Bridging the financial institution generation gap


Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published on

At one time, opening a bank account meant sitting down with a man in a suit, but the rise of Britain’s “challenger banks” means customers are now more likely to fill in an online form. Some are happy with that while others hanker after the former.

Small and nimble, and working to much tighter budgets, the challenger banks focus on customer service and lack the legacy of big, costly business models, paper-based filing systems and huge branch networks. Their appearance on the scene has been compared to the dramatic disruption Amazon and its peers have inflicted on the retail sector.

Catering to different needs

Not everyone agrees that banking can be done online or over the telephone alone. The older generation, and even the not-so-older one, still appreciates the convenience of popping into a local branch where friendly staff can deal with any request or query. The majority of respondents to a recent survey by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) felt that a national network of bricks and mortar branches was still essential for a banking provider, and that is something the challenger banks can never really aspire to.

Aside from that, Britons remain extremely loyal to their banks. Despite considerable efforts to make switching accounts easy, few ever do. The CMA survey found that only 3 percent of UK bank customers had changed provider in the last 12 months.

Therein, however, lies the problem for the legacy banks. In order to secure a greater share of a relatively static market, they need to add a steady supply of young customers. That means appealing to a generation that finds filling in a form on their tablet more convenient than phoning a call centre, and sees a one-on-one interview as something associated with applying for a job, not the slick customer experience offered by those competing for the pounds in their pockets.

A seamless customer journey

Without the legacy issues and costs, the advantage would appear to lie with the challengers, but established banks can keep up – and continue to appeal to their older customers at the same time – if they embrace the full advantages of the digital revolution.

Despite great endeavours to go digital, paper forms are still a key source of information to many of the major banks, but with the sheer volume of disparate information sources growing by the day, and fierce regulation over both finance and data biting at their heels, a move to secure digital management of all processes is inevitable.

Happily, it is also the key to unlock vast efficiencies and new commercial opportunities.

The first step is to seize full control of the information flowing in from all channels. Whether you generate them online, by telephone or on printed forms, you must harness these vast quantities of data to create a single, seamless customer journey. Your organisation must develop a client-centric strategy that recognizes the disparate needs of individual customers, while ensuring you manage information securely and cost-effectively.

Choice of channels

Social channels add further to the mix, offering individuals the ability to communicate openly about their experiences, often to the exclusion of the organization in question. It is in such environments that Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions come to the fore, by providing an agile middleware layer of renewed functionality and control. This helps increase user productivity through the elimination of application switching and the automation of costly manual tasks.

The digital era bank that aspires to appeal to all generations of customers must offer the same standard of service whatever channel a customer uses to contact it, and the customer must always be free to use whatever channel he or she prefers. Older generations are rapidly catching on to tablets and smartphones, and will choose to use those when they prove more convenient.

By ensuring that you quickly digitise all data onto a single, accessible yet secure platform, your bank can allow customers to start a process using one method of communication and end it with another, without any hint of inconvenience to the user – or loss of efficiency to the company.

You can capture data simply – auto-filled and indexed across the legacy systems, updated and linked to relevant documentation stored within the ECM solution – while providing management information and reporting dashboards, without the need to switch screens, re-key information or train staff on multiple systems.

In a seamlessly interoperable environment, this hub strategy allows your organisation to go beyond simple data retrieval, and provide a vastly improved customer journey.

Potential challenges

ECM provides organisations with a framework to define processes associated with creating, enriching, managing and delivering content to both internal and external stakeholders. However, there can be many challenges to successful implementation without the correct approach.

This includes lack of understanding about what can and can’t be delivered, considering the right technology, the impact on existing processes, staff momentum and long-term strategy. Organisations that inadequately assess their business needs, undertake poor internal discovery and process definition, combined with the selection of an inappropriate system, fail to obtain maximum advantage and ROI from their ECM system.

That’s why you need to do your homework and find the right vendor – one who can help you through those challenges.

Secure and adaptable

Efficiency, cost-savings, easy-to-configure integrations and fewer steps in a process are all potential benefits when considering the wider IT strategy. However, this value proposition could be lost when installing a new system that adds more work for every other system.

Therefore, it is crucial that your ECM system works with your existing line-of-business systems, and supports, rather than hinders, the customer-facing processes.

With both digital and consumer trends changing in the blink of an eye, a secure and adaptable digital hub also ensures your bank is able to adapt rapidly to future challenges as yet unknown. By using ECM, large banks are capable of evolving with the market, just as quickly as smaller challengers can.

Behind-the-scenes ECM systems will therefore play a key part in how legacy banks can make significant headway in the multi-media marketplace of today, and indeed that of the future – whatever different customer demographics decide that entails.

Working from Hyland's London office, Colin brings more than 30 years of corporate experience ranging from enterprise content management (ECM) to natural language processing (NLP) for clients ranging from the Lloyds Banking Group to BUPA. Over this period, he has seen many changes in system and solution approaches, some successful and some that should not have seen the light of day. As someone who can remember when legacy systems were mere young kids on the block, you can guarantee he will have a point of view.

Colin Dean

Working from Hyland’s London office, Colin brings more than 30 years of corporate experience ranging from enterprise content management (ECM) to natural language processing (NLP) for clients ranging from the... read more about: Colin Dean