Banking dates back to 2000BC. Until late 20th century, banking was all about accepting deposits and lending money. Safety, Trust and Relationship are the three pillars in banking. Decades passed and the facade of banking too changed a lot.
Branch of a bank was the only channel till 3 decades ago through which customers used to transact with a bank. No customers were allowed to transact with other than the branch where s/he maintained his/her account. In branches, customers interact face to face and hence every employee of the branch used to remember familiar faces v/s new faces, leading to better relationships and improved trust. Though there were restrictions or trouble in transferring money between accounts within the same bank but different branches, even within same city, customers were happy with the personal and human touch they enjoyed in those days.
Scenario changed subsequently – liberalization started playing the lead role. Speed and convenience overpowered trust and safety. Relationship started getting hit with this change in game. Customers enjoyed banking from multiple branches of the same bank within a city. Soon the convenience of anywhere banking within the country took the lead role with the arrival of computerized banking and connected branches. But the arrival of ATMs changed the banking from face to face banking channel to alternate non-face to face channel. Banking received the label, ‘anywhere anytime’! The story does not end here. Arrival of internet and growth of technology took the banking far away from the 3 pillars leading to lack of security, trust and relationship.
The transition of banking from physical indirect channels to technology driven direct channels led to the troubles of increased incidences of breach of trust and raised concerns over safety in banking. Retail banking revolution with entry of new banks competing to reach up to the level of banking giants in short span saw customer relationships taking a back seat in the banking story. Phenomena like customer attrition, multibanking relationships took shape and the competitive environment led to cut throat competition to acquire customers.
Banks started looking for a new word to combat ‘attrition’ but had to go back to good old story of personalized banking with thrust on relationship. But most banks took a nose-dive in their efforts due to multiple reasons like changing faces in the branches with lack of proper banking product and process knowledge, multiple departments within the same organization communicating to single customer in silos leading to non-contextual communications, thereby lack of trust from customers.
Though most of the leading banks across the globe strive to bring in ‘customer experience’ as a differentiator, without an organization wide initiative, all efforts would go wasted. It is high time banks need to centralize customer information and move out of a silo mode of functioning. Customer too is grappling with a constantly changing economy and life style leading to a greater tendency to “shop”. Here comes the role of a bank, as a custodian and trusted partner, in constantly monitoring customer accounts, transactions, activities and walk with the customer in every way with actionable intelligence.
Multiple departments interact with a customer through various modes like email, snail mail, outbound call, direct channel, indirect channel, sms. When a customer reaches out the bank through direct or indirect channel, the expectation of the bank is to converse with the customer contextually, keeping in mind recent communications/interactions and also actions and commitments ahead. When organizations develop the capability to converse with the customer contextually in every interaction, no matter it is inbound or outbound, direct channel or indirect channel, customer experience can fly high and thereby deepening the intimacy. Deeper the relation, harder it to separate.
A customer who requested for a cheque book, returned undelivered to branch (Example reason: door locked) would be kept at the branch only for couple of months. Post this, as per process, the branch needs to destroy the inventory. During the tenancy of cheque book being kept at the branch, customer might have visited the branch or other direct channels multiple times. Does the branch respond to every customer or stick to the dictated process? In order to achieve this, agents need to browse through multiple systems while customer is in front, as per current mandate. Where as an intelligent system would only need to sense the customer presence, no matter the channel of interaction, in order to bring the actionable intelligence to the fore, every time in real time.
Technology has the answer to this dilemma. A bank can achieve this goal and transform the customer experience by being proactive – by alerting the teller at the counter (if visited branch) or alerting the customer (at direct channels) until the cheque book is handed over to the customer successfully.
In current banking, above information is scattered across various systems in silos. Cheque book request is originates from core or CRM. Designated back office branch picks up the request and courier the same to customer with the SLA and updates CRM with the status. Courier makes repeated attempts and returns the same to the base branch. Base branch updates CRM again with status as ‘returned to branch’. This information goes underneath until a report is generated every month end for destroying overdue inventories. During this course of time, customer would have requested for another set of cheque book and would have got processed too. Bank could have very well alerted the customer / teller who makes the request again while previous cheque book is in store, thereby saving cost and time for the bank and the customer. Only a thinking, learning, inferring engine can help banks to achieve such human like actions which sits over core, CRM, DW/BI etc monitoring events in real time and outputting actionable intelligence to the desired recipient in real time.
Above mentioned use case is one of hundreds of such proactive measures a bank can act upon without much investments in human resources. A human like thinking, learning, inferring engine can change the face of banking even amidst fast paced era and banks no more need to be nostalgic about bringing back relationship banking. Relationship Banking is there with personal touch!
Author,Peter Alen, Connect with us on twitter : @customerxps