Guest blog: Innovative service with a transforming mindset

Guest blog by BSA Associate, Paragon CC

In today’s fast moving, competitive financial landscape, only the most innovative service companies can hope to succeed. Building societies, therefore, remain steadfast in their focus on investing in the foundations of their digital infrastructure and improving the customer experience. Paragon Customer Communications explores the latest market trends, and asks how are societies ensuring they can serve all their members?

As customer loyalties become more instable and non-traditional digitally-driven competitors enter the industry, the market has experienced somewhat of a resurgence of ‘traditional’ building societies embracing future proof solutions as they vie for the attention of customers.

Once seen as the ‘land that digital forgot’, many businesses in the mortgage and savings market are reviewing their strategy and moving away from legacy processes and technologies and laying the foundations for digital transformation as they compete with pure digital organisations.

The sector has seen several examples of innovative ideas for customer service delivery being implemented in recent times. From Yorkshire Building Societies’ (YBS) much vaunted digital transformation[1] which embraces initiative from automation to agile methodology with the customer in mind, to Nationwide’s plans to open a new digital innovation centre in London[2], and The Nottingham Building Society’s multi-million pound investment in digital technology.

While key players in the market may be leading the way, for many building societies, confronted with a wide a wide assortment of members whose age ranges can span decades – from the 18 to 24-year-olds that represent the industry’s future membership base, to the long-standing members in the 50 plus age groups – understanding the strategies to future proof your business can seem a significant challenge.

Driving digital transformation

The growing array of available technologies – including most recently, platforms such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud technology and machine learning – mean that organisations are certainly well equipped for full digital transformation. However, such technologies do not create a digital organisation by themselves.

Indeed, understanding how to future proof your business, necessitates gaining a comprehensive understanding all areas of your organisation, their requirements, and, perhaps most crucially, fundamentally adapting how you operate and deliver value to customers. Central to this is investing in the core digital technologies, skills and capabilities, which will have the greatest influence on the operational efficiency and performance of all business areas.

Understanding customer journey, experience and behaviour should remain the central pillar of any transformation, and must be carefully contemplated before investing in technology or business processes.

It is crucial that any adaptations to business processes, microenvironments, or digital innovations, reflect market changes and react to evolving customer demands – as opposed to customers having to adapt to new processes. Such forward thinking is then more likely to reflect back to new customers and the digitally native younger generations in a positive manner.

In order to deliver innovative customer service, for instance, having the right talent in your workforce with the digital proficiency to drive digital transformation, can be equally as important as the technology itself. While employees need the tools to succeed, they must also be empowered to make decisions, solve problems and be the driving force behind an organisation’s present and future efforts.

A helping hand

Although the route to future proofing your digital infrastructure is clearly complex, one thing is clear, full digital transformation will not come without taking some risks and venturing into unfamiliar areas.

It is for this reason that working with a trusted partner can provide building societies with both the end-to-end digital solutions and the expertise required to provide a digital transformation that members want.