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Transactional relationships no longer suffice in digital world


by Elizabeth Fry | 03 Aug 2015
Australia’s financial institutions are doing a fair enough job when it comes to delivering a decent digital experience to their customers, with Suncorp the industry standout, according to a new study by technology giant, SAP.

Incidentally, Suncorp Insurance – which topped the cross-sectoral performance index for digital experience – had the further distinction of being the only brand in Australia to achieve a positive score. Overall, the result of SAP’s first ever Australian Digital Experience Index, to be released today, is worrisome since it appears Australia’s biggest and best known brands are at great risk of alienating consumers.

The study found Aussie companies achieved an average digital experience score of -25 per cent which means half of the 3,000 respondents were unhappy with the digital experiences delivered by 34 of Australia’s largest companies. Since the scores are calculated by subtracting the percentage of unsatisfied customers from the delighted customers, any minus score is a problem for the industry.
High digital expectations

However compared to most, Australian banks performed reasonably well scoring -18 per cent. The sector didn’t do as well as grocery retail – which ranked number one on a score of -10 per cent, but to put the sector in perspective, the banks scored higher than utilities, the worst industry with a score of -33.

“It’s important to note that Australian consumers have high digital expectations of their banks – banking is the most digitally-engaged industry sector in our study, with 84 per cent of respondents having interacted digitally with their bank,” states the research. Yet performance was mixed and the banks let themselves down badly when it came to digital experiences tailored to the individual. However, banks scored well on the attributes which consumers rate as important – anytime availability and a cohesive effortless experience. Clearly, where the banks are failing is in the tailoring of the experience to the individual. The banks are especially bad at making relevant personal offers without infringing on privacy, the SAP report revealed.

“Customer engagements need to be consistent across all digital channels,” said John Ruthven, president and managing director, SAP Australia and New Zealand. “The same rich experience a customer achieves on an ATM should also register on a mobile bank app or an online banking portal. Regardless, of the channel or device chosen, the user must still receive focused service and product recommendations.”

This is especially the case as consumers increasingly look beyond the big four banks for their banking services. “Transactional relationships no longer suffice, and consumers choose banks based upon a multitude of factors, not just the ability to access money,” noted Ruthven.
Tailored and meaningful

One company that understands this very well is Suncorp Insurance, the number-one ranked company across all industries. For Ivan Owide, Suncorp Insurance’s Head of Commerce & Specialist Brands, the digital experience is now their customers’ preferred window to the organisation.

“Increasingly, customers want much more from the digital experience than functionality,” he said. “Yes, they want it to be convenient and timely, but they now want the experience to be tailored and meaningful. The omni-channel experience here is key: there is no online customer. We look to integrate our online experiences with our offline conversations to build a similar experience across channels. It’s not about replicating the offline online.”

According the study, Suncorp excels not only in the functional attributes, but also in the more emotional ones – specifically: “responsive and interactive, respectful and dedicated to my needs, fits in with my life, is effortless and customised and tailored to my preferences”.

“Consistent across the best-performing brands in our research is a data-driven approach to the digital experience that brings the front and back office together to delight the customer,” said Ruthven. “This sets them apart from their competition.”

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