• August 1, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Market Focus: Financial Services--Cashing In on Integration

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Financial services (FS) firms aren't shy about investing in CRM. But as product commoditization and mounting service expectations continue to alter the landscape, treating customer experience as a competitive differentiator remains especially critical. Some FS firms struggle to shed their silo-heavy approaches to provide high-touch customer experiences to cultivate loyalty and more-robust bottom lines. "A lot of the large national banks have primarily been organized by line of business, so what ends up happening is it's really difficult within the organization to share information about a customer," says Cindy von Hollen, banking industry principal at SAP. This piecemeal view also plays heavily into how effectively banks can communicate with their customers across channels. "We see repeatedly first-hand how these bank call centers are cost-driven," says Harry Fouke, a senior analyst at Proudfoot Consulting. "Management feels revenue per call is important, but frontline supervisors migrate toward efficiency and service levels. Call center personnel therefore tend to talk about new and improved products without a strategy that addresses a customer's specific needs or situation--without really engaging the customer--and try instead to end the conversation relatively fast." (It's worth noting, however, that according to a recent CFI Group study, banking call centers scored just three points away from first place.) As banks add additional channels, such as Web-based touch points and mobile banking--avenues that are beginning to pick up more steam with the younger demographic--they must focus on customer data integration and customer segmentation to craft more targeted campaigns. While there are legal issues, von Hollen says, "one of the things that banks can be focusing on is how to consolidate information in such a way that they can respect privacy and ensure data security, along with providing the right level of service for their customers." That "right level of service" has proved elusive for FS firms. A June report from Forrester Research also underscored the importance of an independent approach to customer interactions in the sector; in a ranking of FS firms and categories according to customer perception of the firms' prioritization of the customer's needs, only one of the top five had a nationwide footprint. As the amount of data collected by FS firms continues to increase, integration grows more important, as does a "bottom-up" approach to the application of that data. "Everybody has multiple systems, whether they be custom or other third-party systems," says Richard Smith, vice president of CRM strategy at Green Beacon Solutions. The issue going forward, he says, will be to select a platform that "gives them that integrated solution, enabling them to have not only that 360-degree view of the customer, but also to do analytics and marketing to figure out how to best spend internal dollars on servicing their customers."
Top 3 Vendors in Financial Services:
  • Oracle's Siebel Systems
  • Salesforce.com
  • SAP
Source: Beagle Research See Sidebar: Market Focus: Financial Services--Case Study Barclaycard Business: Financing workforce management. Related Articles
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