The importance of helping customers do things for themselves
How new technologies have transformed clients’ desire for self-service in the luxury lifestyle sector
By David Porter, Managing Director for Strategy, Customer Value Proposition and Distribution, Ten Lifestyle Group
After the much-hyped dot-com explosion almost 20 years ago, we are now well and truly living through a new technological era that has seen the transformation of cities and communities. Modern technology now plays a pivotal role in the way we live our lives; it is therefore no surprise that seven in ten people own a smart phone, bringing fast internet to their fingertips;from how we communicate, how our experiences are defined, how industries perform and grow, and how customer expectations are delivered, modern technology is deeply rooted in our daily activities. With the rise in efficiency and ease of operability, demand from consumers has grown, particularly with a view to their own finances and the plethora of services customers can derive from an increasingly enabled world.
At Ten Lifestyle Group, we have keenly observed this technological evolution, seeking to provide our members with a first-class, technology-enabled lifestyle concierge service, which develops alongside ongoing technological progress. We operate a model with billions of data touch-points and a DNA of codified knowledge that embraces and thrives upon complexity. The result is a vast network of luxury restaurants, hotels, events venues and experiences, as well as expert recommendations given by our dedicated relationship managers, meaning we are able to say “yes” to our clients where others cannot.
However, where clients have previously sought immediate and effortless access to the best facilities around the world, a turning of the tides has been observed in favour of services whereby individuals can fulfil their own interests at the touch of a button, via their smart devices and in their own time. This idea of self-service has been observed by global market research and market insight firm Mintel, who acknowledge that while there will always be a need for in-person financial transactions, even where digital improvements are launching at a fast pace, the ever-investigative nature of people mean their propensity to manage their own financial behaviours is only likely to increase in the coming years.
This trend is particularly prominent in the financial services sector, which has undergone huge changes in the last decade. Initially in the payments space with the introduction of chip and rfid technology, the banking and wealth management industries have been the latest adopters of more modern systems, with the emergence of mobile quick-pay and quick-deposit, and robo-advisory and digital brokerage respectively. Banks too have seen a marked change in the volumes of branch teller transactions and ATM and online transactions as customers continue to use self-service mobile devices to carry out these actions. Data from Mintel reveals that while customers’ trust in their banks continues to be underpinned by the presence of physical branches, 63% of consumers opt to check their balances and transfer funds via online banking services, with a growing proportion using mobile banking to perform the same tasks – almost 20% regularly check their balances from their mobile phones.
A case study from Mintel that analyses the launch of Apple Pay by Visa in the UK and Saudi Arabia highlights the tech-savvy, time-hungry nature of modern youths and the steps taken by one of the world’s largest payments companies to accommodate this trend and maintain a relevant presence in front of an increasingly influential generation. Smartphones are undeniably a central part of the lives of young people and are the point from which they coordinate much of their day-to-day interaction and purchases; the added ease, speed and security that Visa and Apple Pay’s integration provides will drive mutual preference for both, as well as cater to the needs of younger consumers, which are likely to set a precedent for the future of banking and payments. In a similar move, Apple and Goldman Sachs are launching a joint credit card created especially for Apple’s Wallet app – another signal of the priority that technology firms are placing on the young as they continue to develop and expand their offerings.
Barclays reveals how the bank is looking to assist customers with the improvement and safeguarding of their spending habits through a dedicated “turn-off” function on their mobile banking app. With contactless technology now used by a significant proportion of consumers globally, the risk of card fraud is also increased. Barclays’ new security service allows customers to manage payments to five retail sectors, including restaurants, petrol and diesel, gambling and premium-rate websites, so that in the event of loss or theft of bank cards, vulnerable customers are placed at less risk through the ability to control spending from their cards.
At Ten, we too have been anticipating this same dynamic change with our customers, which has led to the successful development of a first of its kind digital concierge platform. We have invested over £20 million into this proprietary platform which allows clients to self-serve and perform a number of tasks for themselves, such as book a restaurant in a matter of seconds, as well as the ability to speak to our lifestyle managers over the phone or via email to meet their other travel and events-related needs. The platform is already live with many of our Asian clients, with clients in other geographies also expressing demand for the hybrid model.
We believe this innovation is in line with a wider trend that has been witnessed by Ten Lifestyle Group, that customers place a high level of trust in the brands they work with but by their inherently investigative nature are no longer solely driven by convenience alone when it comes to their behaviour and decision making. Being able to strike a balance between providing a dedicated client service, while also allowing the consumer to behave autonomously through the same channels, is now a core focus for Ten. This, too, will form the basis for our service optimisation as we seek to expand our global network while still offering the high level of personalisation, expertise and recommendations on which we pride ourselves.
Our view of the future is clear. Clients demand choice, exceptional service and exclusive member benefits, combined with the option of self-service and decision making that falls in line with these high-level expectations. Our model will continue to evolve as we look to reflect these needs, and in turn will consolidate our position at the forefront of client service as a quality lifestyle concierge.
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