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June 29, 2023

Exploring Customer Experience: an illuminating panel discussion at OWIN23

Reading time: 5 min


In this thought-provoking panel discussion, industry experts and Objectway clients delved into the intricate relationship between Customer Experience and digitisation, uncovering the dynamic interplay between self-service solutions and hybrid approaches.

Joining the conversation on the stage of OWIN23 were Gareth Johnson, Head of Digital Channels at RBC Brewin Dolphin, Eric van der Deijl, Country Operating Officer at ABN AMRO Bethmann Bank, Laurent Lamblin, Head of Concept at EveryoneINVESTED, Luc Haldimann, CEO of Unblu and Nico Permentier, Head of UX Creation & Securities Design at KBC Bank.

The obvious place to start is looking at what the client expects and values in terms of service and the choices available to interact with their wealth manager.

Gareth Johnson, Head of Digital Channels at RBC Brewin Dolphin kicked off the discussion by saying there needs to always be means for the client to get in touch.

When you build the user journey you try to think of a slick digital service but you also need to consider how you can best serve the client in terms of convenience and availability. If there’s a problem, can the client get in touch with you? Hopefully that seems obvious, but it’s important. We like to call it winning in the moments that matter.

Gareth Johnson, Head of Digital Channels at RBC Brewin Dolphin

Still, clients are all not the same. Eric van der Deijl, Country Operating Officer at ABN AMRO Bethmann Bank, pointed out that service channels differ according to the segment. High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) for example are not willing to have a service that is fully digital, they appreciate the personal relationship.

We also have additional services we offer them, like philanthropy or in-depth financial planning, real estate that require a tailored and personal touch, he said.

Advisory clients, meanwhile, are much more open to self-service for simple things like a change of address but still value the adviser’s input when it comes to more complex products and affairs. Discretionary portfolio management clients, however, require a lot of attention in the onboarding phase to build the initial trust and the relationship and take things forward into the future.

The talk moved onto the various elements of customer experience. Laurent Lamblin, Head of Concept at EveryoneINVESTED, talked about the pre onboarding and prospecting stage. He thought that although profiling can be fully digitised, that the human touch is ever important in building that initial trust and ongoing discussions about the dynamics of investing and educating people.

They need to feel comfortable and have a smooth journey from the initial discussion to onboarding and starting their investment journey with us.

Laurent Lamblin, Head of Concept at EveryoneINVESTED

Indeed, although the human touch is key part of a smooth process and a major factor in building trust, digital interactions also need to be a positive experience.

I could not agree more, we have a team of 32 which is the largest UX team in Belgium – central to our ethos is that banking has to work on a practical level for our clients; we want to make it as frictionless and easy as possible to deal with us, commented Nico Permentier, Head of UX Creation & Securities Design at KBC Bank.

For us, customer experience is ease of use and solving problems. And ease of use is the easier your systems are, the more your clients will stay with you, he said. He went on to point out a large correlation between ease of use and loyalty.

Balancing Technology and Human Touch

With that in mind the panel talked about some of the easy things to get right when it comes to customer experience and how to find the balance between technology and the human touch.

This is obviously more complicated than just having WhatsApp on one hand and Zoom on the other and try to orchestrate that to accommodate the conversation with the customer, says Luc Haldimann, CEO of Unblu.

It comes down to how the various touchpoints with the customer can be embedded into the bank’s own systems in a secure, compliant way. Customers want the ease of use of Whatsapp, so that for example with just a click they could convert a chat into a video meeting and then log into the client portal during that meeting and in that way have a joined up, ‘live’ experience.

Haldimann adds that the digital touchpoints that came into the everyday during Covid-19 are now being refined.

Conversations are moving step by step digital because they are more flexible. You can have early or late calls in the day and it removes the travel overhead too.

Luc Haldimann, CEO of Unblu.

Johnson said that when robot advisers were initially introduced, that the conversation was all about how wealthy clients would not want to use them and would still want to come for a face-to-face meeting. Since then, the conversation has moved on and now offering clients the actual choice is the thing that matters.

Some people love coming into London and make a day of it, others are highly mobile and just don’t have the time. It’s about understanding the client and meeting their individual needs. Beyond mere segmentation, we need to be much more intentional about what we’re doing and be actively offering optionality at all stages of the client journey, he says.

Enhancing Accessibility and anticipating Client Needs

Accessibility was also raised by the panel as important, particularly in the context of people living longer. With a focus on client language,

An important thing is copy, what words you use on your application. Clients can block on a word. Your digital process can be easy with nice graphics and quick onboarding, but when your client sees a word he doesn’t understand, that’s when he loses trust and he’s gone, stated Permentier

Permentier and Van Der Deijl both referred to studies carried out in their respective countries and the importance of supporting users during the process of digitisation and making sure that everything is fit for purpose and actually meets the needs of all clients no matter what their life stage. When it comes to pure segmentation in banking, says Eric, we’re still organised quite rationally but we’re also looking at individual client’s needs.

Being able to accurately anticipate those needs was also discussed. This is very pertinent in the context of the ‘Great Wealth Transfer’ and the need to have a whole of family / trusted adviser relationship before any wealth actually changes hands.

Johnson gave the example of a junior ISA, saying it had been transformative to the business in bringing in the younger generation.

It created an anchor for the family and a hook into the business at an early age. But it is important to do this sort of thing from an authentic place and actively look to help with financial literacy and empower younger family members to take control of their finances.

Embedding Investing from an early age

The panel all agreed the ultimately the battle was to convert people from being spenders to savers and to turn clients into investors, no matter what their age. Indeed, embedding investing into the psyche is something that wealth managers will need to be able to do at an early age to make sure they capture the investors of the future. In that context making things fun, having interactive apps and micro investing capabilities was seen as a good method of piquing interest.

If wealth managers want to retain existing clients, attract new ones and successfully go down the wealth scale that having the right interfaces and customer experiences, combined with the human touch, is mission critical.