New challenges through digital transformation: Customer orientation

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The virtual world created certain new customs. Decision-making is heavily influenced by the digitalization and this is, of course, also true for bank marketing. Customers inform themselves online, exchange opinions in the social networks and post online ratings. What used to be personal correspondence is now anonymous convenience in the world wide web. This online society calls for a new understanding of marketing and the way of dealing with the customer.

Paradigm Shift

A new mentality, which is oriented at marketing, can become an essential component of success for the whole company. Brand, product and relationships are the central dimensions in this scenario, as they are subject to constant change. Competitive Retail Banking can only be realized with marketing, sales and IT being entirely intertwined – which requires a new a perspective on the customer. Consumers are not mere buyers of products and services that were developed for them. The ongoing and increasing viral dialogue about features and benefits of products and services adds a new quality to the knowledgeability of the customer and his judgements. Customers are critical, they share their experiences (Share Economy) and penalize mistakes of providers that offend them with shitstorms. Therefore, it is advisable also for banks to involve their whole organizational processes in the digital transformation and to take their staff with them in the process. The change from Old Economy to the digital future is not a privilege of leading executives. Digital processes have long become part of our lives and concern all employees. Change Management thus becomes a steady state that only ends when every single employee understands that the wind of change blows from the viral space and carries a whole lot of surprises with it. It should be in the interest of the bank to inform their staff about what is generally possible in the digital world, and what of this makes sense strategically for the company. Why be afraid to organize a conference as a digital information event, a start signal for a paradigm shift and as a forum for discussion to reduce prejudice and resistance? It might enable the executives to promote actions that are necessary in the process and to achieve willingness of the employees to actively shape the future. It is always advisable to make use of the diversity of ideas by the staff in the course of a company-internal crowdsourcing. Proposing ideas and suggestions for the improvement of products and services empowers motivation and team spirit. Another possibility to achieve a change of attitude in the company is developing a new guiding principle for the organization. It is important to questions established values like reliability, market leadership, or service orientation and – using teamwork – adapt it to a more digitally-matched ways of acting and thinking. To successfully implement a new guiding principle, it is indispensable to inspire and involve the employees. Social networks and digital marketing offer many possibilities and show that the bank is serious about renovating their attitude. Another plus is that the management is able to implement non-hierarchical workflows, scrum-teams or disruptive techniques in the course of these projects and thereby gathers experience in the fields that most probably pose the future's standards.

Big Data and Cross Selling

John Naisbitt once said: “We are drowning in information, but starved for knowledge”. This is also true for bank marketing. Data needs to be sifted, analyzed, sorted for relevance, assessed and updated – all of this in keeping with privacy. Many marketing executives view this to be the core competence of marketing. But by doing so, marketers would challenge their own field. Banks should make use of the information provided by customers who open a bank account. It depends on the marketers' individual skills to make use of these data for marketing purposes in a way that enables them to generate value for the customer. A holistic analysis of all transactions the customer will possibly make is essential for a stable business expansion and customer retention. The best case scenario are customers who rely on their bank for their whole life. Banks could make even more use of this kind of loyalty. Additionally to this there is great cross-selling potential. Especially with families, combined offers, discounts, demand analysis and regular lifecycle-management can increase sales and customer satisfaction. Often the offers of a bank are restricted to their own product line. Most customers on the other hand are many steps ahead in this respect: on the internet, they experience the prevalence of financial products. The biggest competitor is no longer the player with the biggest market share, but the world wide web with its inherent transparency and immediate topicality. Thus, it is clear that the internet is viewed more as a curse than as a blessing by most customer consultants in bank branches. But they are still needed by many customers: demographic trends will most likely cause more old citizens to seek contact with consultants for their banking needs, because they generally reject online banking. This degree of customer loyalty can never be achieved via the internet – let alone with robots serving customers, like the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is currently testing with their NOA. Banks can recognize the needs and expectations of their customers well enough to use these insights to develop innovative products and strategies for approaching tomorrow's customers.

##Total Touchpoint Management

Digital transformation is not achieved easily. To effectively combine online and offline measures, a consistent Total Touchpoint Management is necessary. People will be “always on” in the future, activities in the fields of social and content marketing will increase further. This development goes along with enhanced technological demands. At the same time, technology enables the realization of complex processes and facilitates marketing issues. Programs that are able to analyze semantically can autonomously build, manage and maintain social media profiles. This automatizes CRM processes. Videos or graphics that are relevant to the target audience can go viral within a short period of time if they cater to their interests, are more topical than the contester's and maintain a constant dialogue with the customer. The editorial and technical effort is not negligible, but the web offers a big variety of online tools for a qualitatively satisfying content marketing – from special search engines to idea-generators and platforms providing ready-to-use videos and graphics. Those brave enough to try new measures and tactics will be rewarded. This way of effectively merging customer loyalty and brand retention seems tiresome, but it is the future.

Crowdsourcing and Business Cases

To make use of the customers' ideas for product development and innovation processes, crowdsourcing is an excellent tool. For example, the german drugstore chain DM developed a new shower gel using the open-innovation-platform McDonalds had fast-food fans design new burger compositions using a burger generator and received more than 250.000 submissions. Of course, these examples cannot easily be applied for providers of financial services. It is rather about creating analogies and using creative potential that is happily provided by customers in communities, because it is not only fun, but makes them feel appreciated. Share economy changes prevalent business cases and creates new ones. In a way that car manufacturers deal with car sharing platforms, banks need to deal with business cases like Smava Auxmoney, or Wikifolio. Collaborative consumption is no one-hit wonder, nor is it to be underestimated. This applies for content as well as for communication, which has always been a bit more bold. Therefore companies like Google must be regarded capable of becoming a real threat to some banks as soon as they decide to tackle this business field.


The more business cases stem from a traditional and conventional technological comfort zone, the bigger are the challenges in successfully accomplishing digital transformation. The bank marketing should become the driving force of the innovation impulse of the whole company, in order to efficiently intertwine the processes and structures, especially in the fields of sales and IT. In a time, where markets become more complicated and changing and the customers become more demanding, the leading role should be played by those who know the customer best and who need to take the customer dialogue to a new level. The bank management should point the way and motivate the whole staff accordingly, so that changes in attitude can be put into practice.