Top Technology Tips For Banks - Gulf Business
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Top Technology Tips For Banks

Top Technology Tips For Banks

Lenders need to put customers at the centre of what they do, writes Steve Bertamini, CEO of Consumer Banking at Standard Chartered.


Across Asia consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with technology, with growing numbers using smartphones and tablets to bank on the go.

Channels have multiplied, giving customers more choice than ever before.

However, for all the innovation in banking in recent years, the drop in loyalty rates across Asia suggests banks are failing to get closer to their customers, or provide them with sufficiently useful and convenient products and services.

Digitisation has the potential to transform banking from a utility into a great consumer experience, but we are evidently not quite there yet. The problem is, retail banks don’t think retail – they think bank.

On the surface, banking has changed drastically with online, mobile banking and social media joining the branch, ATM and telephone in a multi-channel mix. But a deeper-level strategic shift inside financial institutions has been slower in coming, and without this, customers are unlikely to experience a step-change in what it feels like to bank.

The choice of channels may have widened, but banking could still be easier, more intuitive, more helpful for people.

Think of the great retailers of this world. The way they anticipate and meet your needs intuitively from the minute you step over the threshold or click onto their home page. The way they lay out their stores and display their products to mimic, even prompt, your thinking. Banks could learn something from this, easing the experience of banking so customers can get on with their lives.

It should be clear by now that adopting technology is about more than churning out app after app, or having the most sophisticated portal, or getting into every digital space available. Technology has to be useful, intuitive and most importantly seamless.

To unleash the full potential of digitisation, banks have to do what great retailers do – structure their business around the customer, and away from disaggregated
product and channel transactions. They have to ask themselves not so much which products the customer will buy, but more importantly what the customer wants to do. This means spending much more time listening to customers and understanding their needs.

One disruptive game-changer is that today’s consumers are tech-savvy and mobile. They want banking that is fast, convenient and personalised; that rewards loyalty; that not only meets their financial needs but anticipates them.

Online and mobile banking channels have made transactions easier, but banks are yet to join the dots, so that customers are able to continue conversations across channels, however and whenever they want.

Banking has evolved into a multi-channel environment, but not yet a truly seamless one.

So what should banks do?

1. Banks should be very clear that while banking may be changing, people’s financial needs are not. People still have to deposit money, make payments and get paid, buy their own homes, take out loans, and grow and protect their wealth. Digitisation doesn’t alter these fundamental needs; it merely provides new and easier ways of meeting them.

2. Banks should not become blinded by digitisation to focus on online and mobile at the expense of other channels. Customers value access to their money across a whole range of platforms, including the traditional branch, ATMs and the telephone. I might be happy to check my balance on my mobile, but choose to do my investment research online. I may ask about a mortgage on the phone, but prefer to walk into a branch to complete the application with a relationship manager.

Understanding what drives behaviour and the way in which different channels need to complement one another, is crucial to turning banking into a relevant and seamless experience for the customer.

3. Banks need to become better at using their data to support customers proactively, anticipating needs, understanding behaviours, and making it easier and faster for customers to act. Customer interfaces should be tailored to the individual’s needs, and processes simplified, for example through the introduction of more online applications or ‘one-click’ functions for relevant products and services.

4. Banks should make it easier for customers to engage in extended conversations across all channels.

A customer may wish to use a branch to find out about a new type of fixed deposit, use a tablet to review the details over coffee and later confirm the transaction at an ATM. The conversation should be continuous and personalised and happen whenever and however the customer wants it. This means banks need to improve connectivity between channels and business functions – grasping the opportunity to get up close and personal with the customer and deliver a seamless, consistently great service.

5. Banks should make technology everybody’s business. Every member of staff needs to understand how digitisation affects the bank’s interface with the customer and its future business model. Banks are already technology organisations; now they need to develop a true innovation culture. At Standard Chartered, we know we have further to go, but we are working on it – making innovation a business priority, changing the way ideas flow through our organisation, collaborating with other companies to lead, not follow, in the transformation of banking.

If banks don’t, others will. With loyalty rates dropping, consumer power growing and new competitors knocking on the door – now is the time for banks to take customer
service to a new level, embracing the great opportunity of digitisation to add real value to people’s lives.


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