Financial Services Blog

Shifting from provider to partner with customers and employees can help financial services companies boost loyalty and uncover new value.

By creating partnerships with the people using their products, services or technologies, financial services organizations have a new opportunity to create long-term loyalty—with lasting value in both the marketplace and the workplace.

The more companies understand why customers buy their products or how employees use workplace tools, the more these things can be molded to help people achieve their goals. Businesses that walk alongside and support individuals throughout their journeys, can deliver an experience that adapts and conforms over time.

Most companies do already recognize the importance of these new relationships: 80 percent of the executives we surveyed for our Technology Vision 2017 report agree that their organization needs to understand not only where people are today, but where they want to be. And they recognize that by shaping technology to meet people’s expectations, they can realize desired outcomes.

 80 percent of the executives we surveyed agree that organizations need to understand not only where people are today, but also where they want to be.


Shifting from provider to partner requires a change in thinking

Becoming a partner demands fundamental shifts in the ways leaders think about their business. Businesses succeed when their people succeed, which means that driving people toward a product or service, or quickly increasing employee productivity can no longer be a primary focus. Instead, companies must help define a path that people can follow to reach their goals.

In the workforce, partnership is about addressing employees’ goals. One such goal could be discovering business insights without having to use complicated technical solutions. Businesses can respond by aligning technology tools to make task completion more natural.

Tableau Software, for example, has developed a tool that lets people perform exploratory analysis on data visualizations, drilling down into areas of interest by asking questions in plain English. Tableau’s focus is on integrating the tool, Eviza, with existing visualizations, so that people can have a conversation with a visual representation of data. From a graph showing the locations of earthquakes in the United States, an employee could ask, “Where are the large earthquakes?”, and Eviza will return a new version of the graph to provide the answer. This natural language processing eliminates a major source of employee frustration by delivering technology that helps them do their jobs better.

The cadence of relationships must also shift

Besides changing the focus of relationships, the cadence of those relationships must shift as well. It may give pause to companies used to monetizing every interaction, but long-term partnerships come with large opportunities. Customers who feel emotionally connected to a business buy more products, use more services, provide vocal support and pay more attention to company communications and advice.

Research has found that emotionally connected customers deliver 52 percent more value compared to customers who are highly satisfied, but not emotionally connected. Yet a consumer study found that only 25 percent of traditional retail customers felt their individual needs were being catered to. The gap between potential and captured value is tremendous, and financial services companies have a chance to close it.In industries outside financial services, companies are already beginning to take this approach. L’Oréal, for example, has committed to providing their employees with ongoing opportunities for education by using Coursera for Business to increase the breadth of training material and certification programs available to employees.

Technology that guides employees toward their goals, adapted to areas of strength and weakness to maximize useful learning, presents greater opportunities for increased job satisfaction. This translates into value through reduced turnover, since replacing an employee can cost a business more than 20 percent of that individual’s salary. 

Customer and employee journeys intersect

It’s also worth noting that customer and employee journeys can intersect. Hulu, a video on-demand provider noticed returning customers’ satisfaction ratings were lower than expectations. By studying customer and employee feedback, the company discovered that customers were reacting poorly to aggressive sales tactics.

In response, Hulu adjusted their sales bonus structure for employees to emphasize customer retention over sales. Based on a Hulu subscriber base of 12 million customers, an improvement of even 1 percent in retention using this behavior-focused approach could generate another $11 million in annual revenue.

By taking a closer look at their relationships with customers and employees, and finding ways to help them meet their goals, financial services companies could boost loyalty, redefine their position as a partner and uncover hidden value.

In my next post I’ll explore the trend of digital ecosystems and the need to define new rules and regulations.

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