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Steve Walters, national sales director, Ricoh UK

Long gone are the days where transferring money, paying bills and setting up direct debits meant paying a visit to the local bank. Banking institutions are now looking for new ways to improve their customer experience, focusing on the use of the most up-to-date and innovative online tools to enhance the customer experience.

Many retail banks across the UK have already made significant inroads to improve their digital customer experience with tools such as online banking, multi-function smartphones and tablets. However, across the board there is still a reliance on slow archaic paper forms and old legacy systems which restrict staff to solely working within their physical branches.

The question is: how can banks harness data to transform the retail banking ecosystem?

The age of disruptive banking

We live in a world where everyone and everything is connected 24/7- customers can make a public complaint via the use social media within minutes. It is therefore essential to make sure customers are kept happy at all times to avoid reputational damage.

In recent years, new banks have emerged purporting to offer new accounts, better saving options and a more personal customer service, however, this in itself, is not enough. The marketing and targeting of customers’ needs has to be prioritised.

Traditionally, banks printed promotional material at large but now by analysing their own Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, banks can learn how people access information and can subsequently tailor their marketing towards this.

The rise of innovative new apps and interactive displays in bank branches is enhancing the customer banking experience, making accessing crucial account information easier than ever before. A ‘digital first’ approach can help to quickly and easily find information and increase the institution’s visibility and credibility as a business.

Banking in the interconnected world

In today’s interconnected world, harnessing technology ensures a more ‘joined up’ approach between branches. This approach can deliver significant improvements to customers, ensuring the right knowledge is gathered to handle all sorts of enquires, and to provide first class advice at all times- whichever branch one is based at.

Not only do these features enhance the customer experience but they also help banks reduce overheads as they are not forced into investing in training to develop highly-skilled advisors based in each and every branch across the country.

Equally, it’s not just branches that should be connected. Banking staff can have a part to play here too. Technology like unified communications (UC) can help enable expert staff to connect with customers whenever it’s convenient for them – whether at home or on the go, by phone, email or video conference.

Implementing personalised products and services

Banks already have a wealth of data available about their customers- from where they live to where they work and even if they have children or pets. By using this data, banks can build an accurate profile of their customers’ lifestyle and promote additional products and services to them. For example, if a customer is regularly booking holidays at a particular time of the year, the bank can be one step ahead of its rivals and offer them a currency or travel insurance in the run-up.

This helps support and promote your additional service offerings, create closer relationships with customers and improve revenues across increasingly diverse lines of business.

A matter of security

Finally, not only is paper harmful to the environment, costly to the institution and outdated to the customer, but it is also typically not secure. Many paper forms are filed or couriered around the country, but also, more often than desired, thrown away into bin bags having not been shredded or disposed of properly. This could leave your customers’ personal information at a significant risk.

By securely storing data through digital channels, banks will not only save on printing costs, but will also protect valuable customer data, which can help promote and sell additional services.

To conclude, the interconnected world offers the opportunity for banks to improve reputations and give the customer a greater sense of control. It’s time to fully transform the retail banking ecosystem with technology. We hope to see more banks take the necessary steps to enhance the customer experience in 2016.

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