What is the point of letting customers contact you by chat in the evening, if it still takes up to 72 hours for a new beneficiary account to be authorised? While digitalising customer relationships, invest in transforming your organisation and modernising the way you handle all day-to-day operations

Lionel Lavigne, Head of Banks & Assurances Sector at Gfi Informatique, begins by reminding us that the banking sector has been confronted with two successive revolutions.

The first is customer expectations, which have increased significantly in recent years, due to the "good habits" they have acquired elsewhere, with Amazon, Spotify, Netflix... and with almost all Pure Players, who focus on the customer interface and the quality of service provided. Through one-click ordering, relevant recommendations and express delivery, web newcomers have created new standards in the everyday life of the user.

“We speak of customer demands, more so than expectations or new uses”, says  Lionel Lavigne. “In the private sphere, the user now has very different new habits: obtaining an immediate and personalised answer, having choices, being able to modify their request, etc. And because of a rapid contagion effect, they do not understand why their bank does not provide the same level of service. Customers today demand autonomy, quick and easy contact with their banker, almost total availability... and they are impatient. Those who are now used to finding information online and sharing their experiences with their peers, on forums and social networks, need reassurance as well as relevant and differentiating advice.

The second revolution concerns changes in the competitive environment. Firstly, there is the rapid and undeniable growth of FinTechs. Driven by advances in artificial intelligence and Big Data, which are true catalysts, they have seized all the regulatory opportunities, such as the DSP2 that opens the way for aggregators. “While a traditional bank is already competing, indirectly, with Amazon and its perfect UX, it must also contend with the arrival of the newcomers in finance, who are hunting on their territory.

And these FinTechs are becoming credible: “They concentrate on a particular service, without claiming to have a comprehensive range and they are effective in what they do offer: participatory financing, for example, or the transfer of money between individuals. As a result, they are beginning to encroach on activities formerly reserved for traditional banks. They appeal to customers of all ages, not just the famous Y-ers.

But the FinTechs aren't the only ones moving the market. We have also seen the appearance of “banks that are not banks” that proudly describe themselves as such: the Nickel account (bought this year by BNP Paribas) has progressed strongly by intelligently using the network of newsagents. Carrefour has launched C-Zam, the current account that is bought off the shelf; car manufacturers (PSA, Renault) have joined the race; and, after several postponements, the launch of Orange Bank is announced for 2nd November.

New customer expectations, new technologies that have a direct impact on business, and greater competition... It is not an exaggeration to say that, at a time of digital technology, banking is having its foundations challenged”, continues Lionel Lavigne. “Yet traditional banks are still putting too much effort into the front office, to the detriment of the back office. In practical terms, many more initiatives are underway in the digitalisation of contact with the customer, but behind this, internal processes do not always follow the same rate of transformation. What is the point of letting customers contact you by chat in the evening, if it still takes up to 72 hours for a new beneficiary account to be authorised? For them. It is disappointing, and probably even counterproductive. This also applies to online credit applications. If the client can apply in 10 minutes, but then waits several days or weeks to receive a response, it is a failure. Before launching a new mobile site or application, think about your organisation and modernise the way you handle all day-to-day operations.

One last piece of advice: “Thanks to the acquisition of stakes in FinTech's, observe how they work and take direct inspiration from them," suggests Lionel Lavigne. Enrich your work methods through contact with these models that are different from your own.”

By Lionel Lavigne, Head of Banks & Assurances Sector at Gfi Informatique

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