Building The Customer First Mindset

Agile is often thought of as a process when it’s really a mind-set (supported by processes, of course). Yes, it’s about testing and learning, and new ways of working, but at the heart of agile is the determination to provide the customer with something she or he wants or needs. That’s the point. Enshrining this principle across the business provides a consistent point of reference. But while almost every company will claim to be “customer first,” a closer look under the hood often reveals that internal efficiency or profit rather than customer need is the true driving force.

An agile mind-set starts from the premise that everyone is responsible for the customer, be it the CEO who determines the business strategy, the salesperson directly serving the customer, or the data scientist developing analytics platforms. You will only be able to embed agile ways of working once this becomes a core value, providing cohesion and purpose. This isn’t about doing your job better; it’s about serving the customer better.

The way a true customer-first ethos comes to life is through design—the process of integrating the customer point of view into all development.

This is much more than gathering insights or building elegant websites. It’s about building an adaptive learning process around the customer for everything the company does.

Getting design right is worth a lot. Companies in the top quartile of the McKinsey Design Index, which rates companies by how strong they are at design, outperformed peers in their sector in terms of growth by as much as two to one.

Here are two of the most important things the winning companies do:

1. They Make Huge Efforts To Know The Customer

A design approach requires solid customer insights to understand the real needs of potential users. Yet only around half the companies McKinsey surveyed conducted user research before generating their first design ideas or specifications.

One international pizza chain wanted to improve home delivery, a crowded market where consumers were already spoiled for choice. Data analysis revealed that one of the biggest drivers of customer satisfaction was how hot the delivered pizza was. This fact led the business to invest in “Intelligent Kitchen” technology, which determines when orders are baked based on the delivery address, driver availability, and current location, as well as road conditions to ensure the customer got a piping hot pizza. This approach grew overall sales 7 percent in the first  year, and more in the years following.

The best results come from constantly blending both quantitative and qualitative research. One top team invites customers to its regular monthly meeting solely to discuss the merits of its products and services.

And the CEO of one of the world’s largest banks spends a day a month with the bank’s clients and encourages all members of the C-suite to do the same.

2. They Continuously Improve With Customer Feedback

Continuous improvement is key to success for a digital transformation. This is the raw learning capability. You can see it in companies that foster a culture of sharing early prototypes with outsiders and discouraging excessive time spent on mock-ups or internal presentations. Despite the value of iteration, however, almost 60 percent of companies in our survey said they used prototypes only for internal-production testing, and even then, only late in the development process.

New technologies allow companies to uncover insights and test products in a dramatically faster way than traditional market research or focus groups. Digital marketing teams can convene online customer panels using video chats and watch as the panels test products and provide feedback in real time. One insurer created digital diaries to help identify customer pain points that would previously have gone undetected.

Similarly, digital companies can quickly A/B test new products and campaigns with thousands of customers in hours or days.

Agile Defined


Agile isn’t just a process. It’s a mind-set that puts customer objectives first. Team autonomy works best with guiding principles about what needs to be done and why.

Agile coaches are necessary to train people to learn new skills fast—leaders included.

Agile budgeting helps scale agile by quickly allocating money to projects.

Agile ways of working can’t take hold unless they are supported by stable processes.

Design thinking is the commitment to completely understanding your customer.

Contributed to BSI By: Arun Arora, Peter Dahlstrom, Klemens Hjartar, and Floria Wunderlich. Excerpted from their book Fast Times: How Digital Winners Set Direction, Learn, and Adapt (Amazon Publishing)

The Blake Project Can Help You Create A Brighter Competitive Future In The Jobs To Be Done Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education

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Shep Hyken: Customer Service & CX Expert

Go to http://www.TheCustomerFocus.com or call 314-692-2200 to learn more about Shep Hyken or to learn about customer service training. Your people attend customer service training. They learn techniques and tactics on how to deal with complaining customers, angry customers or customers who just need a little support. They are taught the right answers to some difficult questions. This is what customer service training is all about. But… What happens when something happens that is outside of the parameters of the training your employees have received?

Customer-Centric Leadership is The New Growth Indicator: Zendesk & ESG

  • The new report, CX Champions: How CX Leaders Who Improve Their Game Are Driving Business Success , surveyed more than 1,000 CX managers and leaders in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America to better understand their investments in CX.

Zendesk today released new research in partnership with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) showing how companies investing in customer experience (CX) are reaping the benefits.

The global study found that there is a clear link between organizations with more mature customer experience capabilities and greater business success in areas such as market share, increased customer spend, and dynamic processes over the past six months.

The research also found that, as companies around the world adapt to new forms of remote work and constant uncertainty in 2020, more than three-quarters of medium-sized and enterprise companies (78%) and almost two Thirds of small businesses (65%) said that customer-centric agility has increased in importance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Organizations are under increasing pressure to outperform the competition and grow their businesses – that’s an even greater challenge as companies adjust to the impact of a global pandemic and associated uncertainty ahead,” he said. Colleen Berube, CIO and senior vice president of operations at Zendesk.

“By working with ESG, we set out to confirm the link between an organization’s ability to deliver a high-quality experience and better business results. The relationship is clear. We hope that these insights into the connection between a focus on customer experience and business success can help companies learn from those ahead of the CX scale, “he added.

The new report, CX Champions: How CX Leaders Who Improve Their Game Are Driving Business Success , surveyed more than 1,000 CX managers and leaders in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America to better understand their investments in CX. Based on the research, ESG developed a CX Maturity Scale that segments organizations into three levels of customer service maturity, based on seven key characteristics that cover how organizations use their support teams, technology and data to drive better performance. Next, ESG classified the companies into three maturity categories: Starters : showing from zero to three of the seven characteristics; Risers (Advanced): they have four to five of the characteristics; and Champions (Expert 🙂 that meet at least six of the characteristics.

Some key findings from the report show that companies that invest in CX reap significant benefits, including:

  • Faster growth: Even during the pandemic, midsize and business Champions were found to be 8.7 times more likely than beginners to have significantly increased customer spending. For the Small Business Champions, this figure increases to 9.2 times.
  • Increased market share: Medium-sized and enterprise Champions were 3.3 times more likely to have increased their customer base in the past six months. Small Business Champions experienced similar growth, 3.6 times more likely to have increased their customer base in the same period.
  • High-level support: Champions also ensured increased investment and support from high-level leaders within their organization. For example, senior Champions leaders of midsize companies and enterprises were 3.8 times more likely to see customer service as a differentiator.

“Our research identified a clear connection between CX excellence and business growth. Not only are companies in the Champion stage of scale seeing better results in traditional service metrics such as time to resolution and CSAT, they are also experiencing positive business results in customer spend, retention, and CX board-level support as a business priority, ”said Adam DeMattia, director of personalized research at ESG.

By: Entrepreneur en Español

Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows how customer-centric leadership can help your business. Try our award-winning PM software for free: https://www.projectmanager.com/?utm_s… The customer is king, but unfortunately they aren’t always treated as such. See how customer-centric leadership can help your business with real-life case studies from successful companies such as Apple, Amazon and Virgin Airlines.

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How Data Can Help You Understand Evolving Customer Expectations In The New Normal

How well do you understand your customers? Whether your brand is B2B or B2C, your customers expect seamless, omnichannel experiences. Especially during the Covid-19 crisis, customers expect brands to offer value, relevant products and services, and to grow with them as their needs evolve.

The pandemic has taught businesses that staying relevant in a time of crisis requires a deep, holistic understanding of the customer, and an openness to new ways of doing business. To stay ahead of such rapid change, customer intelligence and data is more important than ever. From remapping and re-creating customer journeys, to developing more accurate forecasting models, all businesses need a data and analytics strategy that allows everyone in the organization to see customers needs in real time and build scenarios, identify gaps, stress-test ideas and improve results with actionable insights.

Your customer is expecting you to lead, and it’s never been more important for your brand to address their pain points and deliver exceptional experiences.

Meeting the customer where they are

While the long-term economic and societal impacts of the pandemic are yet to be fully understood, customer attitudes and behaviors have already shifted in profound ways, and some of these changes are predicted to continue into the future. Recent consumer surveys reveal how rapidly behaviors are evolving:

  • 68% of people report that the pandemic has changed the products and services they think are important
  • 75% of people using digital channels for the first time will continue to do so
  • In Italy, e-commerce sales for consumer products rose 81% in a single week and in the UK, 20% of people say they won’t buy fashion in-store again

In the retail sector, the shift to online buying and direct-to-consumer selling, coupled with a decrease in discretionary spending and flat sales for net-new products, has forced businesses to change their business models overnight. Traditional B2B businesses like financial services organizations are not far behind, augmenting existing sales and service models so they can better serve customers remotely. In the healthcare sector, patients can now choose telehealth as a standard alternative to an in-person visit—and adoption has been swift: one of Europe’s largest telehealth providers, KRY International, has seen a 200 percent increase in registrations. Government agencies and educational institutions are also finding ways to deliver their services in a virtual world.

But meeting the customer “where they are” is not just smart business—it’s essential for survival. Business segments that aren’t responding to changing customer preferences by accelerating their own digital transformations will be left behind. And a central part of transformation includes prioritizing customer analytics.

In today’s competitive and uncertain market environment, your advantage lies in understanding what resonates with your customers. How businesses choose to respond will influence buying decisions today and in the future.

Goal: a complete picture of your customer

What kinds of customer experience metrics are valuable in order to gain understanding of your customer? To create baseline analyses, you need behavioral, transactional, and feedback metrics. And as Gartner points out, more frequent, real-time monitoring of customer metrics is essential during this crisis, since attitudes are changing so rapidly. Useful metrics include:

  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Customer effort scores
  • Net promoter scores
  • Customer call volume and types of queries
  • Website behavior
  • Point-of-sale data
  • Geospatial data
  • Social media sentiment
  • Employee feedback

Every business, regardless of industry segment, should also expect to field new questions from customers about products, logistics, inventory, supply chain, and operations—and every business needs to be prepared to capture this feedback and respond.

01. Strategic Dashboard

Potential Users: C-Suite, VP, DirectorObjectives: At-a-glance cohesive data storyInsight Examples: Performance and comparison metrics tracked against enterprise goalsExample: Executive Summary dashboard

02. Tactical Dashboard

Potential Users: Analysts, Brand ManagersObjectives: Granular, in-depth analysesInsight Examples: Identify trends, monitor processes supporting strategic objectives, create targets and predictionsExample: E-commerce Marketing Optimization dashboard

03. Operational Dashboard

Potential Users: CRM Support Teams, Website Managers, Marketing ManagersObjectives: High-level, real-time monitoring and managementInsight Examples: Retail and customer satisfaction KPIs, marketing campaign performance, inventory statusExample: Store-level Product Availability dashboard

Know your customer, know your business

Things definitely look different now, and they are different. When every aspect of your operation is under scrutiny, you need information, quickly, to make the right decisions for your business and your customers. Understanding customers and their expectations has always been a priority for businesses looking to create competitive advantage, but the pandemic has proven that businesses must have an even stronger line of sight into what their customers need.

You need to be prepared to proactively respond to rapidly-evolving behaviors and perceptions. As David Leonhardt notes in a recent New York Times op-ed, “When the economy weakens, people have to make decisions about where to pull back.” By using data insights to understand and adapt to new realities, you can give your customers reasons to remain loyal and eliminate some of the uncertainty facing your business.

What untapped insights are waiting to be discovered in your customer data?

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Dow Futures Rise Nearly 200 Points As Investors Shake Off a Continued Spike In Coronavirus Cases

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Stock futures rose in early morning trading on Monday as investors looked past a record spike in coronavirus cases in Florida.market

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 185 points, pointing to a more than 200-point gain at Monday’s open. The S&P 500 futures and the Nasdaq 100 futures contracts also pointed to a positive Monday start for the two indexes.

Florida reported 15,299 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest single day total for any U.S. state since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, the U.S. has reported more than 60,000 new cases daily for three days in a row now, bringing the national total to more than 3 million cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“COVID remains a huge problem w/cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities all climbing,” Vital Knowledge founder Adam Crisafulli said in a note on Sunday. “The market continues to absorb all this information relatively well and this seems to be a function of vaccine hopes, lower fatality rates vs. Mar/April, the avoidance of wholesale lockdowns, and the lack of a resurgence in the Northeast (esp. NYC).”

The Dow and the S&P 500 are coming off two consecutive weeks of gains, while the resilience in tech shares pushed the Nasdaq to a new record after three straight positive weeks. For July, the Dow and the S&P 500 have risen 1.0% and 2.7%, respectively. The tech-heavy Nasdaq outperformed, climbing 10.7% this month as Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Alphabet all reclaimed new highs.

“The overall rally is still very narrow…and several of the high flying mega-cap stocks are becoming overbought (and more over-valued),” Matthew Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak, said in a note on Sunday. “Therefore, we HAVE to wait to see if the key resistance level on the S&P is indeed broken to the upside before we can confirm that another rally leg in the broad stock market has begun.”

Earnings season is set to kick off this week with big banks and others reporting their quarterly results. JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo are scheduled to report on Tuesday. Pepsi will report earnings on Monday before the market open.

Corporate profits are expected to fall by 44% in the second quarter, which would be the biggest drop in quarterly earnings since the fourth quarter of 2008, according to Refinitiv data. However, the market could shrug off the sharp profit decline as long as companies signal a recovery on the horizon.

After the S&P 500′s best quarter in more than 20 years, the broad market’s comeback rally has slowed down amid fears of a worsening pandemic. Still, the equity benchmark is now down just 1.4% year to date, sitting about 6% off its February record.

By: Yun Li   @YunLi626

Source: https://www.cnbc.com

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The Importance Of Evolving Customer Service And Communication Strategies

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Customer service and its importance is nothing new. For as long as businesses have been around, customer service has always been at the forefront of their success and failure.

What has evolved is what customer service looks like and exactly how we interact and engage with customers. Previous generations grew up understanding the importance of the face-to-face handshake mentality. Customer interaction came from a visit to your store, or perhaps a phone call.

Fast forward to the present day, and customers learn all about your business without ever picking up the phone or visiting your establishment. Nowadays we have Google reviews, websites and, of course, social media. Businesses now have to look at customer service in an entirely different light.

All of these mediums have created new challenges. First on that list is instant customer feedback. I’ve found that most customers expect near-immediate responses to their questions and concerns. They also have the power to brag about your business or bash your business with the click of a button.

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You must also consider how you can be present on all these platforms — or if you need to be. How will you manage them? What will you look for regarding return on investment?

Here are five of the biggest lessons I think brands need to learn to succeed in customer service in today’s age:

1. Right Platform, Right Message

Chasing all the various platforms can be more damaging than being on none at all. Companies must first look at staffing and create a game plan for each platform they plan to interact with. When considering what platform(s) to use, you must ask yourself: Are my customers there? If so, how do those customers consume content?

A simple blanket approach does not apply here. Each platform has different demographics, some with crossover demographics. And the messaging consumed by customers is relative to that platform.

You must also ensure you will have the time to dedicate to interacting with customers and potential customers on the platforms you choose. Unanswered questions and comments are like not answering the phone.

2. Analytics And Agility Are Key

One of the great things about social media, in particular, is the fact that it’s instant. You can quickly and easily measure the success of a campaign or promotion with little effort. Utilizing that data/feedback and being agile enough to make adjustments on the fly is the key to successfully navigating social media.

It’s important to learn who your audience is and how they interact with your business. It’s equally as important to consistently measure and adjust your messaging based on analytics.

3. Don’t Ignore Feedback (Positive Or Negative)

Just as important, if not more so, is to not ignore customer feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. As I stated above, social media has created the opportunity for real-time feedback from your customers and potential customers. It’s important to treat every one of these interactions as though the customer is standing in front of you.

Individuals are utilizing these mediums to learn about you, and how you interact with them can make or break that relationship. Current customers apply here as well. They can be some of your best influencers and brand loyalists online, or they can quite easily turn off a great number of future customers.

Consider this: Before the advent of social media, a person who was unhappy with your company may have told a few of their friends about their experience. Those friends could have potentially shared with their friends. Now, with a simple click of a button, they make it easy for all their friends to see the negative feedback, but also make it quite sharable. Now it’s reaching friends of friends of friends, and that’s hard to undo!

4. Be Authentic

Hand in hand with “don’t ignore feedback” is being authentic. Point No. 1 talked about the right messaging, right platform. That’s ensuring you are on-brand and providing the correct content. Being authentic is sticking to your brand, your company mantra.

We all make mistakes. How we handle those mistakes is often what sets truly successful companies apart. It’s difficult to hide from mistakes, and customers are not looking for the perfect company. They’re seeking a business that treats them fairly and is always honest and authentic.

5. Have Fun, And Let Your Personalities Show

Much like the days of a face-to-face meeting and handshake, it is important to connect with the customer. Creating auto-replies and scripts does not allow your company’s personality to shine through.

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You want customers to feel connected to you and your brand. Your content should align with this as well. Allow things like videos to show your staff’s personality. Give potential customers the chance to identify with someone, and then carry that over to your online customer service.

With all that being said, yes, the way we interact with people has changed dramatically over the years, but the principals of good customer service have not.

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Source: The Importance Of Evolving Customer Service And Communication Strategies

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Success Means Solving Customers’ Challenges

Visit Strokes of Genius to read more stories about the technologies behind the paints and coatings that are transforming everything–from the way we work to the way we fly.

Companies that serve a wide spectrum of markets with diverse products often view their breadth as a potent cross-selling opportunity–and they’re right. But PPG understands that adapting product technologies from one market to solve the problems of another requires more than a desire to grow the business.

First and foremost, such cross-selling requires being close to the customer and focusing on solving customer challenges. Clearly illustrating the effectiveness of this approach has been PPG’s successful application of technology developed for marine coatings customers to solve a problem for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

The opportunity surfaced when an onsite PPG support team at an assembly plant of a major automotive original equipment manufacturer saw an opportunity to help address a problem the carmaker was having with maintaining a key piece of paint shop equipment. The metal carriers that move cars through the manufacturing line were quickly becoming coated with thick, dripping paint, which required frequent cleaning with high-pressure spray.

Greater efficiency and safety

The problem added cost and was a safety concern. “It’s been an issue for decades” with carmakers, says Kevin Cunningham, PPG custom platform manager for substrate protection systems, who joined PPG after a 40-year career with major automotive manufacturer. “It’s a major hassle and expense. Plus, the power-washing equipment needs to be operated at extremely high pressures, so it’s also dangerous for the operators.”

After identifying the problem, the PPG team set in motion an initiative to identify and adapt existing PPG technology to solve this problem. The initial contact between PPG’s customer technical team led to the identification of a technology used in the oil and gas industry as a potential solution for protecting the automotive paint-shop car carriers. The final product, PPG ENVIROGREEN® 84, resists damage in the operating environment, but it also resists adhesion of dirt and is easy to clean.

A better solution

Where a typical car carrier might have to be taken out of service for cleaning every 300 to 350 cycles, a carrier coated with PPG Envirogreen 84 can go thousands of cycles between cleanings. After the initial application, another trial took place at a different customer’s assembly plant. The success of that trial led to a full-scale commercialization effort in 2018 that demonstrated the power of “One PPG.” Two PPG teams collaborated to develop documentation and application guides for PPG Envirogreen 84, sales strategies for reaching the decision-makers, and a turn-key solution that includes application.

“It really took off,” says Chris Meier, PPG’s protective and marine coatings national accounts manager. “We have been able to adapt an existing technology for a new market that could ultimately represent significant new business.”

He added that nearly all major automotive OEMs are adopting PPG Envirogreen 84 to coat car carriers at new plants as well as some existing facilities. In addition to illustrating the power of cooperation across business units, the PPG Envirogreen 84 example shows the importance of being close to the customer, according to Randy Peterson, director, business development, PPG’s automotive OEM services.

“It’s a big win,” he says, “that all began by leveraging our daily presence within the customer’s plant and finding a way to create and share in the resulting value.”

By: PPGView

Source: Success Means Solving Customers’ Challenges

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How Can Banks Rise to The Omnichannel challenge?

Banks should follow in the footsteps of other innovative consumer-focused industries to deliver an omnichannel banking experience that is relationship-focused, interactive, relevant and personal.

Never has technology accelerated changes in consumer behavior so quickly that whatever is cutting-edge today becomes tomorrow’s status quo. And, consumers’ expectations of digital services and platforms change even more rapidly.

For example, consumers are no longer completely satisfied with having content available digitally and on demand; they want personalized suggestions specifically tailored for them. And why shouldn’t they? They expect the same from their social media platforms, where personalized ads are as familiar now as they were once disconcerting.

In fact, today’s mobile-first society enables conversationalist on a scale never seen before, which has transformed consumer habits – from how they spend their free time to how they plan vacations, where and when they shop, and even how they manage their homes.

New age banking

Banking customers are no different when it comes to managing their money. They expect to access their information, and perform an ever-expanding list of banking actions anywhere, anytime and on any device. They expect their bank to meet their individual needs and preferences in the same way that their media streaming service or favorite big tech company does. With these expectations, they’re challenging what banks do, why they do it and how it’s done.

Large-scale changes in the banking landscape mean that consumers are spoil for choice, and recent studies indicate that many would even consider going over to the competition – including to non-traditional players – if their current providers fell behind in service delivery and no longer met their expectations.

Meeting customers’ expectations no longer hinges on a omnichannel strategy per se. Although multichannel banking has been around for years, it is no longer ground-breaking and certainly does not provide a competitive advantage. What can give banks the edge, however, is taking stock of their various channels and strategically considering how their customers use them, and what this reveals about their preferences.

Taking lessons from retail

Traditionally, banks spend much of their time and effort ensuring accurate transaction processing, but they’re starting to recognize that there are valuable lessons to be learnt from industries, like retail, that place a strong emphasis on customer experience. Some of the world’s top-rated banks understood this years ago when they were still considered challenger banks. They succeeded in turning customer experience into a competitive advantage that resulted in increased market share and remarkable customer satisfaction rates.

For the retailers known for their customer-first perspective, it is their store of data that gives them the edge over their competitors. They know that every time a customer searches online from their computer or mobile device, or calls the customer service department, that customer leaves a digital trail. This data-rich trail leads to a more intimate understanding of that customer and therefore what it takes to provide them with more relevant services and offerings – the essence of contextual commerce.

Smart organizations recognize the possibilities that using data in this way opens up. Instead of having a handful of interactions with their consumers each month, they can establish meaningful, ongoing and highly personalized interactions every day.

Mobile-centric

Ensuring that these exchanges are truly valuable to customers is not always easy, especially when a bank must simultaneously balance factors like cost, legacy systems and competition. For many banks, a digital-first, or even a digital-only strategy, seemed like the answer. After all, digital channels have great potential in terms of cost savings and keeping up with the competition. However, research indicates that satisfaction levels among digital-only banking customers is significantly lower than among digital-centric customers, i.e., those that occasionally also use branches. So, while leveraging digital channels is a must for any bank, losing sight of the importance of branches, and the opportunity they provide to personally interact with customers, can be detrimental.

So, how can banks provide the level of service consumers demand, through the channels they prefer, while managing to offer a consistent experience across them all? Leveraging the mobile device, a universal tool that consumers always have with them, could provide the answer.

If the mobile device could be leveraged to securely identify a customer to their bank, it could become the ideal way to build confidence in sophisticated technologies. And even though the mobile device is a digital tool, it could also enhance the customer’s in-branch experience. For example, customers could use it to check in at a specific branch, authenticate interactions and digitally sign documents. A phone also delivers contextual information about a consumer, such as their location, which can initiate highly relevant and interactive dialogues at key moments. In this way, the mobile device can become the portal to the other channels – a trusted and familiar key to an omnichannel banking relationship.

True multichannel means more than just many ways

Today, banks are starting to realize that a true omnichannel approach to banking means more than just providing multiple ways for customers to transact. It’s about a thoughtfully designed, seamless and consistent interaction between customers and their financial institutions across multiple channels, with each channel complementing the others.

In the financial services industry, we’re still in the early stages of digital transformation. As Millennial and Gen Z consumers start to make up larger portions of the workforce, there will be countless changes in the ways they will want to interact with service providers like banks. To meet all these changing demands, banks will need to think about their multichannel capabilities, as well as the insights they can gain from their multiple consumer touch points, as a competitive advantage. In doing so, they can offer their customers the personalized experiences they have come to expect – no matter the channel.


About the Author

Frans Labuschagne, UK & Ireland Country Manager, Entersekt. Business Leadership and Management: Comprehensive international general management, sales and marketing management experience. Broad knowledge of the technology industry, especially financial services, enterprise software, and broad base of partnership management, with a focus on highly integrated solutions of management consulting, technology integration and application development.

Featured image: ©REDPIXEL

Source: How can banks rise to the Omnichannel challenge?

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The retail and supply chain industries are buzzing with strategies for succeeding in a multichannel marketplace: How do you give customers the choices they want on the channels they want, while fulfilling the order in a way that’s convenient for the customer as well as efficient and profitable for the retailer? Circling around this question, though, is yet a larger one –to protect your brand and reputation, how do you ensure a consistent customer experience across all channels? Executing your omni-channel strategy is easier said than done. In this video series, we invite retailers and grocers to think outside of the warehouse box about how to incorporate brick-and-mortar stores into the order fulfillment process. Watch to discover how businesses are implementing these techniques today to offer a seamless customer experience, reduce costs, and increase e-commerce profitability! Watch the full video series here: http://www.highjump.com/video-series-…

How’s the Consumer Doing? Financial Sector Earnings Next Week Could Help Tell Us

Key Takeaways:

  • Big banks to kick off reporting season the week of October 14
  • Earnings for sector expected to fall slightly, analysts say
  • Brexit, trade, consumer health on topic list for Financial earnings calls

During Q2 earnings season, Financial sector results helped renew investor confidence in the U.S. consumer.

The question heading into Q3 is whether banking executives still see the same kind of strength, and if they think it can continue amid trade wars, Brexit, and signs of weakness in the U.S. economy.

Over the last three months, as the broader stock market rallied to an all-time high, slammed the brakes, and then re-tested earlier peaks, consumer health arguably did much of the heavy lifting. It felt like every time stocks pulled back, they got a second wind from retail sales, housing or some other data or earnings news that showed consumers still out there buying.

Today In: Money

The banks played a huge role in setting the stage by reporting better-than-expected Q2 results that showed signs of strong consumer demand even as some of the banks’ trading divisions took a hit. Next week, six of the biggest banks come back to talk about their Q3 experience and what they expect for Q4. Analysts expect Financial sector earnings to drop slightly in Q3.

That said, most of the major banking names have done an excellent job keeping costs in check as they wrestle with fundamental industry headwinds like falling interest rates and slowing revenue from their trading divisions. This time out, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more of the same, and you can’t rule out a bit more vigor from the trading business thanks to all the volatility we saw in the markets last quarter.

Earnings growth may not be there for Financials this time around, or it could be negligible. At the end of the day, though, Financial companies are still likely to be remarkably profitable considering a yield curve that remains relatively flat and global macroeconomic concerns, according to Briefing.com. This sector knows how to make money, but it might just not make as much as it did a year ago. Earnings will likely show large banking companies still in good financial condition with the U.S. consumer generally in decent shape for now, as the U.S. economy arguably remains the best-kept house on a tough block.

Investors have started to pick up on all this, judging from the S&P 500 Financial sector’s good health over the last month and year to date. The sector is up 3.4% from a month ago to easily lead all sectors over that time period, and up 15% since the start of 2019. The 15% gain is below the SPX’s 17% year-to-date pace, but it’s an improvement after a few years when Financials generally didn’t participate as much in major market rallies.

What to Listen For

No one necessarily planned it, but it’s helpful in a way that banks report early in the earnings season. Few other industries have larger megaphones or the ability to set the tone like the biggest financial institutions can. The other sectors are important, too, but they often see things from their own silos. Combined, the big banks have a view of the entire economy and all the industries, as well as what consumers and investors are doing. Their positive remarks last quarter didn’t really give Financial stocks an immediate lift, but it did apparently help reassure investors who were nervous about everything from trade wars to Brexit.

Going into Q3 earnings, those same issues dog the market, and bank executives have a front-row seat. How do they see trade negotiations playing out? Can consumers hold up if trade negotiations start to go south? How’s the consumer and corporate credit situation? Will weakness in Europe spread its tentacles more into the U.S.? And is there anything bank CEOs think the Fed or Congress can do to fend off all these challenges?

On another subject closer to the banks’ own business outlook, what about the shaky initial public offering (IPO) situation? That’s getting a closer look as a few recent IPOs haven’t performed as well as some market participants had expected. One question is whether other potential IPOs might get cold feet, potentially hurting businesses for some of the major investment banks.

All the big bank calls are important, but JP Morgan Chase (JPM) on Tuesday morning might stand out. Last time, CEO Jamie Dimon said he saw positive momentum with the U.S. consumer, and his words helped ease concerns about the economic outlook. More words like that this time out might be well timed when you consider how nervous many investors seem to be right now. On the other hand, if Dimon doesn’t sound as positive, that’s worth considering, too.

While few analysts see a recession in the works—at least in the short term—bank executives might be asked if they’re starting to see any slowdown in lending, which might be a possible sign of the economy putting on the brakes. Softer manufacturing sector data over the last few months and falling capital investment by businesses could provide subject matter on the big bank earnings calls.

Regionals Vs. Multinationals

While big banks like JPM operate around the world and might be particularly attuned to the effects of trade, regional banks make most of their loans within the U.S., potentially shielding them from overseas turbulence.

Regional banks also might provide a deeper view into what consumers are doing in the housing and credit card markets. With rates still near three-year lows, we’ve seen some data suggest a bump in the housing sector lately, and that’s been backed by solid earnings data out of that industry. If regional banks report more borrowing demand, that would be another sign pointing to potential strength in consumer sentiment. Refinancing apparently got a big lift over the last few months, and now we’ll hear if banks saw any benefit.

One possible source of weakness, especially for some of the regional players, could be in the oil patch. With crude prices and Energy sector earnings both under pressure, there’s been a big drop in the number of rigs drilling for oil in places like Texas over the last few months, according to energy industry data. That could potentially weigh on borrowing demand. Also, the manufacturing sector is looking sluggish, if recent data paint an accurate picture, maybe hurting results from regional banks in the Midwest. It might be interesting to hear if bank executives are worried more about the U.S. manufacturing situation.

Another challenge for the entire sector is the rate picture. The Fed lowered rates twice since banks last reported, and the futures market is penciling in another rate cut as pretty likely for later this month. Lower rates generally squeeze banks’ margins. If rates drop, banks simply can’t make as much money.

The 10-year Treasury yield has fallen from last autumn’s high above 3.2% to recent levels just above 1.5% amid fears of economic sluggishness and widespread predictions of central bank rate cuts. The long trade standoff between China and the U.S. has also contributed to lower yields as many investors pile into defensive investments like U.S. Treasuries, cautious about the growth outlook.

Another thing on many investors’ minds is the current structure of the yield curve. The 10-year and two-year yields inverted for a stretch in Q3, typically an indication that investors believe that growth will be weak. That curve isn’t inverted now, but it remains historically narrow. Still, some analysts say the current low five-year and two-year yields might mean healthy corporate credit, maybe a good sign for banks.

Q3 Financial Sector Earnings

Analysts making their Q3 projections for the Financial sector expect a slowdown in earnings growth from Q2. Forecasting firm FactSet pegs Financial sector earnings to fall 1.8%, which is worse than its previous estimate in late September for a 0.9% drop. By comparison, Financial earnings grew 5.2% in Q2, way better than FactSet’s June 30 estimate for 0.6% growth.

Revenue for the Financial sector is expected to fall 1.6% in Q3, down from 2.6% growth in Q2, FactSet said.

While estimates are for falling earnings and revenue, the Financial sector did surprise last quarter with results that exceeded the average analyst estimate. You can’t rule out a repeat, but last time consumer strength might have taken some analysts by surprise. Now, consumer strength in Q3 seems like a given, with the mystery being whether it can last into Q4.

Upcoming Earnings Dates:

  • Citigroup (C) – Tuesday, October 15
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) – Tuesday, October 15
  • Wells Fargo (WFC) – Tuesday, Oct. 15, (B)
  • Goldman Sachs (GS) – Tuesday, October 15
  • Bank of America (BAC) – Wednesday, October 16
  • Morgan Stanley (MS) – Thursday, October 17

TD Ameritrade® commentary for educational purposes only. Member SIPC.

I am Chief Market Strategist for TD Ameritrade and began my career as a Chicago Board Options Exchange market maker, trading primarily in the S&P 100 and S&P 500 pits. I’ve also worked for ING Bank, Blue Capital and was Managing Director of Option Trading for Van Der Moolen, USA. In 2006, I joined the thinkorswim Group, which was eventually acquired by TD Ameritrade. I am a 30-year trading veteran and a regular CNBC guest, as well as a member of the Board of Directors at NYSE ARCA and a member of the Arbitration Committee at the CBOE. My licenses include the 3, 4, 7, 24 and 66.

Source: How’s the Consumer Doing? Financial Sector Earnings Next Week Could Help Tell Us

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JP Morgan Chase: https://www.zacks.com/stock/quote/JPM… PNC Bank: https://www.zacks.com/stock/quote/PNC… US Bank: https://www.zacks.com/stock/quote/USB… Banks are usually at the front of earnings season and help to set the tone for the rest of the market. However, with a terrible interest rate outlook, can the space still post good profits and give us a positive lead-off for this earnings season? Follow us on StockTwits: http://stocktwits.com/ZacksResearch Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZacksResearch Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ZacksInvestm…

Why Your Customers Should Be Central To Your Innovation Efforts

There’s a big mistake that a lot of companies make. It’s one that until a few years ago was common in my own organization, and it stems from a worthy goal: to boost innovation. The mistake is adopting what I call the “science fair” mentality: encouraging employees throughout the organization to innovate freely but without much, if any, direct contact with the very customers these innovations are intended for.

Unconstrained innovation sounds exciting, like the sort of thing startups do. But the truth is that successful startups actually don’t do that, because they know that innovation without a framework rarely leads to business success. It does lead to inventions that are impressive and creative, but they ultimately prove impractical or irrelevant for driving business growth.

How, then, can you get employees to innovate products and services that actually improve the performance of your business? The answer is by creating a structure that involves your customers, from an early stage, in your innovation efforts.

Focusing on the customer (for real)

It’s a rare company these days that doesn’t claim to put its customers first. It’s also a rare company that doesn’t do market research. But what is exceptional is a company with a framework to channel innovative energies so that they solve customer pain points and result in a commercial outcome the market will pay for.

Getting employees to innovate products and services that improve the performance of your business requires a structure that involves customers, from an early stage, in your innovation efforts.

Building this framework does not mean stifling creative energies under a heavy layer of bureaucracy. Rather, it means making sure that the innovation responds to customer needs and has the flexibility to evolve as you better understand those needs.

For instance, one of the projects I lead at PwC, the Global Innovation Challenge, could be a model for your organization. Invite employees from around your network, from all disciplines, to submit early-stage, technology-enabled business solutions. But require that before a team can enter the contest, it must include examples of marketplace interest — not just an explanation of how (and how soon) the project will meet specific client needs, but also feedback from potential or actual clients on a prototype or pilot.

Internal incubators are also ways you can create ongoing feedback loops with the marketplace. Multiple customer and third-party interviews and growing signs of market interest are required for a project to receive and keep funding from these groups. As you assess the customers’ feedback, the teams make changes in line with the customers’ needs — and if the market response isn’t promising, you pull the plug.

Four steps to make customers your innovation partners

No part of this process is improvised: Criteria and milestones are critical, including a framework that ensures that the customers are guiding the innovation. To take just one example, before PwC New Ventures, an internal software-as-a-service incubator, releases the first round of funding for a project, it needs to see at least 20 interviews with customers. Indeed, many projects have more than 100 interviews over the development period.

Here are some ideas to get that innovation-guiding framework started:

1. Get specific. It’s not enough to say “talk to customers” or “research the market.” Set specific criteria for the quantity and quality of customer interviews.

2. Set milestones. Even after you’ve made the decision to invest in an innovative project, continue to check not just technical progress, but also customer feedback, on a regular basis.

3. Offer expert guidance. Brilliant technical minds aren’t always brilliant at interacting with customers. Assign a person or team to train technical people on customer outreach, and to do the outreach directly when needed.

4. Set procedures to react. Ensure that the team has the time and the processes to reflect on market feedback and adjust design appropriately. Be ready, if the feedback is poor, to terminate the project and reallocate resources.

What happens when you listen

A team at PwC recently developed a new tool for franchise owners designed to quickly, easily, and digitally market their stores. The team planned to make this digital platform the core feature of a new product.

Following our framework — and our core principle of customer-driven innovation — PwC team members reached out to customers. Listening to the franchise owners, the team learned that one of their top priorities was to support their customers, the franchisees. So the team members went back to work, adding components that the owners could use to help franchisees reach their end-users. The resulting product that was introduced to the marketplace attempted to solve problems for our clients while enabling them to solve problems for their clients.

The result of listening with empathy and emotional intelligence is that you will be able to not just mostly fulfill a customer’s needs but truly fulfill them, which is usually the difference between that customer ultimately buying or not buying your product.

Another big benefit of really listening is stronger customer relationships. After frequent interactions with your design teams to ensure that the final product will meet your customers’ needs, these customers start to view your people as partners and friends. And frequently, customers discover needs — which your new product or service can meet — that they didn’t even know they had.

If your innovation efforts are to truly add value to your business, customer-centricity will have to be more than a motto. It will have to be a framework to turn your customers into your innovation partners. The insights they bring will make all the difference in ensuring that the product not only solves their problems, but also provides an exceptional experience they’ll keep coming back for.

Vicki Huff By: Vicki Huff

Source: Why your customers should be central to your innovation efforts

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