Thought leadership

The Financial Services sector is under continuing pressure to get its customer offering back on track. That pressure comes from consumers, who have lost trust in the sector for a host of reasons, and also from regulatory bodies who are introducing a roster of changes that impact on the relationship between financial services providers and those who use their products and services.

This Customer Engagement in Financial Services Directors Forum hosted by Gallup and sponsored by Confirmit, Interactive Intelligence and Rapide highlighted the key issues and challenges facing the much maligned financial services sector – which receives a staggering 20,000 complaints day from UK customers – and its relationships with customers against a backdrop of continued difficult economic conditions. It offered practical solutions to these challenges for a sector that. It drilled down to the core of the problems and helped delegates find the best way forward.

First by name and First by nature

The opening and truly inspirational keynote came from Andrew Lea, Head of Banking Services, First Direct with his presentation  ‘Fostering a Customer Centric Culture’

Andrew who has been with First Direct as a founding member since it opened to business in 1989 revealed how customer engagement and service excellence are more important than ever before in a Financial Services industry wrestling with a deep mistrust of Banks, increased regulation and the impacts of a harsh economic climate.

Andrew outlined the fundamental principles and unwavering customer focus that First Direct hold dear, highlighting the engagement and service strategies that have helped to differentiate the business in such a competitive marketplace. He focussed on the need to respond to today’s significant challenges and examine what opportunities exist to retain or regain customer trust and loyalty

Wells Fargo on a roll

Andrew was followed by Jay Freeman, Gallup Senior Advisor and former Exec VP, Wells Fargo Bank who took delegates through the US banks employee and customer engagement strategies including cross-selling mechanism that have engendered a massive hike in profitability/

Jay explained how Financial Services companies can achieve real and sustainable competitive advantage by recognising that their customer relationships include an essential emotional component that can be measured, managed and improved – one customer at a time. Jay told delegates why cross-selling is key to growing your business, how to bring great customer service to life and some best practices in customer experience concept and execution.

Jay was followed by Jeff Green, Financial Services Client Consultant, Rapide with his presentation How to engage customers on the right channel and at the right time’

Jeff explained how in  a heavily scrutinised industry the need for companies in the banking and finance sector to meet and exceed customer expectations has never been greater. For over 12 years Rapide has been helping industry leading clients like Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds do just that. Using real case study examples including HSBC  he explored how engaging customers in the right way, at the right time can enhance customer experience, increase retention and even generate revenue.

Nationwide the world's biggest

Another excellent case study from the world’s biggest building society was presented Lynne Wood, Head of Customer Experience, Nationwide Building Society with her presentation On your side and the journey to Challenger Brand’. Lynne, who has recently moved to Nationwide from HSBC gave a fascinating view  of Nationwide’s ‘clear blue water’  employee and customer engagement strategy and how the organisation is moving customer experience from measures to a business discipline with the key being to deliver on the brand promise every single time

Following on from Lynne was Claire Sporton, VP, Customer Experience Management, Confirmit with her case study driven presentation Driving success through engagement and action’ Claire explained how financial services organisations face a multitude of challenges, ranging from regulatory pressures, to complex customer journeys, and rising expectations.

The key to thriving in this demanding environment is to ensure you drive engagement at all levels of your organisation, and to empower your employees to do the right thing for your customers and the business. Using examples including Metro Bank in the UK  and UMPQUA Bank in the US Claire shared  some tips about building the right culture, and about delivering results in a measurable way, to ensure long-term success.

Where do we go from here

Following the lunch break came a lively and far reaching panel debate under the title ‘Financial Services Where Do We Go From Here’ which examined in detail the issues of culture, people empowerment, leasdership and trust which are to pivotal to the sector going forward.

This debate was followed by Prof Moira Clark, Head of Marketing, Henley Business School andStephen Whitty, Head of Customer Experience,RBS, Business Services with their joint presentation of ‘A Case Study: RBS, Effortless Engagement – Are you Working Your Retail Customers Too Hard?’

Effortless engagement or ‘making it easy to be a customer’ is where the real fight for competitive advantage can be found. The session focussed on: what do we mean by customer effort; understanding the different types of customer effort; how to map out the customer effort journey and how to build customer loyalty by adopting low-customer effort. Stephen Whitty took delegates through the RBS journey thus far and  revealed there is some way to go.

Final presentation was another case study on Skipton Building Society delivered by Conrad Simpson, Director, Interactive Intelligence. Conrad examined how Skipton rose to the challenges presented by an increasingly multichannel business environment. He looked at how Skipton overcame some of the issues around internal silos and at some of the business benefits that have arisen from the organisation’s forward thinking multichannel customer engagement strategy.

And finally …

Summing up what was a truly inspirational day for delegates  from some of the largest banks, building societies and insurance providers globally Customer Engagement Network editorial director and Directors Forum chairman Steve Hurst said it was clear that organisational culture, employee empowerment, consistency of delivery and leadership from the top were the keys to the financial services sector regaining the customer trust  it has lost over the past four years.


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