So, You Really Think You’re Customer Focused?

Time for new institutional myths.

Customers’ dim view of retail financial firms persist despite the plethora of “customer-centric” initiatives undertaken across the industry in recent years. Many institutions have failed to move beyond a superficial focus on customers and tackle the underlying reasons they are viewed by not being on the customers’ side.

To do so, we believe Retail FS institutions must address three (often implicit) “institutional myths” that pervade the industry and pollute even the most well intentioned customer-oriented initiatives:

1. Banking is boring. The purpose of “customer experience management” is to minimize the tedium of what is ultimately a “utility” service

2. Financial products and services are generic and fit-for-purpose. The goal of “customer insight” is to help marketers to bundle, cross-sell or upsell more of the products they already offer

3. Financial Services’ customers are typically lazy, ill-disciplined or ignorant when it comes to managing their financial affairs. The purpose of “customer value management” is to understand how to exploit these facts to extract value from customers in ways that they will tolerate or not notice.

The threat for not doing so is the potential for meta-banks (e.g., to intermediate customers’ banking relationships. The opportunity for Retail FS institutions is to build an “authentic customer orientation”. We believe this involves banks shifting from viewing themselves primarily as a provider of “balance sheet access” to a provider of “financial health”.

So, You Really Think You’re Customer Focused?