As banks have raced ahead with technology transformation in the form of automation and digital banking they’ve come under criticism for losing that all-important personal touch.
In the business banking sector more and more customers approach banking relationships with consumer-style behaviours. They expect efficiency, responsiveness, and superior products, but they also expect a highly personalised service.
This is particularly true of SME customers, whose personal and financial goals are often intertwined.
If banks want to retain and attract customers, they must find a way to keep pace with increasingly demanding customer expectations.
To stay relevant banks must foster a culture of curiosity
Channelled in the right way, curious banks stand a far greater chance of achieving their customer’s aspirations – customer-centric engagement, strong and enduring relationships, and the delivery of financial solutions that achieve the customer’s goals and solve their problems.
In return, the banks optimise their ability to jump on new ideas for improved outcomes, boost competitive advantage, and generate revenue growth.
NatWest is one example of a bank leading the charge in this regard, utilising technology-enabled solutions to support their vision of being a customer-first organisation:
“We exist to serve our customers and earn their trust by intuitively understanding their needs and working out clever solutions to their problems. Technology drives this vision, providing our Relationship Managers with the data and insight-driven ability to create compelling experiences throughout the customer journey” Andy Gray, Managing Director for Corporate and Commercial Coverage at NatWest.
The seven habits of the customer curious bank
Curious banks seek to understand the world through the customer’s lens – what their world looks like, what‘s important to them, what drives them, and what turns them off.
Curious banks tend to also be the ones that push boundaries, find new reasons to get excited, suggest new ideas, and uncover new ways to solve problems.
So how can you create a culture of curiosity within your bank?
Empower curious banking staff: Provide frontline staff with an environment that empowers them – the space, time, and tools they need to satisfy their insatiable curiosity.
Let them learn and practice their curiosity skills and form new habits. In return, you will be rewarded with an engaged team that goes out to seek answers, shares ideas, solves problems, and drive your bank forward.
Be curious about customers and prospects – Cultivate an authentic interest in your customer’s ecosystem. Seek opportunities to understand their brand, culture, products, and services, not just their financials.
Look for insight into their problems, objectives, short and long-term goals, and the market reality in which they operate.
Focus the direction of your curiosity on the customer and you’ll gain a greater understanding of their world and how your products and services can fit into it.
You will be better placed to predict their needs, what’s likely to happen in their market, and be first with solutions that impact both their bottom line and your own.
Be curious about people and other points of view – Customer curiosity is as much about building insight into the individual customer (decision maker) as it is about insight into their business and market.
Spot the clues that will help you understand their persona, how they like to work and engage, what is important to them, and what will make the biggest difference in their world.
If you are curious about the individual, seek to understand their point of view, and connect with their story; then you will be able to adapt the way you engage with them to have the biggest impact.
Be curious about ‘what if’ – Set aside your own agenda, take the focus off your immediate surroundings and goals, stop imposing tried and tested rationales.
Instead, get curious about ‘what if’. Seek out patterns and trends that no one else has noticed, problems the customer does not even realise they have.
Don’t get caught up in the here and now, instead cultivate curiosity in ‘what if’ and you will uncover new ways to innovate, gain first-mover advantage and differentiate service.
Be curious about new horizons – There is nothing to be gained from hanging onto the ways of the past; ‘old school’ bank thinking only hampers new world development.
Find new reasons to get excited – how your offering can be improved, new behaviours and ways of working that can enhance productivity, and the tools that can take your business to the next level for example augment banking CRM systems with real-time insight and you have a real game-changer.
Be curious by asking questions – Curiosity by nature demands the asking of questions. ‘Tell, me more about that?’ – A simple question maybe, but open-ended and therefore challenging the customer to share. Take the time to listen and you could also improve the way you influence and negotiate with customers.
Be curious for the long-term – Curiosity, as we have demonstrated, can be learned, and if practiced can deliver true behaviour and culture change, even in the most traditional of banks.
But curiosity can also wane over time. Invest in tools and training that will enhance curious front line behaviours, and provide regular feedback on results.
Motivate by example through demonstration of how curious activities have made a real difference to customers.
Becoming a curious bank
As McKinsey & Company put it: “Banks aren’t being disrupted by FinTech technology; they’re being disrupted by customer expectations.”
According to research from the Digital Banking Report, Improving the Customer Experience, only 37% of organisations have a formal CX plan in place – Artesian is on a mission to change this.
Artesian Solutions is Europe’s leading client intelligence tool for financial services companies.
We have the great privilege of serving 80% of the UK’s major banking institutions (including NatWest, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Metro Bank, Coutts and Nationwide) providing powerful engagement insights to thousands of frontline relationship managers.
“Artesian will help give us the edge when it comes to using technology and insight to deliver great customer experiences – helping us create fans, not customers. Artesian is a differentiated product, certainly worthy of investment” Kevin Barrett, Regional Director, Metro Bank