SDL: Global customer experience management - Bernadette Nixon

Digital banking is more than creating an app or updating a website - it's about using sophisticated analytics to deliver outstanding customer service. To stay competitive, banks need to offer trusted and convenient services to customers worldwide. At the same time, they must capture new types of data and automate workflows to enhance overall customer experience. To examine this, Future Banking sits down with Bernadette Nixon, chief revenue officer at SDL, as she discusses how technology can be used to harmonise banking systems in targeting the right customers, at the right time, to ultimately boost bank profitability.

Today, customers demand more from their banks, and competition from banking alternatives is fierce. Delivering digital banking alone is no longer a competitive advantage. While most banks want to increase service levels to compete, it is often the most difficult thing to scale. To better serve their depositors, banks must have laser-like focus on their customers' journey. To do this, they must integrate legacy systems that, while secure, do not traditionally play well with web-based tools.

Banks should focus on their core strengths and consider how digital platforms may allow them to scale quickly, while maintaining a focus on serving their customers. Technology is used to improve customer satisfaction through optimising experiences across channels and engaging customers with personalised, targeted communications that drive revenue growth.

Global banks must capitalise on digital trends, and strike a balance between branch, web and app services.

Customers want to be able to do their banking in the most convenient way possible. This may be online/PC, online/tablet, online/kiosk, ATM, in person, or via a call centre, all in their language. Customer service is no longer centred on branches; conversations are taking place online. It is the responsibility of all banks to manage these channels and deliver a clear message. While customers may seek a one-stop-shop, it is vital to the success of digital banks to stick with what they are good at, and deliver a seamless experience in those areas. Expand services with a cautious eye towards doing right by your customers and not trying to be everything to everybody.

To compete at the global level, institutions are repositioning their core systems to synchronise experiences across channels. By harmonising this journey, banks convert loyal depositors into brand champions. This is not as easy as it sounds; implementing safe, secure and trusted digital services is a major challenge for today's bankers. To complicate this, their branch footprint needs to complement their online experience.

Banks are taking pages from retailers like Majestic Wines that use external analytics along with their own data to customise experiences, like offering customers targeted varietal choices. SDL solutions enable Majestic to know when that targeted customer walks into one of its stores or visits its websites. Banks could learn from this by using account data to personalise trending offers as their customers' transition from web to mobile to branch. Part of the reason why there are so many retail executives in banking is that they can connect the dots from analytics to revenue. Bernadette Nixon:explains further to Future Banking.

What are some of the challenges compelling banks to implement new technologies?

Bernadette Nixon: Experience says that the risk drives the approach here. Leveraging existing investments and oftentimes incontrovertible back end systems with more agile solutions is vital. Combining the data and knowledge that resides in the legacy and web applications in agile, customer-centric solutions is the low-risk/high-reward approach. This method gives actionable data (transactional, behavioural, lifestyle and contextual) while, at the same time, breaking down organisational silos, giving a view on the entire customer journey.

Most banks are investing in applications that make customer transactions easier. Technology itself won't deliver competitive advantage; what banks do with it to develop a unique, personalised customer experience is what matters. An example of this can be found in customer-journey analytics. Not just demographics spliced with account data, but using insight throughout the process and blogosphere to develop a personalised data-driven experience.

Data is driving customer experience management at banks worldwide.

I recently met with several Australian banks. Many of them wanted to target qualified website visitors with personalised offerings, for specific types of financial instruments. Recommending right-time products requires analytics from a variety of sources. This is where SDL's solutions integrate well.

What approach should banks take to manage customer experience?

It should feel like the bank understands you, and that it is trying to use the information it has about you to help. It shouldn't feel like you're being sold to. Some people may think it's creepy, but it creates a relationship where customers feel like they're known. We believe the relationship goes from 'unknown' to 'known' and then to 'understood'. Once the bank and the customer understand each other, it enables you to put the 'personal' back into personal banking. Across the board, banks that focus on customer experience and get it right outperform those that do not. If you compare the share prices of the bank laggards with the leaders, it's reflected there as well.

A lot of banking offers are commoditised, so it's easy for one bank to leapfrog another with a new product, like a better annual interest rate on their credit card. Consequently, the customer experience becomes much more important as a differentiator. It's extremely difficult for a bank to create something like the platinum-card service that American Express has offered for so many years.

The right conversation, with the right person, at the right time is the foundation for unassisted sales and servicing. Its true value can be measured in banks' customer acquisition costs, retention, profitability and customer lifetime value. This is where SDL solutions really come into their own by allowing banks to easily manage lots of customer interactions all with unique, contextual relevancy across every stage of their journey regardless of language, location, device or channel.

What challenges has SDL solved for digital banks?

SDL has implemented solutions with over 70 global financial institutions and we understand the dynamics necessary to become a digital banking leader.

ABN AMRO Bank based in Amsterdam, operates more than 4,500 locations in 53 countries. It came to SDL to enhance go-to-market efficiency. Using SDL Web, ABN AMRO was able to roll out approved marketing and brand communications across all channels.

BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) provides financial services in more than 31 countries, to 50 million customers, and came to SDL to create an interactive online experience for their customers through an enhanced customer journey. BBVA chose SDL because we were able to provide an integrated visitor experience for the corporate-public site.

Virgin Money came to SDL to rebrand and to unify its global web presence. Today, its website reaches 44,000 unique visitors daily; of that, 58% are return visitors and 32% of overall visitors are using tablets or mobile devices.

How long has SDL been around, and what is your core business?

SDL (LSE: SDL) was founded in the UK in 1992, and was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1999. Today, SDL has more than 1,500 enterprise customers and a global infrastructure of 70 offices in 38 countries.

SDL helps banks optimise the customer experience across their entire banking journey. Through web-content management, customer journey analytics, campaign management and translation services, SDL helps organisations gain data-driven insights to deliver more engaging and contextual experiences.

SDL launched its Customer Experience Cloud (CXC) to be an integrated technology platform that provides banks with easy access to the necessary data and analysis tools to capitalise on engagement opportunities, enhance account activity and increase loyalty.

In order to grow customer value over time, banks must deliver the right customer experience, and that requires a range of different ingredients. Ultimately, SDL provides banks with the digital technology solutions to let them do just that.

Bernadette Nixon, chief revenue officer at SDL.
SDL helps the world’s best brands deliver exceptional customer experiences.