Digital customer relations dialogue in the financial industry
// by Matthias Rensing
Cloud Transition & Transformation, Hybrid Cloud, IT & Management Consulting, IT Strategy
A contribution by Christoph Rutter, Unit Manager Savings and Loan Banks Sales and Marketing of Finanz Informatik, responsible for implementation support i.a. of the electronic mailbox.
In the financial industry, digital customer communications were the domain of the direct banks for a long time. With the Electronic Mailbox, the IT service provider of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe savings and loan bank finance group is contributing to making the digital customer relations dialogue an essential customer care component of the regionally active savings and loan banks (Sparkassen). Through the fulfilment of the legal framework conditions regarding sustainable utilisation, the Electronic Mailbox advances towards becoming the central communications hub for savings and loan banks.
As IT service provider of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, the provision of an IT that is focussed on the needs of the savings and loan banks is one of the primary tasks of Finanz Informatik (FI) finance informatics unit. With this claim, FI is supporting savings and loan banks all across Germany in further positioning themselves as quality leaders and in standing up to the competition. The portfolio encompasses the whole IT spectrum – from the development and provision of applications, networks and technical infrastructure via computer centre operations all the way to consulting, training and support. At the core of this is the total banking solution OSPlus (One System Plus), developed by FI. The software covers any and all standard processes and workflows in modern retail banking. The central component is a powerful core banking system. The latter is completed by a multitude of applications all around the savings and loan and/or banking business. In this, OSPlus has been designed for the through-and-through support of the active sale of savings and loan, banking, and affiliated products across all phases of the sales process and across all sales channels. OSPlus is a flexibly utilisable IT solution that leaves the more than 400 savings and loan banks as well as the regional banks and regional building societies in German ample leeway for the implementation of their multi-channel strategy and supports it with innovative animated image offers (e.g. video consultation).
Customers in the day and age of digitalisation
With the increasing affinity towards the utilisation of online and mobile banking services by large parts of the population and at all age levels, it is important for the savings and loan banks to play out their classic strength of a close relationship to their customers also in the digital world. In light of this, with the Electronic Mailbox, FI has developed a solution with which the consultants and customers interact in a trustworthy environment and can also communicate directly. This solution interconnects all paths of correspondence between the customer and the savings and loan bank and is thereby advancing to becoming the central communications hub for the savings and loan banks. Because the IT-supported integrated multi-channel sales is an important prerequisite for the savings and loan banks to maintain their proximity to the customers locally and to at the same time address customers‘ wishes for free choice of their paths of interaction with their financial partner [Fig. 1].
The prerequisite is that OSPlus is based on a standardised modern architecture. It supports the targeted contacting of customers via the Internet, via the call centre, via mailing, at the self-service device, or also in person upon visiting the branch office. As such, OSPlus is the essential Customer Relationship Management (CRM) component for savings and loan banks. In this, for the staff at savings and loan banks, the integrated event management system is the central hub for customer-related information from all channels [Fig. 2]. There, information from consultations as well as information regarding the activities and inquiries of a customer on the Internet, at the call centre or in the self-service area are bundled and documented in a standardised environment.
With the Internet branch office in OSPlus, a central platform for online sales is available. It covers the complete online sales path for the handling of banking and brokerage as well as service events and provides product information, consulting and conclusion [of a contract] functions. The Electronic Mailbox is integrated into the Internet branch office. For customers, it provides two significant value-added functions, both in the branch office in online banking: Customers receive a comfortable storage option for any and all savings and loan bank related documents and contracts in the personal and protected online banking area. Furthermore, account and depository statements can be obtained electronically and stored in the long-term storage. In addition, any and all documents and contractual documents that arise as part of the business relationship with the savings and loan bank can be stored there as well [Fig. 3].
The Electronic Mailbox offers numerous advantages to both (online banking) customers and savings and loan banks: Customers can completely transition their correspondence and their contract management to the electronic form. They automatically receive information at fixed intervals. In this, they benefit from a central archiving and storage in the Electronic Mailbox with comfortable search functionality. With the Electronic Mailbox, savings and loan banks increase customer retention and additionally further their customers‘ loyalty to the institution. The relationship with the customer is intensified through the easier communication between the customer and the consultant as well as the improved tracking as to whether the customer is retrieving documents or messages from the Electronic Mailbox. The numerous functions integrated into OSPlus for the IT-supported approaching of customers that are based on sales events, campaigns or initiatives by the consultant can be utilised even more efficiently this way.
Within the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, the Electronic Mailbox has been positioned as the strategic solution for multi-channel sales. The FI is supporting the utilisation of the Electronic Mailbox not only through active product implementation support and training measures, but has also developed a best practices guideline. The best practices show the path towards a successful implementation of the secure communications platform and towards the gradual conversion and/or expansion of the customer dialogue to the digital channel. In addition, the FI is developing the Electronic Mailbox further: In the future the solution may – for instance – also be used with mobile banking apps. Through the IT service provider‘s holistic activities it is ensured that savings and loan banks can utilise a „secure channel“ for communication with the customers. This way, they will be well equipped for the SecurePay recommendations of the European Central Bank (ECB) which become binding as of 2015.
Finanz Informatik (FI), headquartered in Frankfurt/Main, is the IT service provider of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe. Its customers include 417 savings and loan banks, 8 regional banks, the DekaBank, 10 regional building societies, public insurance companies, as well as other companies of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe and of the financial industry. The portfolio of Finanz Informatik encompasses the whole IT spectrum – from the development and provision of applications, networks and technical infrastructure via computer centre operations all the way to consulting, training and support.
Since its founding in 1996 to the present, noventum consulting GmbH has been able to support Finanz Informatik in numerous consulting projects.