A revolution in customer relationship needed

  • FSIs, telcos and utilities lagging in proactive customer relationship building due to legacy technology
  • Software-driven automation, customization and tracking key factors to addressing these issues

THE financial services, telecommunications and utilities industries are facing new challenges and threats in their customer relationship management (CRM) models, as their customer bases become more informed and demand better levels of service, says an industry player.
 
Mark Camilleri, director of sales, for financial decision analytics software player Fico, said the holy grail of CRM – which is to have a 360-degree, all-round view of customers – has still not been met yet as banks, telcos and utilities companies struggle to provide proactive services to their customers.
 
“Normally, technology enablement has a poor return on investment,” Camilleri said at a recent media briefing. “And the holy mantra for CRM software – with the likes of Siebel and Onyx – is still there but has failed to deliver.”
 
A revolution in customer relationship neededAccording to Camilleri (pic), there are principally two reasons for this. The first, he said, had to do with how customers are much more informed and demanding today than before, while the second had to do with the way banks, and to a lesser extent, telcos and utilities, are currently structured.
 
He said today’s Generation X and Y are "completely impatient" and can’t wait to act on historical data, but they instead demand real-time data.
 
“Everybody wants to have multiple choice for communications, whether it is mobile, web or others,” he said. “On top of that, they not only want a multi-channel choice, but they want it to be relevant to them as individuals.”
 
This leads to the second challenge, Camilleri said. “Most of the communications in banks today, for example, are siloed in nature. While most of them engage outsourced call centers, and have technologies such as SMS dialers, IVR (interactive voice response), message blast and call fronting, very few of these systems talk to each other.
 
“The problem is exacerbated as different departments end up sending different messages through different communication channels, as all these communication channels are in silos. This frustrates customers as banks are not putting relevance to the data they have.”
 
“For example, a person could be in a high risk category going from bank to bank to shop for loans, but yet you still find banks trying to offer him a new credit card. This is the disconnect, which happens when data about this person is not correlated properly and there isn’t a single view of the customer’s credit history.”
 
Legacy hurdles
 
Asked why banks, in particular, suffer from this challenge, Camilleri said this was mainly due to legacy as banks developed separate systems at different times in the past to meet different needs. He added that many banks’ back-office systems have grown due to business growth and as this happens, separate systems evolve and end up not talking to each other.
 
He said the good news is that the banks are beginning to recognize that they need to solve this problem and that despite having little or no capital expenditure to address this, they are looking to solution providers, such as Fico, to do so.
 
Additionally, banks, telcos and utilities also lack quality IT resources to address these challenges, he claimed.
 
“Even if top business executives in these industries want to make changes to their systems, a simple change may take IT too long – up to one year – to make the changes,” he said. “They have [already] too many projects on their plate and they don’t have the resources to take care of it.
 
“Coupled with this is the fulltime pressure from share prices and the need to deliver more revenue from the same amount of people, or with fewer people."
 
To address these challenges effectively, Camilleri said banks, telcos and utilities need a solution that not only correlates all the customer data they have but also one that is able to automatically reach out to the customers with customized messaging, in multiple languages, and in tailored scripts.
 
“For example, if you’ve sent an SMS to remind a customer to pay his bill, you’ll need a system to know whether he has read it or not. If not, the system will send out an email, and if there is no response, an automated voice message is sent to him, perhaps using the voice of the CEO of the bank, or even a celebrity – all this with no human intervention.”
 
“And if a credit card is being used suspiciously, there should be another way to address the situation rather than just blocking the card because doing so will frustrate the user from re-using the card.
 
“Rather than blocking the card, the system could reach out to the customer via SMS or a mobile app, asking him whether he wants the transaction cancelled or not. By doing so, you’re not only making it a pleasant experience for the customer but reducing the chance that they will spend less on your card for fear of fraud.”
 
Camilleri said that Fico's latest solution, called FICO Adeptra SaaS (software as a service) platform, integrates these functionalities into existing Fico decision management applications. Britain-based Adeptra has been in operation in the last 13 years and was recently acquired by Fico in a bid to enhance its decision making offering that is cloud-enabled by Adeptra technology.
 
Telcos, utilities in play
 
A revolution in customer relationship neededAccording to Dinesh Pereira (pic), country manager of Fico Malaysia, most banks the comoany has been speaking to in Malaysia like the concept of what Fico has to offer [in the form of Fico Adeptra SaaS, but acknowledged that such services would need to be approved by Bank Negara Malaysia, the central banking authority for the country.
 
Asked when these banks would introduce such services, Dinesh said each bank would have to apply for approvals and make its own announcement in its own time.
 
Camilleri added however that telcos and utilities are not governed by the same authorities and hopefully, Fico will be able to announce something soon.
 
“We currently do not have any telco or utilities using our services in Malaysia or Asia so this is definitely a growth area for us,” he said, adding that its biggest reference for telcos is in Australia, where incumbent Telstra uses Fico Adeptra.

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