How do you engage the customer when the customer is the bank itself?

Workforce optimisation tech provider Verint has undertaken a fascinating initiative to document and improve the way it engages its customers across all of the industries it serves, including financial services. This initiative, which they call the Customer Experience Journey, although created with the humble goal of improving client relationships, has far-reaching implications for the highly-regulated financial services industry, where vendor partners have become more and more strategically important to the institution, and where IT providers have come under increased scrutiny in the context of 3rd party risk.

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Workforce optimisation tech provider Verint has undertaken a fascinating initiative to document and improve the way it engages its customers across all of the industries it serves, including financial services. This initiative, which they call the Customer Experience Journey, although created with the humble goal of improving client relationships, has far-reaching implications for the highly-regulated financial services industry, where vendor partners have become more and more strategically important to the institution, and where IT providers have come under increased scrutiny in the context of 3rd party risk.

Being in the financial services industry as long as I have, I rarely come across something I find truly innovative.  But then, I set a high bar for what I consider groundbreaking.  For instance, at a session with bankers about branch transformation, one attendee offered their institution’s experiments with the cash-less branch.  

Does anyone remember the Wamu Occasio branches?  Occasio branches were cashless in the sense that any transactions done at the pods, and that required cash back to the customer, generated receipt slips that the customer had to redeem at the in-branch ATM for cash.  Been there, done that - nothing fundamentally new about cash-less branches.
 

However, at the same event, I came across something that I think has significant implications for financial services institutions, and other industries as well.  At the Verint Engage 2015 conference, I was led through what Verint calls “the Customer Experience Journey.”  

I know what you’re thinking, everyone is talking about customer centricity and the need for improved customer engagement.  But the difference here is that this is a documented journey that spells out how Verint does business with its own customers.  B to B, not B to C.

This work was undertaken by Verint to document and improve the processes it uses to market, sell, implement, and support the products and services it sells to the industries it serves, including, but not limited to, financial services.  Every type of interaction between the IT supplier and the institution is documented.  By mapping out the interactions that typically take place between Verint and its client institutions, the company is working to identify pain points, triage challenges to repair, and improve the way it does business with its own customers.  

Verint’s customers have access to this documented journey, and are invited to contribute to the journey map by providing feedback about where things are going well and  where the pain points lie in their ability to create and maintain a good relationship with their technology provider.

I’ve not seen this level of transparency and level of documentation surrounding the way it does business with its own customers from any other 3rd party technology partner.

While my host was describing the benefits of looking at the whole journey undertaken by the institution when working with Verint, and how the journey map makes it easier to locate areas for improvement. My mind went quickly to the challenges I’ve discussed with CIOs around 3rd party partnerships, the consolidation of vendors (and the byproduct of increased complexity of products and services sourced from the chosen partners), the increasing strategic importance of their remaining partners, and the increasing scrutiny and regulatory guidance for 3rd party risk.

If I were the CIO, or the governance body responsible for managing my 3rd party relationships, and if I saw this kind of documented mapping from one of my technology partners, I would immediately demand the same mapping from every other supplier of my IT needs.  

Aside from helping my organization work operationally with my partner, it is an invaluable tool in my effort to govern 3rd party relationships, support the overall operational risk management goals at the institution, and goes a long way to support compliance to current and future 3rd party risk guidelines.

Usually when we talk about innovation, the conversation centers around the front office, where the consumer interacts with the bank.  In this case, I was surprised and impressed by a technology company that turned that same customer-centric mantra inwards, and uses it to help its business customers, like banks, improve the way they do business with their strategic partner.  

I hope every significant IT vendor starts moving to this kind of model soon, because ultimately I think they'll be forced to do so.
Posted by Jerry Silva, Research Director, Global Retail Banking, IDC Financial Insights

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