Making a difference in financial services

Making a difference in financial services
Microsoft and its partners are optimising customer engagement and building brand loyalty

Elly Yates-Roberts |

When Banque Populaire (BCP) in Morocco wanted to cultivate customer loyalty and grow its client base, it needed to improve the experience it delivered to customers and employees alike. This wasn’t just a question of finding the right technology – Microsoft Dynamics CRM – to enable a more integrated approach with a 360-degree view of each customer. To make its strategy truly transformative, it was vital to make sure employees were onboard with the changes. Microsoft introduced the bank to an adoption and change management expert who worked alongside the BCP transformation team to ensure success, accelerating adoption of the new solution by its eventual 5,000 users.

BCP is not alone in understanding that in the digital age, competitive business is not simply about the products it offers. It’s about breaking down silos and bringing people and technology together to create a seamless, intelligent and personalised experience. “Banks are eager to evolve, using intelligent, secure and compliant technology to innovate and grow in exciting new ways to deliver differentiated customer experiences,” says Bill Borden, corporate vice president of Worldwide Financial Services at Microsoft, in an industry blog. “It starts by knowing your customers, then developing solutions that meet their needs. Banks can accelerate growth and loyalty through deeper customer insights and stronger relationships.” 

An intensified urgency surrounds the need for personalised customer engagement in the wake of Covid-19. According to McKinsey & Company, the banking customer experience plays an essential role in limiting the impact of any downturn caused by the pandemic. “In normal times, customer experience in banking is about making customers happy – with the result that they are more loyal, use products more, and cost less to serve,” it says in its report, Remaking banking customer experience in response to coronavirus. “In the context of Covid-19, superior customer experience means clarity and transparency, support for digital tools with which many customers are still unfamiliar, and new products and services for customers in distress.”

This is a time for reimagining financial services and finding new ways to work remotely, Borden predicted during a Microsoft Industry Digital Forum webinar. And as financial firms rise to the challenges, many are finding that they already have the tools they need.

Microsoft Teams, for example, has played a major part in empowering employees at Canadian insurer Manulife to find new ways of connecting with colleagues, agents and customers so they can deliver a great experience. “The pandemic really forced us to think differently about methods that may have been available and may actually be better ways of getting things done,” said Shamus Weiland, chief information officer of Manulife during the digital forum. “It’s been a rapid perspective shift and I don’t think we’re going to go back to some of the former methods, based on what we’ve been learning.”

With customers’ and colleagues’ expectations set by their favourite technologies, Weiland says it was important to offer the same experience in the workplace. Confidence that Microsoft will continuously improve and integrate the technology to meet emerging needs has thrown new light on some solutions, making them key enablers for the future. “There are some fine examples of people and teams that are serving our customers using capabilities that may have been on the shelf,” says Weiland, highlighting video collaboration integrated with scheduling and productivity tools as an example. “Those tools may have been seen as a spot solution for convenience, but when integrated in the way I’m describing with continuous improvement, they can actually remove friction and create a better everyday experience.”

Using customers’ favourite technologies is also a cornerstone of French insurance company AXA’s ‘from payer to partner’ strategy. By harnessing the same technologies that its customers use to create a modern workplace built on Microsoft 365, the company is enabling itself to stay ahead of industry trends and offer more value-added services.

Meanwhile in South Africa, Nedbank used the Microsoft Bot Framework to develop its Electronic Virtual Assistance (EVA) call centre solution, which handles 80 per cent of the enquiries it’s programmed for at just 10 per cent of the cost of live agents. In doing so, it frees up live agents to manage trickier calls where a human customer service operative can deliver real value. Nedbank is making EVA accessible through its messaging apps so it can meet clients through the channels they already use. It also plans to extend the solution’s capabilities to help clients with transactions, and to support live agents by helping them quickly obtain marketing content and other information for clients. Beyond that, the sky is the limit: departments across the bank have been asking how they can leverage the Microsoft Bot Framework for insurance, vehicle financing, and business and retail banking.

Microsoft and its partners are focused on helping financial firms leverage the latest technologies to bring those experiences alive, with the agility that enables rapid responses to individual customer needs. “We do this by providing a trusted, highly secure and compliant platform that is embedded with pervasive intelligence,” says Borden. “Supported by a global partner ecosystem, we offer industry-leading solutions for changing customer expectations, modernising their banking, meeting complex regulations, dealing with new competitors, combating cyber threats, and enabling a more productive workforce.”

With these capabilities as a foundation, financial firms can create insightful, personalised and proactive experiences that position them as a trusted partner, whatever challenges and opportunities their customers face.

Partner perspectives
We asked a leading Microsoft partner about how it is financial services firms to create experiences that help build and enrich their relationships with customers.  Below is an extract from its responses, which you can read in full from page 102 of the digital edition of the Summer 2020 issue of The Record.

Wim Geukens, managing director of VeriPark Europesays: "VeriPark's digital lending solution enables banks to support corporate and SME clients when they need it most."

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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