If there is one element of business strategy that is likely to be of paramount importance for financial institutions (FIs) over the coming years, it is surely innovation.
Financial services providers of all shapes and sizes must embrace innovative thinking in order to keep up with the evolving market and deliver the highest standards of customer experience.
Accenture, together with Efma, an association of more than 3,300 retail financial services firms, recently celebrated those brands taking a pioneering approach to their services at the fifth annual Distribution & Marketing Innovation (DMI) Awards for retail banking.
By looking at some of the winners, we can gain insight into some of the business goals and consumer expectations guiding innovation in our industry.
Innovating to deliver customer value
How do our services provide genuine value and a stronger experience for the customer? That should be one of the key questions guiding any FI’s innovation efforts.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, consumers who feel they are not receiving a relevant, beneficial service from their provider are likely to consider what rival brands have to offer.
The results of the DMI Awards suggest that in order to keep up with the competition, financial services organizations should be working hard to deliver experiences that prioritize speed, convenience and omni-channel consistency.
KBC Bank of Belgium topped the customer experience and engagement category on the strength of a car loan product based on blockchain technology. The solution aims to provide a seamless service for consumers, from initial placement of the order to the moment they drive the car off the dealer's lot.
Barclaycard UK was also recognized in the wallets and payments category for Grab+Go. Again, the focus of this 'pocket checkout' offering is to make transactions as quick and easy as possible for the consumer. It allows shoppers to scan items they wish to purchase as soon as they take them off the store shelf, saving the time and inconvenience of queuing at the checkout.
These solutions demonstrate how brands can set themselves apart and engender customer loyalty by focusing their innovation efforts on what people truly want and need.
Integrating innovation into business culture
In order to be truly effective, innovation must be embraced on an enterprise-wide level, from the very top of a business all the way down to frontline staff, spanning all departments in the process.
This is particularly important in the retail banking sector. In order to deliver a seamless, coherent customer experience across various channels - from mobile to branch - the various teams responsible for delivering these services should be working with the same systems, processes and philosophies.
Established FIs should be investing in moving away from legacy technologies and adopting end-to-end digital infrastructure. In our current era, where consumer expectations are being driven by the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon, customers expect a similar level of technological sophistication and personalized service from their bank.
It's also important to measure the success of your innovation efforts, using metrics such as the number of new ideas that actually reach the market and make a difference to the end user experience.
Taking an enterprise-wide approach to innovation and gauging the impact your strategies have will help to ensure that you are delivering truly valuable, relevant services to your customer base.
This, in turn, will add value to the company, through stronger brand loyalty and new revenue opportunities