Greater Value, Lower Cost: Optimize Processes in Financial Services

Financial services such as banks, credit institutions, and securities services firms, like other industries, must meet increasing demands and expectations for an enriched customer experience while increasing the business value of customer relationships.1

Yet unlike many industries, financial services employees – especially customer facing staff - are mired in document - driven processes. Recent research showed that more than a third of their processes, 37%, are still driven by paper according to an IDC Financial Insights Market Spotlight based on an IDC study commissioned by Ricoh.2

Financial services organizations surveyed believe that optimizing customer facing processes can help reduce operating costs on average by 10.5%.3 And since these processes directly impact the customer experience, optimization not only helps cut costs, but frees staff to build greater customer value. Research indicates that financial services executives believe transforming these processes has the potential to increase revenue by 10.7%.4

Richer customer engagement requires a greater exchange of information, and financial services must continue to demonstrate they can be trusted to protect customer information and privacy — a perennial challenge in a highly regulated industry.

Thoughtful process re-engineering leveraging the right expertise offers multiple pathways to success. More efficient processes reduce costs; more effective customer engagement increases competitiveness and revenue, while a strong reputation for trust supports continued growth.

Information is Key to Building Customer Value

While it’s true many routine financial transactions are moving online, customers still value human interaction when they have a question or an issue beyond the basics. Local offices and bank branches for example remain critical for customers seeking to resolve issues or information they cannot, or do not want, to seek online.

Face-to-face engagement with customers remains vital in financial services, drawing on information gathered and interpreted by people, even as new technologies continue to develop.5

Customer-facing processes in financial services firms are more likely to be document-driven than other industries. This is especially true in Sales, Marketing/Customer Communications and Customer Onboarding — exactly the touchpoints where we build a reputation and start to grow the lifetime value of the customer.

Customer-facing Processes in Financial Services Firms are More Document-Driven

Source: IDC, 2012

Onboarding and the period immediately following new customer acquisition is an especially critical time for financial services to lock in customer satisfaction. The first year in a customer relationship is when customers will develop a favorable or unfavorable brand experience — and, unfortunately, the time the bank is least likely to have the necessary customer data to best serve them.6

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Highlights from the Full Paper

  • Initially, important customer information is often “locked away” in paper or unstructured electronic documents
  • It is then difficult to serve a customer fully & successfully without a complete picture of their financial situation
  • Improved/optimized processes for documenting customer information & making it readily available will help employees better serve customers, thus raising the brand reputation
  • Optimizing information processing can reduce business costs by 10.5% and speed up the rate of completed business transactions (i.e., helps loan officers to close more business more often)
  • Information security & maintaining trust must be seriously considered when optimizing business processes: customer loyalty & satisfaction largely depends on how well personal/private information is protected

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1 Kidder, Lee, “Top Challenges Facing Financial Services in 2013,” Bank Systems and Technology, December 27, 2012.
2 Optimizing Document Processes Provides Dual Benefits For Financial Services Firms: Increased Revenue and Cost Take, July 2013.

3 IDC White Paper, "Organizational Blind Spot: The Role of Document - Drive Business Processes in Driving Top - Line Growth," Doc# 234430R, Sept 2012.
4 IDC White Paper, "Organizational Blind Spot: The Role of Document - Drive Business Processes in Driving Top - Line Growth," Doc# 234430R, Sept 2012
5Money, Risk, People and Process: Humans and machines in the financial services industry,” The Economist Intelligence Unit, January, 2013.
6 Hooks, Dennis, “How To Improve Customer Onboarding,” Bank Systems and Technology, March 7, 2013.