Trust You Can’t Bank On

The fallout from the recent banking scandals still dominates the media. The latest controversies continue to haunt an industry still recovering its standing after Government bailouts and continuing accusations of bankers’ hubris and greed.

Even as bank executives queue up to forego bonuses to start salvaging their organisation’s reputations it’s clear that Britain’s banks and the wider financial industry are in danger of losing the most important asset of all – customer trust.

Banks have long been the foundation of an ‘untouchable’ financial services industry. Scandals or mismanagement aside, a potentially more serious factor is the apparent alienation of the customer. A high street bank’s IT meltdown that caused delays and disruption for thousands of companies and consumers alike, suggests that the foundations of a usually reliable technical infrastructure are not always as stable as they seem.

It was one thing for a system glitch to inconvenience small firms which couldn’t process payroll or individuals that couldn’t draw cash. It was quite another for the bank to be unable to estimate when service would be restored.

It is no secret that most large organisations outsource operations. On the whole they do this very successfully – apart from such freak events. No matter what the industry or the organisation in question, taking one’s eye off customers’ basic needs will eventually damage your brand. Customers’ goodwill is the focus of any organisation. Taking it for granted is a dangerous game.

With customer trust and an organisations transparency increasingly at stake, businesses will find that taking matters back to customer service basics will become a vital way to help rebuild these fragile customer relationships.

No-one doubts that banks have to work on many fronts to restore customers’ goodwill. A small but vital part of this is harnessing streamlined business processes and enhancing customer service capabilities that lets staff efficiently get to work.

Banks have a strong track record in investing in and deploying new technologies to meet this goal. Despite the battering the financial service industry’s reputation has taken and an uncertain economy, banks are still uniquely placed to innovate and update customer service and support economic revival.

Take the example of cloud computing and flexible working. Increased cloud deployment provides the scalability that organisations require to deal with service issues or glitches. This means a firms’ contact centre staff can be ‘plugged in’ to handle a growing workload or staff can work flexibly as required. The latest unified communications (UC) platform takes all the different communications including email, telephone calls and SMS and puts them in one place for staff to act upon.

The ongoing events in the financial industry have demonstrated one important factor for all organisations. No matter how large or powerful an organisation, it can never survive without its customers. With trust and transparency at an all-time low, consumers are actively looking to switch away from the big four banks. In an increasingly competitive market and with few able to predict which way the economy will turn, a loyal customer base is one of the only assets in the economy still increasing in value.

Rob Keenan leads the Siemens Enterprise Communications' UK portfolio management team, which is responsible for Unified Communications and Contact Centre solutions. He has worked in enterprise communications for the past 6 years and has a background in manufacturing, IT and product development. His focus on the development of Unified Communications and Collaboration market and customer development and on cloud and mobility solutions.