Wednesday, July 31, 2013

4 Steps to Become a Customer-Centric Financial Institution

These days, financial institutions must look past the cash and focus their customers. According to Standard Bank’s Sandeep Deobhakta, here are four key steps banks should take to achieve customer centricity.

1. Listen - The first step in the journey toward customer centricity is for business leaders to listen to what their customers are saying. This allows organizations to get an understanding of their customers' needs and these insights can be used to ensure that all communications are tailored to individual customers.

2. Steer Away From Product Centricity – Instead of focusing on the profitability of products. use insights gathered from Voice of Customer (VOC) endeavors to move away from being product-centric and put customers at the core of business. According Deobhakta, business leaders need to think in terms of what customers require to be successful in different facets of their lives. Banks that understand this principle are in a better position to ensure that their products fit well within the customer journey.

3. Address the Data Conundrum - Financial institutions are collecting large amounts of customer data both from transactions and interactions with staff. However, many organizations are still facing challenges in turning this data into actionable insights. A major hurtle lies in information silos that need to be bridged in order to give decision-makers a single view of the customer. One way to do this is to have a robust data platform that brings together data from different repositories, and is instrumental in helping banks identify customer needs and engage with them on a personalized basis, said Deobhakta.

4. Be Culture Sensitive - Organizations need to understand the varying nuances that make them tick. Understanding culture is an important part of Standard Bank's strategy and this reflects in the core banking platform that the bank has deployed across the African continent. The organization understands that while customers' foundational needs are similar, their actions are likely to be dictated by demographic influences, and the bank has adapted its system to reflect country specific regulations and social nuances.

Financial services organizations need to understand that being seen as a customer-centric organization is not solely a positive marketing strategy. This is a sound investment which affects products and services offerings, sales process and distribution, infrastructure, as well as ongoing customer treatment which will lead to more satisfied customers. Then they will be likely to remain loyal to the brand.

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmanadCicc. 
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