BankAtos Origin expertise and the EFMA (European Financial Management & Marketing Association), recently released the results of European research regarding the use of CRM in banks.

The survey found that the Customer Relationship Management rules applied by banks “before the financial crisis” are no longer valid and that the “post-financial crisis” global CRM approach is still rarely explored. The keyword to remember: customer-centricity.

The research is based on a survey of 75 European financial institutions and the resulting report provides interesting insights for banks to help them refocus their CRM strategy in order to reassure customers and bring back profit in these uncertain times.

The current economic context and financial crisis has most probably led many financial services institutions to refocus their CRM strategies with the customer relationship being more than ever the key to profitability of a retail activity.

These institutions have to design a new approach to regain and reassure customers. Even if they have only started building a “how to win back trust” strategy, there is a general movement towards “refocusing on the customer” for the “post-financial” crisis phase.

The report sums up the essential CRM goals for financial institutions

“A win back trust” strategy

Financial institutions have to rethink their CRM approach and reposition the customer at the heart of their global strategy in order to win back customers. An optimum balance between financial investments and the satisfying customers’ needs will generate the maximum profit. In this context, going back to finance basics seems inevitable, but not without following a “customer-centric” approach leading to a more meaningful relationship with the clients.

Spreading the “think customer” strategy throughout the whole company

There is a continuous effort from financial companies in spreading the “think customer” strategy throughout the whole company. In order to strengthen this effort, companies should provide proper change management strategies for the progressive improvement of employees’ skills and buy-in. In fact, the difficulty is not whether the tool is easy to use or not, but to change the way to sell as well as the perception of customer himself.

Furthermore, CRM is a significant part of the strategy, but not the only one. Therefore, CRM projects have often to be included in wider projects. Ultimately, it may require a change in corporate culture for many financial institutions. The most successful banks and insurances companies are likely to be those where CRM is well integrated and is at the heart of the company’s processes and activities.

Transforming information into action

There is an increasing demand for real-time customer information on online channels. To satisfy this need, companies seek for more and more sophisticated customer intelligence tools, developing targeted individual approaches. This “customer intelligence” approach requires in-depth work on the quality of information while enriching it. The “intelligence” about the customer must be captured in the process itself, so the same knowledge base could be used by everybody, everywhere, anytime. This is why future investments are mainly concentrated on “real-time” solutions and mobile channels helping to be more pro-active.

Fine-tuning sales channels

Unsurprisingly, the research reveals that no channel is dedicated to a specific segment. Traditional channels are still widely used, but electronic channels are now rapidly becoming more and more important. Financial Institutions mainly focus on strategic development of direct channels, their need for short term results leading them to seek means to reduce costs. But if they want to bring back trust and profit together, they will have to consider repositioning and fine-tuning their sales channels in order to increase their sales efficiency.

Source: press release Atos Origin

Original posted on i-SCOOP’s Marketing Advisor blog and moved as part of an integration – date: December 2009.

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