Today was the first day of Forrester’s Finance Forum 2008 (titled “How To Deliver Great Customer Experiences”) which is focused on Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD). After giving the keynote speech at this event for the past several years, I decided to take this year off (even though the topic is EBD). While my crazy schedule is keeping me from attending the event, I’m sure that Bill Doyle and Harley Manning will be awesome hosts and it will be a dynamite event, as always!
Since I’m not attending this year’s Finance Forum, I decided to take a look back at my speeches from the previous 2 years. I believe that the content is still extremely relevant…
Forrester’s 2007 Finance Forum
In last year’s Finance Forum 2007, my speech was called “Turning Customer Experience Into A Competitive Weapon.” The theme of that speech was “Customer experience is a production’” Just like with the movies, creating successful experience takes a lot of dedication from and coordination between the people on stage (front line employees) and those behind the scenes (everyone else).
The largest portion of the speech was dedicated to the three principles of Experience-Based Differentiation:
- Obsess about customer needs, not product features.
- Reinforce the brand with every interaction, not just communications.
- Treat customer experience as a competence, not a function.
I also highlighted data from a survey that we did with the American Banker which led to a piece of research called Banks Prepare For Customer Experience Wars. The survey showed that bank executives believe that customer experience is very important, but they don’t think they’re doing a particularly good job delivering it.
Forrester’s 2006 Finance Forum
In Finance Forum 2006, my speech was called “New Realities Require New Skills.” The theme of that speech was the “Financial Service firms need to become more responsive.” I started the speech by describing how the financial services industry would be compelled to change based on the confluence of three trends:
- Changing consumer needs (shifts like the growing number of retirees and the rise of online usage creates the opportunity/need for change)
- Increased competition (the push for organic growth by most financial institutions and the rise of international competition raises the urgency for change)
- New capabilities (the availability of enabling technologies like SOA, business process management, and analytics enable the platforms for change).
The core of my presentation focused on 5 new skills that financial institutions needed to master in this changing environment (which came from my research report called “The Financial Services Survival Guide“):
- Skill No. 1: Customer-centric DNA. Every company can meet customer needs some of the time. But to consistently deliver great experiences, firms need a deep-seated, companywide focus on customers.
- Skill No. 2: Solution management. Today, firms develop new offerings for customers by tweaking the features of specific products. But these product-centric efforts miss the opportunity to meet the financial needs of customers who cross the boundaries of a single product.
- Skill No. 3: Cross-channel process agility. While customers regularly cross over channels, many firms design their retail delivery models one channel at a time. To meet the needs of consumers, firms need to provide a seamless experience across channels.
- Skill No. 4: Integrated merchandising. In many financial institutions, marketing efforts are heavily focused on new customer acquisition. But rather than throwing products at customers, firms need to develop an integrated merchandising strategy that puts the right offering in front of the right customer, at the right time.
- Skill No. 5: Interactive education. Rather than crafting marketing communications to push consumers through buying cycles, firms need to provide interactive education – information and tools that help consumers make good financial decisions.
The bottom line: Customer Experience is as important as ever for financial institutions.