Embracing digital transformation in the finance sector

Squiz MD talks through how several of its Australian customers are responding to rapidly shifting customer expectations and digital disruption in the financial services sector.

The rapid evolution of digital, mobile and social technologies has propelled the financial industry into an era of transformative agility and adaptability.

A report by Econsultancy released in June this year, Digital Transformation in the Financial Services Sector, revealed the financial industry is continually facing challenges from new business models and new players entering emerging markets, dramatically changing the ecosystem and making the financial sector ripe for digital transformation.

Companies in the banking and financial sector see investment in digital and related skills as critical to success and customer experience is now a primary focus for marketers, the report found. As a result, the report also revealed having the right strategy to deliver digital transformation is now seen as essential to any financial organisation, with data being perceived as critical to the transformative journey.

According to the report, customer experience represents the single best opportunity for the financial services industry to deliver on their priorities for 2015 at 33 per cent, followed by the need to drive personalisation at 12 per cent. This was followed by the need to enhance mobile, drive marketing automation, enhance social media engagement and leverage video content.

Edward Braddock, managing director of global tech and strategy business, Squiz, claimed the pressure is on the financial industry to embrace digital transformation in order to stay competitive. The technology vendor has played an integral part in transforming several financial institutions in Australia through digital technology including Bendigo Bank, Macquarie Bank and IOOF Holdings.

Braddock stressed leadership and trying to find the champions for change internally is key in achieving any sort of digital transformation.

“Quite often, we’re finding these leaders in the marketing and comms area,” he told CMO. “They’re the people that are quite agile and have that a customer-centric view of everything they do. That’s certainly what I think banks are focusing on, this renewed vigour.

“Coming up with a plan that actually reaches across the organisation is key. It’s about breaking down internal silos, being able to have those key people within an organisation who can understand and hold a customer view. This is particularly important for the financial sector.”

A multi-disciplinary, transformative approach is also essential, and Braddock stressed the need to stretch beyond just transforming traditional website engagement in order to deliver an authentic and seamless customer journey.

“It’s about embracing some of the more innovative apps and online presences than just a website,” he said. “Banks that are coming up with that can better engage with their clients.”

Putting digital into practice

Bendigo Bank has been a client of Squiz’s for the past few years after making the decision to take a significant shift towards digital to enhance customer engagement.

“We were initially engaged around Bendigo’s public-facing website and there was a complete re-development there, but from a very customer-centric perspective,” Braddock explained. “Bendigo Bank’s broader vision is based around being Australia’s leading customer connected bank, and that connection historically has been more bricks-and-mortar.

“The bank an extensive network of over 500 branches, but the online demand was there and it began seeing increases in traffic to their website. The bank just wasn’t able to keep up with what clients were expecting from in terms of online presence from a financial institution.”

Squiz partnered with Bendigo Bank to set up a new site that Braddock said has continued to evolve over the years. The two are now working together to roll out a suite of content changes and updates to create even more targeted content moving forward.

“We are already seeing an over 300 per cent improvement in terms of access and time on the bank’s site,” he said. “It has been a work in progress and we’ve been able to prove some key, significant wins for them in terms of engagement with their customers through that avenue. The bank is now branching out and looking at other opportunities online to be able to continue enhancing the engagement with their clients.”

Macquarie Bank is also working actively with Squiz to roll out a new researcher portal.

“It’s all about being able to bring information to the market quicker and being able to ease the authorship, and then distributing content out to people as quickly as possible,” Braddock said. “So they’re streamlining both the customer experience coming in, to access that information, plus at the same time, streamlining the authoring process.”

Another Squiz client, IOOF Holdings, worked with the tech company to consolidate its intranet structure in order to transform both its internal processes and external customer engagement strategies.

“IOOF just consolidated about 30 different intranets into a single intranet internally for them, so it’s more of an internal customer view and it has really simplified a lot of their business processes,” Braddock said.

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