Technological disruption within the financial services industry has been a hot topic of conversation for awhile now. The stakes are large and financial firms are aggressive in their response to the changing market.
Naturally, this has played a central role at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce (#DF16) conference for the last few years, and its recent 2016 event was no different. But after attending Dreamforce 16, there were a few noticeable differences. The conversation has now focused on:
- How the digital transformation and innovation that have been a vision for so long is now becoming a reality; and
- How the overwhelming consensus now is that financial relationship managers are not going away and, in fact, are becoming more critical to deepening trust and customer relationships.
How are firms approaching digital transformation?
The financial services industry is all about building trust with the customer while adding value. Therefore, every customer interaction – whether no touch, low touch or high touch – needs to contribute toward building that trust. The strategy being deployed by financial services firms to achieve this is threefold:
- On demand
The goal? To create a frictionless customer experience that is transparent and puts the customer in control. In other words, enabling that interaction to be anytime, anywhere, from any device.
To achieve this, heavy investments are being made in the back office – on vertically focused customer relationship management (CRM) operating systems and applications focused on process automation, integration of various data silos, and the creation of efficient workflows that provide a 360-degree view of the customer. All of this is now reality.
At this point you must be thinking, I know this already, so what? We’ll get to that …
What does this mean for the different stakeholders?
For customers, this means always being able to: access their bank or credit card accounts online; see at what stage their insurance claim is through every step of the process; choose what possessions they want insure and for how long; receive promotions for products and services that are actually relevant to them; chat with a customer service representative on demand. The list goes on and on.
For firms, it means no longer just focusing your go-to-market (GTM) approach by “skimming from the top” and serving segments of the market that were previously underserved or could not be served at all. It means moving past the transactional and toward the relationship, and shifting focus to delivering value, not selling products and services. In short, it means growth.
For relationship managers, this means no longer having to: spend hours on mundane administrative activities; toggle among 10 different systems to find the information you need; enter the same customer information again and again; go through hurdles just to figure out who else in your organization is touching the customer. Instead, it means having an entire view of the customer and efficiently collaborating with your peers with better, more intelligent data around how to best serve the customer. All of this innovation translates to added capacity to reach that holy grail: opportunity to spend more time with customers. But it stops there.
What is the next phase?
The investments made in the back office have had an enormous front office impact for the no-touch/low-touch customers; however they have fallen short for the high touch. The trust established during the no/low-touch phase of the customer relationship needs to be pursued and deepened by relationship managers. Investments to date have better positioned relationship managers to be high touch, but they do not actually cross the chasm to enable customer engagement.
The next phase of investment needs to focus on the high-touch front office by enabling relationship managers to engage customers at scale. This means automating customer interactions in a personalized way by helping relationship managers know what to say, when to say it, and to whom. In order to achieve this, relationship managers need access to all of the digital communication channels that their customers use in their daily lives, such as social media, websites, email, and SMS. And it needs to check that pesky compliance box.
Conclusion: the winners
First, the customers. Full stop. It’s a great time to be a customer!
From an industry perspective, the winners in this digitally transformed world will be those firms that invest in both back office and front office, low touch and high touch. This means continuing the investments made in the back office that automate the operational side of the relationship managers’ day-to-day. However, it also means investing in the front office for the high-touch customer segment, including tools that allow relationship managers to digitally engage their customers at scale. Because at the end of the day, getting to know your customer can’t just be on a data level; it needs to be on a human level, too.
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