In a world where everything is now, now, now, and where speed, convenience, and accessibility are driving the new economy, banks can no longer rely on their ‘pillar of the community’ attitude to win in the ultra-competitive world they find themselves in.
Banks have been forced to reinvent their customer journeys to such an extent that customers are now, finally, faced with banking services that behave in the way they want them to and are not being driven by what the bank would like customers to do… and innovation is showing itself in many simple ways, ways that are often overlooked by big organizations who are shooting for the big wins… and small innovations are delivering significant revenue growth and brand loyalty.
At the heart of every innovation is the need to think differently, and, at least in my experience, banks are embracing this philosophy and driving forward. I am seeing many of the banks I work with introducing new, more simpler tools for opening accounts. For example, it was only the other day that I learned ‘Liv’ the digital bank from EmiratesNBD has launched another first in the region. Traditionally, the new account opening process was tedious, especially if you are a lady. However old-fashioned and out-dated it may seem, permission from a sponsor is still needed if a lady would like to open a bank account here in the UAE. EmiratesNBD has approached this problem head on and have totally reinvented the new account sign-on process whereby the account holder (whether male or female), only has to make an application online, upload their ID card and then the account is active. Now, this may seem like a minor innovation and an incredulous one for those of you reading this outside the Arab world, but it is an innovation so simple in nature and so focussed on customer need, that the bank is seeing enormous growth amongst lady customers. They have seen impressing growth amongst female customers.
In Jordan recently, I had the great pleasure of working with a CEO from a bank there who has really looked the customer journey amongst young people and come up with a beautiful solution to engaging them with his bank. By partnering with local universities, the bank has provided every student with a dual purpose card. It enables access to the university (without this the student cannot enter school), and it is also a bank debit card that is charged with a small amount for every student. Why is this innovation so important? It not only gets the banks brand in front of future customers, it enables the bank to understand customer behaviors in detail. Registering and gathering data on every customer, what they like, what they don’t like, where they spend their money and where they don’t. In other words, the bank is at the heart of the customer's life, can use real data to shape their business offer and can lead with certainty, where their competitors are guessing. They have seen their business grow by 45% annually.
In Europe, I recently met with a client who had spent a fortune on developing a new digital branch but had missed so many tricks when it came to speaking to customers in their branches. By using the data gathered by their Q-Matic system, the bank where able to understand what type of customers are in their branches when. So, gone are the days of generic messaging to the masses, by using the digital screens to post content that is relevant to the customers who are in the branch are a particular time, the bank stands a far greater opportunity to win. They are able to understand the type of customer in the branch, they are able to tailor their messages to suit that customer and measure the impact those messages are having on customers purchasing habits. This bank saw a 35% increase in cross-selling in their branches. A figure which more than covered the cost of the transformation and the campaign generation.
So, from the three examples I have given above, one can see, that by focussing on the customer journey, it is possible to innovate in small ways, remove friction for customers and deliver impressive customer engagement and growth.
In a nutshell, incremental change is something customers like, keep it simple, don’t always focus on the big things, focus on the pain points and make them go away - look for the elephant in the room (that big thing that is staring you in the face and it sometimes hard to see).