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Back to basics

With so many organisations being drawn towards a digital offer, it may come as some surprise that I am writing this article about going back to basics. Yet, on my recent travels around the region to Kuwait, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, UAE and Bahrain, I am compelled to write about what I saw - some good and some not so good.

One thing is for certain, there are definite trends emerging in many sectors. Banks and telco’s are moving to smaller format offers in retail complimented by digital products and services, fewer staff are seen in stores and they have the feel of ‘universal servers’. In other words, individuals with a good understanding of the variety of services their employers offer, backed up by remote specialists who offer a more detailed information if customers need it.

As many of you who read my articles will know, this is a winning model. There is no compromise on ‘face-to-face’ service, no over emphasis on ‘virtual servers’ and a human touch that customers want - especially in banking. However, when will banks and telco’s learn that if they are going to put technology into a store, it has to work!

All to often I am asked to visit ailing branches where bankers, with the best of intentions have tried to do their best to ‘go digital’, only to fail at the final hurdle. The hardware in place, but the software is sadly lacking - or not even working.

If you are planning to ‘go digital’ in your stores, here are some tips that may help you get it right.

  • Give the technology a purpose - don’t add technology for the sake of it. This is a waste of money and will not deliver results

  • Consider your customer journey - each piece of technology has to have a purpose. It should help you learn from your customers, sell to your customers, teach your customers or help them perform a transaction

  • Digital is a beast that needs feeding - remember that whatever you do with digital, you need to display content... and this content needs to change regularly. Be prepared for this

  • Technology has to be culturally appropriate - think about your customers and install technology that will work for them. Be aware of local cultures and habits and do not force your customers outside their comfort zones. They may already be nervous about using tech

  • Don’t over promise - technology is adaptive and as such can change and evolve as your capabilities become more sophisticated. Never over promise with your technology offer, you only have one chance to get customers engaged and if the technology does not meet their expectation, you will loose customers

  • Gather data - have a smart back end behind your technology that helps you understand how customers are using it, for what and if they have been successful in completing the tasks they set out to do

  • Trust is critical - thoroughly test the technology to make sure it works in the way you want it to. Avoid error messages like the one at the top of this article taken from a bank web site in the region

  • It has to work - last but by no means least, the technology has to work. There is nothing worse than a store with lots of tech that does not work. Give someone the responsibility for making sure it works all the time

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