It’s now coming up to 3 months since Coronavirus hit the UK, bringing with it a lot of uncertainty, misinformation and an immediate cause for working diversification within every sector; each facing its own unique challenges.
The retail banking sector is currently facing an abundance of challenges, and it’s prudent to each of us that our high-street financial institutions have had a pandemic preparedness plan in place for this kind of situation. The most important provision in place within these plans, I believe, is having a comprehensive network of facilities, procedures and systems. This makes the transition from mostly face-to-face interaction, to remote/digital much more seamless – having the tech in place to provide assistance in mobile and digital banking will allow you to carry out “business as usual” … kind of. It’s important for any organisation, not just banks, to ensure your data is held within a proficient and secure repository, as this will enhance your ability to adapt to current affairs.
As if it wasn’t already tough within the retail banking sector, you’re also in the top 5 industries most likely to face a data breach – you guys don’t have it easy, do you?
But, how can you use this to your advantage? This is why ensuring your data health is on top form, and really utilising the information you receive from your customers is critical. For example, think back to the last time you personally filled in a form to take out a loan, and the amount of data you provided in that. There’s a lot of personal and tailorable information attained in this, and it says a lot that customers are willing to put this information across so they can better the service and offers they receive. What you do with this information can really prove to your customers you understand them and their needs; you can start to develop trust between one another. Maintaining this trust is crucial as it’s getting more challenging to actually retain your customers as the industry is so competitive and the prospect of switching providers is so enticing.
Now, we’re all human and we can all agree we LOVE free stuff, right? So, it’s easy to understand why customers are so tempted to switch accounts: Nationwide offer £100 to you and a friend*, HSBC and NatWest offer a £175 switching bonus and some offer Amazon vouchers and pizza discounts – long gone are the days of goodie bags and those ceramic piggy banks from NatWest (remember those?).
The abundance of switching offers is just another reason why it’s ever more important to stay ahead of your competitors; it’s just as challenging to keep hold of your customer’s data and cater to their needs accordingly, when flitting between providers has been made so easy.
That being said, there’s an even bigger elephant in the room that has played a huge impact on banks – Open Banking. I’ve given into the hype, and when I heard it was deemed ‘the second payment services directive’, I was intrigued. Working by sharing our financial information electronically, securely and only under conditions I approve of – it has facilitated a huge spike in the number of API’s and new services we can use.
As a spendaholic myself, I think the concept is a great idea. I didn’t have any knowledge of what open banking was until I started using it. After using Plum for a few weeks, I found its main aim is to help manage finances better for the general public. I saved up a considerable amount and learned a lot about the way I spend through my own personal spend agent (information I tried to stay oblivious to…apparently, I spend a LOT of time and money at Zara).
But there were definitely frustrations with Plum – I didn’t like that my information and spending habits were discussed via Facebook and I felt my information wasn’t secure here. I missed the interpersonal relationship with my bank, and felt I still had a lot to learn about how I could use Open Banking, so I decided to close my account. This was some time ago, and I still receive regular Facebook messages asking me to come back and how our relationship can be better the next time – sounds like a clingy ex, doesn’t it?
So, why is open banking relevant within the retail banking world?
With any new technology, comes uncertainty, misinformation and an immediate cause for working diversification – sound familiar? This is the exact same with open banking. It’s brought with it a complexity to the data landscapes we provide and use today; bringing an increase to the number of customer touchpoints and trying to connect the ever-growing number of data sources. Highstreet banks now have immense pressure on them to evolve, retain customers and personalise their communications – this shift towards digitalisation requires change from both parties, not just our banks, but customers too. We need to change our perception, and engage with banks on a different level, and receive benefits in other ways.
In any organisation, it’s more important than ever to focus on the customer message and the benefit they bring to an organisation. Not only the direct message, but the value of their data – sharing your understanding of one another creates the foundations for a healthy value exchange, enabling you to start building deeper and more meaningful relationship with your customers. Ensuring transparency, letting your customers know exactly what information is held about them, what their rights are and what you do with their information is fundamental in building this trust and keeping hold of them.
That’s where we come in – if you’re reading this, and thinking “do I have the infrastructure to support this journey and give my customers the clarity they deserve?”, please get in contact with me and I can provide you with a short demonstration of how we tackle these challenges.