This year’s MRS Financial Services Research Conference saw a number of the industry’s most prominent speakers sharing not only their success stories, but the biggest challenges they face today. We have condensed the most popular themes into three key considerations for moving forward into the new year.
2017 is fast approaching and with it comes the opportunity to refocus after what has been a dramatic year in both the financial industry and the market economy. This sentiment was certainly apparent amongst the speakers and attendees at the MRS conference where trust, simplicity and sincerity were the popular buzzwords of the day as well as the importance of positive customer engagement.
Given the number of prominent speakers from leading brands across the industry, all talking about the unique challenges they were facing, you could be forgiven for accidentally writing an academic-length journal on their proposed solutions and plans for the coming months. But in the hope of avoiding such a mammoth undertaking I have pulled out three standout considerations that cropped up throughout the day.
1| We are all responsible for building trust in Financial Services
It’s no secret that trust is a cornerstone of the Financial Services sector. If we are to build consumer confidence in the industry then customer centricity, in all of its guises, is essential.
Whether it’s the legal obligation to act “at all times in the interest of their members”, the mantra upon which Leeds Building Society has built its strategy, or TSB’s removal of all advisor targeting to optimise service – brands should be putting their customers – and chiefly, getting things right for their customers – at the heart of their strategies and operations.
One only has to look at Nationwide’s latest ad campaigns outlining their mission to the market or Barclay’s age-tailored initiatives, Digital Eagles and Life Skills, to see that action is being taken and this needs to continue.
Building trust starts with listening to your customers. The key is here though, that there is scope for brands to approach this solution innovatively, generating an exciting buzz within the industry.
2| Technology is changing the face of Financial Services but simplicity is crucial
Something we can all acknowledge is that the application of new technologies into research and the customer experience is changing the way brands talk, interact and gather feedback from customers. It wasn’t surprising to hear from the Open Banking panel that over 42% of the general population use mobile devices for banking purposes.
The appetite clearly exists for technology to transform the way consumers utilise their Financial Services but simplicity is key.
We also heard that 50% of the general population do not understand financial services. It’s a staggering figure that speaks to the complexity of the products, services and solutions that are offered across the sector. We heard from Dr Bill Roberts from the CMA around the principles of marketing and selling benefits to consumers not features. This is something that banking, insurance, finance and all sub-sectors should recognise to achieve simplicity for the customer.
3| Customers want sincere relationships built on value
We’re seeing more and more that customers are seeking sincerity from their Financial Services provider. Understanding customer needs is a fundamental principle of research and more and more brands are having to consider how to build authentic and valued relationships.
During the “Engineering FS Around the Customer” session we were given a great example: Tandem Bank, a new to market digital first bank. Both are focused on authenticity and delivering valued products and services to their customers.
Tandem itself is a lesson to the industry; the company famous for the £1m of investment they attracted through crowd sourcing. These are consumers gathering together to invest in a simple but compelling proposition – to help people live better lives and to start a bank that was focused on problems not products. They recognise that delivering value for their customers does not necessarily mean striving for a reduction in effort. They also recognise that improving your finances takes time and so one of their core KPI’s will be “time well spent” – a metric truly focused around that all important value.
As the strategic head for Maru/edr Financial Services, I am passionate about delivering the best customer CX journey for our banking and Fintech clients. Please feel free to reach out to me to arrange a personalised demonstration of how Maru/edr’s CX solutions have changed both customer perception and engagement with the UK’s lead financial institutions including Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group