Last year, the digital environment exploded during various lockdowns. Any brand unprepared to accommodate digital for 100 per cent of their customer base faced significant challenges. Banks and financial services companies – often seen to be at the mercy of legacy-based systems and architecture – were no exception. Traditional banking models suffered and there was increasing competition from shadow and neobanks. In fact, the use of financial apps and mobile banking services increased more than 61 per cent since the pandemic started.
If banks and financial services were to keep up with – or better yet, outperform – the competition, they needed to upgrade their digital customer and their omnichannel contact centre experiences to survive. Alex Thomson, Vice President of EMEA, Quantum Metric, a pioneer in Continuous Product Design (CPD) and SaaS platform that helps organisations build better digital products faster, shares more:
What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?
Over the last decade, fintech innovation has transformed the way consumers pay for goods and services online. In addition, traditional financial services providers have had to adapt quickly to ensure they remain ‘current’ in the mind of the consumer. Implementing the right technology is essential to attract new customers and retain old ones.
From our perspective, companies recognise the importance of keeping up with new technology innovations. In a market where some are more readily positioned to move and change direction quickly than others, competition is high to integrate the next best innovation – and it needs to be. However, the balance still needs to exist between innovation and justification. Don’t be too keen to run to the next best thing without knowing the last ‘next best thing’ is working for customers. Successful integration is one thing, but if your innovation isn’t being used properly, or worse, is irritating existing customers, then you’ve already lost the fight.
If implemented correctly, payments technology can help businesses make the checkout process easier and more convenient for the consumer. At worst, this will help increase checkout conversions and at best, could act as a differentiator, helping to drive repeat customers. Innovation should always have a clear, measured purpose behind it and become part of a company’s culture. Experimenting, testing, failing, succeeding and then incorporating this into a product or overall offering is vital.
How has this changed over the past few years?
Over the last few years, companies have had to evolve and iterate even quicker to ensure they remain ‘current’ in the mind of the consumer. With the increasing importance of digital, creating a stand-out, positive customer experience (CX) has become vital. Over the last 24 months, businesses’ views of CX have had to change. In short, COVID-19 gave companies a CX wake-up call.
The companies that were already delivering a high-quality online experience excelled and thrived. The virtual footfall of the pandemic has only piled on the pressure to produce an amazing experience. Today, there shouldn’t be a company that doesn’t have CX as a priority to the point that CX should be a boardroom reporting issue represented by a CXO.
This means being competitive, compelling and relevant to the point of hyper-personalisation and not giving consumers any excuse to leave the site or go elsewhere. By finding spots of friction and removing them, companies can see what content is working and why. Taking it to the next level, companies need to do this for every single individual that comes into a digital environment, be it via PC, mobile web or app, or risk being left in the (digital) dust.
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?
Quantum Metric is currently moving from a start-up to a hyper-growth-stage company and this is happening quickly which means maintaining our original culture is always going to be something of a challenge. However, it’s also something that’s very close to all our hearts. Mario Ciabarra, our founder and CEO starts every all-hands meeting citing our core values of passion, persistence and integrity as his main reasons for coming into work every day.
This is so important to maintaining the culture, that even at 400+ employees, and growing, Mario still interviews every single person before they are offered a job. We work hard to retain a sense of openness and collaboration that puts people, both employees and customers, at our centre. In fact, we were recently named one of the best companies to work for by Glassdoor in the US. The key to this is hiring people who share our values and drive. We’ve been fortunate to attract talent from some of the world’s biggest brands including many of our existing customers.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
Ultimately, in an age where customer attention spans last mere seconds, brand engagement is key. Attention is the new currency and the ability to satisfy quickly is the killer advantage businesses must focus on to stay relevant and alive. Fintechs and financial companies need to get customers on board quickly to grow so once again, ensuring the best possible CX is an essential priority to succeed.
For the financial services industry, in particular, services must be offered in direct response to what customers want, not what the fintech market dictates, and that mid-set transformation is the main challenge facing both us and the banks.
Can these challenges be aided by fintech?
We don’t consider ourselves a fintech, but we do provide a technical solution to fintech problems.
For us, this lies in changing cultures. As much of a stretch as it sounds, we live to help companies build cultures that are maniacally focused on winning the hearts of their customers.
We don’t start there of course – that’s the endpoint. We start with data. We link real-time data to individuals and show how these people are acting and reacting with an organisation’s digital products. If products are then developed iteratively, based on the biggest impact areas to the business, it inevitably creates a situation in which a better product comes out of a focus on customer behaviour.
Before you know it, the product is being used more, contact centre calls are dropping, and satisfaction scores are going up alongside customer loyalty. Not a bad outcome for being ‘maniacally focused on winning hearts’.
There have been positive efforts in the drive to make a customer-centric strategy a business priority, not least post the pandemic-driven shift to digital, yet there’s still a lot to be done. As well as offering a more pleasant finance experience, great CX builds trust – something that is essential to the consumer when a business is handling their money. Under the pressure from disruptive competitors, BFS&I companies absolutely have to think of CX – and the technology that supports it – as a tool to differentiate themselves and spur growth