October 01, 2012

Customer-centricity in a multi-channel environment and using data and analytics to know your customer better were among the major topics discussed during the first day of Bank Systems & Technology's seventh annual Executive Summit.

Throughout the various sessions, the importance of customer-centricity was a recurring theme from the speakers. Andy Hernandez, EVP, channels for BBVA Compass discussed the bank's soon-to-launch online banking platform and how it was redesigned to be more customer focused and friendly.

"Understanding how customers manage their financial lives is the first step in determining which functionality will create value for them," Hernandez said.

For example, he said the bank learned that several functions of its old online banking platform, such as money movement and payments, could be more easily presented to customers and have better usability. "We wanted to give our customers very sophisticated tools that require little heavy lifting," he said.

Hernandez added that BBVA's general philosophy when it comes to its interactions with customers is to "provide Southern hospitality at internet speed."

Along those lines, David Schiff, a Director with PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Financial Services Advisory practice, said much of the problem stems from the fact that as banks have added channels over the years, "we lost sight that the center of that is the customer."

Schiff said it's important for any business to have personal relationships with its customers, or as he put it, "dominating in a post-channel world means returning to pre-channel values."

Jennifer Atkins, senior vice president and head of digital sales and marketing for Wells Fargo’s digital channels group, said as more customers interact with banks via digital or remote channels, it is imperative for banks to identify sales opportunities in those channels and share them across other lines of business.

Banks also need to remember to make things simple for their customers, added Bob Pucinelli, director of global financial services, information intelligence group, for EMC Corporation. Customers expect easy-to-use, self-service tools and when they contact their bank they only want to have to give out their information once, no matter how many different channels they interact with.