The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

The Bank of the Future | some thoughts on the world of cross-channel sales and marketing

 Just prior to the recent NetFinance conference I was lucky enough to be asked by Dan at eStara to answer a few questions, which were posted on their blog.  Its been a couple of weeks now, and thought I would place them here too. 

Meantime please check out eStara and their blog.  They do a good job at covering many aspects of multichannel development, and not getting caught up in promoting their own products, which incidentally are good, as I can attest from personal experience. 

Anyhow here is the email interview we did, and I relate this to my earlier post on Bank of the Future.

This week, hundreds of financial services executives from all over the world will gather in Phoenix for the 6th Annual Net.Finance Conference to discuss issues pertaining to the marketing and sale of financial products and services. One of the speakers at this year’s event will be Colin Henderson of The Bank Watch blog. Colin, who was formerly director of channel optimization at Bank of Montreal, will be presenting at this year’s conference on Web 2.0, and how banks can incorporate new media and technology to enhance their customer interactions. Recently, we asked Colin a few questions about what banks will be like in the future:

eStara: In your blog, The Bank Watch, you state that the channel efforts of banks ought to be focused on Internet, and then levered across other channels. Explain why you feel this way, and how banks are handling this transition to the Web lifestyle?

CH: This is way to start thinking about things differently, to catch up with customers, yet still maintain old loyalties. Listen, I know that Banking is all about risk aversion. Its about keeping multiple stakeholders happy, both inside and outside the Bank. Generational change is not new, but the rapid rise of internet, means this generational shift that we are going through is new. Telephones took 38 years to reach 10 million mass market customers, cable TV 25 years … www took less than 5. When we overlay that pace of change with GenX/Y/M folks you have an instantly trained generation. That’s a first. Their expectations are not like previous generations (including me). So we have to learn from them, listen to them and be ready for them. By 2011, the net generation will comprise 50% of the working population – that’s only 2 years away in planning/implementation, and execution time.

So, back to the question … by building for internet now, and adapting as required for others, we are aligning the organization for customer expectations.

eStara: How do you feel banks are integrating the online customer experience with their call centers and branches?

CH: With Call centres, I think pretty well. Most are still wrestling with organisation, do you put email people with telephone people, with click to talk people etc, but that’s a healthy discussion. Branches are different .. they are generally still in 1985. Part of this is regulation, and concerns for privacy and confidentiality. The irony is that customers and branch staff are corresponding about banking using email, whether its allowed by Bank rules or not.

eStara: From a customer service and support perspective, how do you think the banks of the future will meet the needs of consumers?

CH: I will take that as ‘should’ meet the needs, because frankly some will and some won’t and will suffer accordingly. Broadly, banks’ will do a better job at being there all the time, as required for their customers. I recall once, an old visionary Banker talking about the ideal future Bank. He said its like a genie in a bottle, your own personal genie. Banking is boring and being in the bottle most of the time is just fine. But at that moment, in a shop, purchasing online, after a phone call – whatever the catalyst, if you need your Bank, you need them right now. It goes from not even on your mind, to instant need. So the good banks will be there, via wireless, online, phone to a certain extent, to provide an answer. Some say this is too expensive, but to me that’s an execution issue.

eStara: You’ve worked in banking in the U.K., Canada and the U.S. Are there any unique challenges in each country? What are some of the shared challenges?

CH: North America is very conservative, conventional. I attended a conference in Geneva in February, and I have to say the interest level in new ways of doing things, including particularly financial services is very high. Its a space I am watching closely.

As a final note, I wanted to mention Web 2.0 and blogs, and before everyone’s eyes glaze over – there are new opportunities there now for Banks to experiment, at low cost, with alternative methods of engaging customers, and consumers. The immediate reaction is often, “It’s too high risk and what about our brand image?”

But that train has left the station … people are already talking about your Bank online. If you do a Google blog search on your Bank, its remarkable … I did one just as I was typing this, and took something at random, on page 10 of the search. It was ‘Dave’ writing about the families of deceased soldiers in Afghanistan losing life insurance, because a war clause invalidated mortgage insurance:

Here is a snippet (Feb 2007):

…she was initially told she would likely not be able to collect on her mortgage insurance because of a war exclusion clause.

She pursued the issue with officials at the Bank XYZ, who issued the policy near her home at New Brunswick’s Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, and was told they’d look into it.

While awaiting an answer, Customer, who has two children under the age of 15, was forced to continue paying her mortgage. Four months later, she says the bank revealed it had no such exclusion clause and would begin payments.

My point is not the specifics here, horrific as they are. The point is that these discussions are occurring online. There were three comments on that blog post, but none from the Bank in question … what a fantastic opportunity, to right a wrong … missed, gone forever. That customer could have been the most loyal customer advocate for that Bank…now how many people will she tell the opposite? Meantime the customer communications group believe that the televised story earlier that week, is over, and phew!, we managed our way through that will minimal press

Source: Thought Leader Q&A: Colin Henderson, The Bank Watch, on The Bank of the Future – Multichannel Musings – Insight into the world of cross-channel sales and marketing


2 Responses

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  1. As I have said before, I think a key component in building the bank of the future is decisioning.
    Thanks for the link to their blog, I shall add it…

    James Taylor

    May 3, 2007 at 14:48

  2. […] to provide an answer. Some say this is too expensive, but he thinks it’s an execution issue. Read more from an interview with The Bankwatch. Posted by icontract Filed in […]

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