Africa is home to seven of the ten fastest growing countries in the world, and is quickly becoming an attractive market for retail banking leaders. The market is expected to almost double its share of total GDP by 2020, but achieving this growth will only be possible if banks tackle the challenges surrounding regulation, innovation and customer experience.
I read with interest a report by one of the large management consultancies that shouts, as if proclaiming some amazing revelation, that the key to building a successful digital customer experience lies in three things: Confidence in the Service, Confidence in the Experience and Confidence in the Brand... wow! I am really sorry, but what is new here?
This week, I am writing from Accra, Ghana, where I am visiting leading bankers in this country and discussing how they can evolve their businesses to meet the challenging African market.
The banks want innovation, they look with envious eyes at what is being done in some of the European Banks - like Virgin Money, Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland - and wish they had the budgets to deliver such beautiful experiences.
In Africa, the three rules above are relevant, but one has to look beneath them to really understand what these rather sweeping statements actually mean to the CEO’s of Banks like Ecobank (@groupecobank), Ghana Commercial Bank and others here.
Take ‘Confidence in the service or device’. The reality here is that convenience and cost are critical. In the cities, the technology works, the internet is good and there are no problems using mobile internet, but in the bush, you get a different story. People here have a simple desire, to have a service that works, that is safe and secure... although, unlike many African countries I visit, this country is safe and seems secure too.
‘Confidence in the experience’ means that the service is designed to work in a way people understand. The customer journey has been developed to an extent that customers connect with the service in a simple way, the way they want to. They don’t care ‘how it works’, only that it does... and in a way that is simple.
And, finally, ‘Confidence in the brand’. In banking, in this part of the world, this is crucial. It is a place where perception, wins hearts and minds and when your brand achieves that, it wins.
I said at the beginning of this short piece that I found nothing staggering in the research findings - and there is nothing. The statements are already known, banks, telco’s and just about every other business around the world are already focusing their efforts on achieving this balance. My question is what next... let’s fast forward a few years when any brand worth its salt will have achieved all three of the above - or come close to achieving a balance. It is all very well telling the world what it already knows, but how about a little bit of future gazing for a moment?
From my perspective, all three of these statements have an overarching theme that is missing. I have written about it before, and I will no doubt write about it again. Businesses that win in the future will be personal and relevant... and I mean really personal. They will know us all individually. This is the way to build trust and loyalty, this is the way to win in the future. Set your business up for success by getting personal. Personal does not necessarily mean complex profiling and targeted marketing at first, it could be as simple a a ‘happy birthday’ for you customers. But it is personal. Businesses that win in the future will offer services that make our lives simpler and more convenient... they will save us the most precious asset of all... time... and they will work by being beautifully simple at the front and incredibly powerful underneath - after all, customers really don’t care how it works, as long as it works in a way they want.