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Executive Q&A

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Improving the Customer Experience

Michael Charest
VP of Financial Services, Insurance and Healthcare
GMC Software Technology

Consumer adoption of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets has exploded and this growth has significantly impacted how financial services firms interact with their customers. Michael Charest, VP of Financial Services, Insurance and Healthcare, GMC Software Technology, spoke with FSOkx about changing customer expectations and how financial services firms can take an evolutionary approach to improving customers’ communications experience despite an environment of legacy and siloed systems.

FSOkx: What is the impact of mobile devices on financial services firms?

Michael Charest, VP of Financial Services, Insurance and Healthcare, GMC Software Technology: Mobility is disruptive to the entire financial services industry because it changes the way in which customers interact with financial services firms and what they expect from these interactions. In fact, the more time customers spend using mobile devices, the higher their expectations for immediacy and interactivity become.

The benchmark for a good customer experience is no longer another financial services firm. Consumers expect their experience with a financial services firm to be equal or even better than well-known brands such as Apple or Southwest Airlines or Amazon. Companies that deliver a less-than-stellar consumer experience will find that their customers will move to a competitor that offers immediate communications and personalized service.

FSOkx: Any other challenges due to technology?

Charest: The sheer size of many financial services firms makes it challenging just to react to how fast technology is changing. Combine the rate of technology change with other factors such as political, economic, and social changes and the challenge is multiplied. A few financial services firms have been able to react to changing markets, but most have been unable to achieve that flexibility.

FSOkx: How can financial services firms improve the customer communications experience?

Charest: Customer experience is an aggregate of all customer interactions. To improve the experience, financial services firms must carefully coordinate their communication processes. A customer communications management (CCM) platform provides a more modern method to view customers across product lines, business units, and even across channel boundaries. It allows firms to provide more relevant and timely communications with customers.

A CCM platform also allows for more real-time communications with customers and gives the firm the flexibility to respond to market conditions, consumer preferences, and technology disruption.

FSOkx: How can financial services firms get a comprehensive picture of a customer?

Charest: It’s definitely a challenge. I think financial services firms would agree that a comprehensive view of a customer’s relationship is important, but even more important is having a meaningful engagement with the customer. Firms are finding that their legacy systems and processes are limiting their ability to effectively engage with their customers.

A customer communications management platform is an effective solution for overcoming the limitations of legacy and siloed systems and really improves the overall customer experience. It’s about breaking down internal barriers and enabling financial services firms to be more flexible in how they engage with their customers. For example, this is an important business driver and enabler for accelerating customer adoption across a mobile channel, particularly in testing new acquisition campaigns.

FSOkx: What is the benefit of dynamic communications?

Charest: For the past 10 years, financial services firms have depended upon batch communications. In recent years, firms improved communications with real-time communications.

The next step is dynamic communications in which firms configure a customer communications management system to build applications that can interact directly with the customer based on their preferences. We believe that delivering timely and relevant information to customers, whether through self-service or interacting with a call center, will help financial services firms create even more powerful customer experiences.

FSOkx: How can financial services firms achieve operational efficiency in customer communications yet still meet demands for personalized and real-time communications?

Charest: To meet future communication challenges, financial services firms must modernize their communication management platforms. We typically see firms approach modernization in one of two ways. The first is the revolutionary approach: A full migration or replacement of core systems and customer communications processes. For many financial services firms, this approach is high risk/high reward since it’s time consuming, costly, and disruptive.

The second approach is evolutionary: The firm mines and extracts required customer data and content and uses it within a modern communications management platform while leaving the legacy core systems in place. This approach allows financial services firms to deliver more value quickly and at a fraction of the cost.

FSOkx: What’s the best approach?

Charest: Both, actually. Firms select the approach based on business requirements and customer engagement models. Some business units have a compelling business case for a core system replacement while other business units are reluctant to make that investment. These business units can adopt a more evolutionary approach that allows them to still get at the data and content to improve the customer experience.

FSOkx: What are some initial steps firms can take to improve customer communications?

Charest: I recommend a four-step approach to get started. First, implement a customer communications management platform that combines all customer touch points. This allows firms to leverage evolving customer preferences while reducing operational costs and yet drive more interactive and real-time customer communications.

Second, use this platform to simplify customer contact both internally and in external customer communications and engagement. Simplification is a powerful differentiator in an increasingly commoditized market.

Third, determine which core systems can be repurposed and which should be replaced.

Lastly, close the loop by measuring the impact of the customer communications strategy.

About GMC Software Technology

GMC Software Technology delivers the best-of-breed solution with unrivalled experience in the field of Customer Communications Management (CCM). Our solution inspires businesses and enterprises to take customer communications to a whole new level and benefit from every conversation. For more information contact





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