that the conclusions of the report are correct, but even the report itself suffers from an old-school view of the banking arena, that is, we are still asking the wrong questions…

Celent/Oliver Wyman - Channel Priorities EU vs US

The Generational Gap in Management
If you’ve read my posts previously, or my book BANK 2.0, you’ll know that I’m particularly critical of the branch-centric organization structures that dominate retail banking still today. The shift to ‘multi-channel’ has been a long and hard road, and is far from over at this stage.

The problem intellectually is that it is fundamentally, virtually impossible to get a banker of 30-40 years experience to think in truly innovative ways about reinventing the way we engage customers in banking. We see this embedded in banking from terminology, to metrics, to budgets, to organization structure, to philosophy. Many banks still call their multi-channel practice “Alternative Channels” – indicative of the fact that most bankers still view multi-channel as an alternative to the branch, i.e. the ‘real’ bank. The problem with that strategy is customers just don’t think like that.

If you had a Y-Gen or Millennial on the board of the bank today, his or her first three priorities in channel investments would be in the arena of mobile payments, social media and mobile banking. In Celent’s report (link above) indicative of the generational gap, even prevalent in the research, is that we aren’t even asking the right questions yet. Celent’s report doesn’t even include the areas of mobile payments and social media engagement as ‘channel priorities’.

Re-imagining the organization
So in an ideal bank of today, what would the channel priorities and organization chart look like?

Here’s a few key elements:

1. Complete Channel Agnostic Approach
The first thing that needs to happen is losing the bias in the organizational structure toward branch, from a budget perspective, from a leadership perspective, and from a philosophical view. It would help to create a Head of Channels that manages branch, internet, mobile, self-service (ATM, etc), and other channels together. There should be an acceptance that all channels are created equal in respect to their ability to engage customers from a revenue and service perspective.

2. Seed strategy teams with Y-Gen/Millennials
You can’t change the way that old banker’s think. Remember the joke…

Old Banker’s never die – they just lose interest.

Seriously, we need aggressive new thinking, and we aren’t going to get that from those who’ve been brought up on a staple diet of traditional approaches to banking. We need to create energy for new initiatives. Most commonly when I propose this to banker’s they say “But, we need people with banking experience!” I cringe at that…you can’t inject new blood and thinking into the system if you insist on only using those who are already preconditioned to the world of banking.

If you must, use the kids and grandkids of the board members themselves so you can keep it in the family. But get some new thinking into the organization ASAP.

3. Customer Dynamics and Engagement Banking
We need to start thinking about re-inventing the role of banking in the lives of our customers. This is not just building new Apps, new websites, or sticking up a page on Facebook – this is thinking about the contextual use of banking, and how to reduce friction for our customers.

Realistically if we think about the way banking works today, usually it is a ‘wait for the customer to come to you’ scenario. We assume that when a customer needs a loan, a new bank account, or to invest some money, that he’ll come to the bank. If we understand the context of those products or services, we’d see that if we could take those elements to the customer, and better engage them, that banking would truly become a service, instead of just a function. The organization chart of the future will have a customer engagement team that dominates the marketing and product functions of the bank, both from a retail and wholesale banking perspective. This is because we are going to have to reinvent the way we engage customers with our products or services, taking banking to the customer.

Conclusions
We have to start asking the right questions. Those questions start with how is the behavior of our customers changing, how can we better engage them, and how and when does that engagement occur? Patently, the use of mobile, social media, contactless payment technology built into the handset, geo-location capability, targeted 1-to-1 marketing offer management (beyond groupon), and other such capabilities should be an absolute priority for bankers today – but we aren’t even talking about that stuff properly yet…

The biggest risk: I won’t give you my money…

In Customer Experience, Groundswell, Social Networking, Strategy on November 18, 2010 at 00:23

During the global financial crisis, governments spent billions to bail out banks in an effort to keep liquidity in the banking sector, largely so that lending could continue at a time when businesses needed as much help as they could get. However, in a financial crisis when the economy is in recession, it is counter-intuitive for a bank to lend money to customers who might get into further trouble. So the bail out didn’t work in stimulating the economy the way it was intended. The autopilot ‘internal’ risk function kicked in and prevented it from doing so.

Some could argue that the ‘risk’ function within banking, while acting to protect institutions, may have actually negatively impacted the speed of recovery. While we have all sorts of classifications around risk within the business environment today (operational, legal, socio-political, financial and market) the greatest risk we potentially face in the banking sector is actually none of these. Our risk “compass” needs to be re-tuned in the light of customer behavioral shift.

Industry Reputational Risk

Bankers often talk about the ‘trust’ consumers have in banking as a defining characteristic of why customers give us their money instead of simply keeping it under a mattress. It’s also why many bankers have difficulty understanding why customers of today seem perfectly happy to give money to the likes of PayPal, M-PESA, Lending Club or Zopa. The fact is trust in banking is stubbornly stuck in the doldrums, largely as a result of the whole sub-prime, CDO debacle.

So will trust return? This is a big theme this year. We are essentially dealing with reputational risk. Not for an individual brand or institution, but the collective reputation of the industry as a whole.

That’s the regulator’s job…

To assume we can fix this problem is to ascertain that we can have a coordinated approach to restoring consumer confidence as an industry. There are a few issues with this, namely that we generally leave such broader issues to the regulators. After all, what can one bank do about this on it’s own?

The problem with this approach is that regulators can only regulate, they can’t make us do good things for our customers. Despite strong regulation, 11 banks (Including the Big 4) are facing class action in Australia by customers over fees. Despite toughening regulation in the United States, the “Move Your Money” campaign continues to live on to this day. It is also why peer-to-peer lending networks are flourishing, why Mint and Blippy are garnering the trust of millions, and why PayPal is the world’s leading online payment network. Customers are moving on, plainly because the industry is no longer differentiated by a reputation built on trust.

Let’s face it – regulation is not going to restore trust. The only two things that will fix this gap is building transparency and delivering great service at the coal face.

Restoring trust requires us to be un-bank-like…

I’ve heard many banks talk about service and being more transparent, but the reality is this is a tough target. When we look at service as a sector we see costs and those costs have to be justified – the question always will be; will an increase in service bring more revenue or simply translate to costs? When we look at transparency, this is counter-intuitive for banks. We have spent our entire existence finding ways to hide margin, fees, and to justify those elements as part of the banking ‘system’ in order to return EPS.

The problem is if you screw up with customers today when they’re standing in the branch in a lengthy queue during their lunch break, they are just as likely to start Tweeting or shouting out to friends on Facebook about how “hopeless bank ABC is in the city branch today, this queue is massive!”

How do banks respond to such communications?

  1. Most ignore these Tweets as inconsequential – does that restore trust?
  2. Some respond positively to the tweet, explaining how sorry they are and what they are doing to resolve it…
  3. Unfortunately, some Respond negatively; I’m sorry the customer feels this way, but this is not what we are like – really, some people are just never happy!

The only of these responses that will work positively to rebuild trust in the sector is to suck it up, respond positively, and figure how to create a better service culture or resolve the process problems that created them. You can’t do that if you aren’t listening.

Excellence is trustworthy

When you build a great service environment, then there is no need to worry about being transparent. Customers these days will pay a premium for great service. If service is not your thing, then be transparent about that, but explain you don’t charge as much as those other banks and that is the benefit of your bank. If, however, you want to keep fully loaded fee structures in place, then you’ll have to be transparent about the cost of delivering great service. If you aren’t delivering great service, and you are still leveraging fees like it was the 90s, you’ll find out that this strategy doesn’t work – just ask the big 4 banks in Australia. NAB, thus far, is the only bank to positively respond to this pressure by taking a new, transparent stance on fees.

There are some simple steps to take that will bring rapid improvements:

  1. Simplify bank language through a plain-language initiative – refer Centre for Plain Language and Whitney Quesenbery
  2. Make it easy to find the best phone numbers to speak to the right area of the bank on your website, circumvent IVR menu trees where possible. Citi in the US does this pretty well.
  3. Mystery shop, not competitors, but the most common processes in your multi-channel environment and see where these need to be drastically simplified, and use Observational Field Studies to see how customers work in real-world settings.
  4. Put a social media listening post in place and respond positively and openly at every opportunity – check out Gatorade’s Mission Control
  5. Review the biggest complaints you get in the call centre, and try to fix those customer journeys proactively. We call these Torch Points…

Building trust starts with creating great customer journeys that improve service levels and demonstrate a willingness to be transparent. We can’t rebuild trust without these elements. The biggest risk today, is simply that I don’t trust you enough to give you my money.