Customer Service in the Financial Service - Barclays

Posted: 11/20/2014

Watch our interview with Anne Grim, Managing Director and the Global Head of Customer Experience for Barclays, at Customer Experience Exchange for Financial Services, where she talks about customer service for the financial services in detail.

Welcome, Anne Grim, to the Customer Experience for Financial Services Exchange. Youã??re the Managing Director and the Global Head of Customer Experience for Barclays Wealth and the Investment Management side of things. Can you please start by telling me a little bit about what you do in your role within Barclays?

As Head of the Global Client Experience at Barclays for Wealth and Investment Management, Iã??m responsible for defining the strategy and the approach that we take to create a consistent experience globally. We have divisions of our private bank that are located around the world. We also have a stockbroker business, we have an international bank, an intermediaries bank, so corporate for offshore banking. So a variety of different client segments, but with the commonality that weã??re helping advise clients on how to really achieve their financial ambitions through smart investment.

As I understand it, you lead all of the Barclays wealth global services and client experience. How do you go about managing a strategy to ensure that the customer experience is maintained at that level of excellence throughout all of the businesses?

In thinking about the consistency of the strategy across Barclays, I look at the end-to-end, what we call the service profit chain. So looking at the linkage between really loyal clients who are going to recommend us to their family, friends and colleagues, and give us greater share of wallet, more likely to stay with us, and what really drives that kind of loyalty, because thatã??s, really, an emotional linkage.

So we take what those inputs are, which are basic satisfaction with our services in the end-to-end; lot of what we do from a strategic perspective is ensure that those pieces are working well. So new processes, new capabilities to ensure that weã??re addressing any dissatisfiers, and we hear those through the voice of the client, as well as through the voice of our employees, in our satisfaction surveys.

But the one thing that really is one of the biggest distinguishing factors, the differentiators, is, really, that interaction with our employees and the passion and the advocacy that they bring about Barclays. Their pride in Barclays as an organisation comes across so that when weã??re meeting their basic financial needs, going in and building more of a trusted relationship is a by-product of that advocacy.

So what we work on, and from a consistency perspective, is, really, their consistency from an employee perspective of understanding what the standards are, ensuring that they understand that they have ownership for ensuring that the clientsã?? transactions, questions, advice, are executed well. And that is, really, what creates a lot of that global consistency.

As Iã??m sure you are keenly aware, customer service is now a really important and key differentiator within the financial services sector. Can you give me a couple of examples of what Barclays has done to ensure that you are maintained as a global leader within customer experience?

Going back to the linkage between the employees and that ultimate customer loyalty or client loyalty, I think one of the key things that we focused on initially was really building that culture, the culture of pride in the organisation, understanding that we have a consistent set of values, that those values translate into certain behaviours, and the way that we operate with clients. So establishing that environment for success, I think, was one of the pre-requisites.

But then creating a comprehensive listening between listening to what our clients are saying and listening to what our employees are saying, and looking at where are some of the common both pain points and moments of delight, and looking at how do we expand on those. So things likeã?¦ one of the big pain points was as clients call in, we need to ensure, for their security, for the security of their assets, who they are.

But, historically, we would have had to put the clients through a third degree of, okay, so your name, your motherã??s maiden name, and you go down the whole list of ID&V questions, and itã??s really painful. So when youã??re trying to create this environment where weã??re demonstrating to clients that we know you and we understand you, to start out with those questions feels kind of disconnected. And it felt that way to clients and it felt that way to employees, so it was a mutual frustration.

So we put in place something about a year and a half ago ã?? Voice Biometrics ã?? which captures a voice print of the client, they are enrolled, and then every time they call, the software automatically goes through and does all of the comparisons and does the authentication. So it saves a significant amount of time, but it allows the interaction between our colleagues and the client to be much more natural and realistic. So thatã??s something that weã??ve won numerous industry awards in and our being recognised as addressing that pain point. So thatã??s an example.

Moving beyond some of the basics, like basic security, to what really constitutes a trusted advisor, is that understanding of the client. So one of the things that Barclays has developed is a financial personality assessment which does a real deep dive into the drivers and what motivates an individual from an investment perspective. What is their market composure, so when things are going awry in the market and maybe very volatile, how are they going to react? What degree of expertise do they feel that they have? What is their risk appetite?

So it looks at multiple dimensions of that individualã??s financial personality assessment. And then, based on that, weã??ll come up with an asset allocation that will both meet their financial needs as well as meet their personality and their investing personality. So that is another example of something that weã??ve done thatã??s won awards and a lot of recognition in the industry as being cutting edge.

Not only is customer service absolutely key, but weã??re now moving towards a much more digital world both in personal life and in business. How is Barclays adapting to this every-growing digitalisation of our world?

One of the benefits of being a part of a larger organisation such as Barclays - and we've got 150,000 employees globally ã?? is that there is innovation going on around the company. So, from a wealth and investment management perspective, we're able to leverage some of the investments and innovation that are occurring in our retail bank, in particular, for the mobile and digital capabilities. So some of the things that they have developed that are, again, being acknowledged as being world-class are things like in their mobile banking, the PINsentry capability.

So, again, getting to the security point to ensure that our customers are confident in their financial transactions online and in mobile. Ping It which allows for person-to-person payments with the personalisation of your photo and things like that, so it allows for a much greater sense of access, I guess, and inter-personal payments. And that capability is one thatã??s being extended out in looking at how do you do that ã?? provide that capability for some of our younger customers or our customersã?? children to enable them to make those payments.

So those are a couple of the examples, but, with the capabilities in our mobile banking, we intend, from a wealth management perspective, to utilise those for our core banking proposition. And then weã??ll focus more of our innovation in the investment space.

In what areas would you say that Barclays is actually leading in the digital and mobile world?

There are some things that are going on that, again, leverage some work thatã??s being done elsewhere in Barclays, but put a spin on it from a wealth and investment management perspective; so our onboarding is a good example. So, traditionally, onboarding and wealth management, we have to really ensure that you do know your client or your customer, and you are capturing all the data. But it usually would involve a lot of paper, so we need a certified copy of your passport, we need copies of certain statements, and things like that.

Weã??ve developed a new onboarding capability which enables us to capture images of those through an iPad and then go out and electronically verify all of the information. So it greatly accelerates the speed in which we can do all of that, but it also makes it a much easier, again, dialogue between the colleagues and our clients, and will enable the clients to self-service as well.

So the electronic verification, integration of third party information, looking at the relationship across Barclays, and bringing that all together into one clean onboarding solution thatã??s very fast is a great step forward. And thatã??s a major pain point, actually, in wealth management overall.

Are there any areas that you feel were more challenging in terms of becoming more digital, and, if there were, what strategies did you use to overcome these challenges?

I think some of the challenges, actually, to entering into the digital space have been internal ones because, historically, our private bankers have been very relationship-oriented, so everything is about them. And our wealthy clients wouldnã??t ever go online - theyã??re they only people, actually, that donã??t - so they wouldnã??t be interested in self-servicing and they wouldnã??t be interested in some of the online capabilities. So convincing our internal bankers of the appetite, and piloting that successfully with our clients, was probably more of a challenge than actually launching it with our clients, because it was really changing the dynamic of what they provide as a core service. So that was an unexpected challenge, I guess.

And how did you overcome that?

The way to overcome it was, really, trying it out, doing it on a test basis, demonstrating that the clients were open to this, capturing their feedback. And, also, making sure that the bankers were comfortable with the capabilities so that they could knowledgeably explain them and highlight some of the benefits to their clients.

In your presentation, you were touching upon what the key elements to that Holy Grail of customer experience is. Do you think such a thing exists, and, if so, what are the key elements that make up this Holy Grail?

Itã??s funny because you think, okay, is there a magic formula, and, if not, why donã??t we all have it down pat? I donã??t know that there is one magic formula. I do think that getting back to some of the basics of treating individuals as individuals, demonstrating that we know them, and we can demonstrate that we know them by utilising information that we have, we can demonstrate that we know what types of transactions theyã??ve typically done; you can demonstrate that in a number of ways.

Amazonã??s been used as an example of, kind of, best in class in some of the customer experience, but I think their motto is, essentially, taking what was really valuable about that inter-personal sales relationship, so when you went to your corner store, that individual knew you and they knew which books you liked. And they would proactively recommend things that they knew would be appealing to you. Essentially, theyã??ve digitised that experience.

So I think that is a piece of it ã?? demonstrating to the clients that we do know them, that we do understand their needs, so the listening piece, the feedback loops, all of those things are really important. Having a role or a voice in helping determine the future direction is another great example of one of the components of the Holy Grail. But acknowledging and rewarding clients, as well, in making sure that they recognise that theyã??re not just a number, that they are an individual, and that weã??re rewarding that kind of a relationship.

And I think we build on that by, first off, being brilliant at the basics. So get it right first time, every time. Take ownership for getting it right first time, every time, from an employee perspective. And then, in wealth management, building upon that, we want to be a trusted adviser to the clients, so taking it to the next level of understanding their needs, personalising and tailoring our products and services to meet those needs.

And then, again, in wealth management, the third component, I would say, is around teaching, educating them. So educating them about some of the specifics of different investment products, but also helping gain their confidence in our advice, but also their self-confidence so that theyã??re better able to make decisions going forward. So itã??s that hierarchy of needs that, for us, constitutes a Holy Grail of, really, the brilliant at the basics, and tailoring to build that trust, and then, finally, educating to create that confidence; and that will create a good, trusted relationship.

So, looking forward to 2014 and beyond, what do you think are the key elements, and whatã??s going to be in the forefront of the customer experience agenda; and what are Barclays doing to prepare for this?

Well, for us, part of our challenge is that we have clients that typically have a higher net worth, so we need to figure out a way that we can personalise that relationship and the interaction with them, but do it cost-effectively. So weã??ve got, I think, probably like many financial institutions, that cost challenge to make sure that weã??re doing things as efficiently and effectively as possible. So streamlining a lot of the underlying foundational pieces while building in the things that are really value-adds.

So, for us, that is a lot of process improvement, investing in a lot of the core infrastructure for the basics. But then itã??s much more of a skills-based working with our bankers and all of our client-facing employees to ensure that thereã??s a consistency in the messages. And then taking our digital investments and having those mirror that same type of understanding of the client and interaction with a personalisation point. I think those are the basic components for 2014 and beyond.

If you had to give three pieces of advice to one of your customer experience counterparts that wants to become more digital and wants to almost do a similar transition that Barclays has done, what would they be?

I would say one piece would be: Steal with pride. So while itã??s great to be out there and be first, if you have other elements of your bank that are doing something really great, the best way to learn about it is to really work with them and take some of those capabilities, so, as I had said earlier, thatã??s one of the benefits of being part of a big organisation is that you can utilise some of that. So I think that would be one.

The personalisation, so understanding how clients are using different channels, what they use it for, encouraging that, incentivising it, and, wherever possible, creating relevance in the interaction, I think, would be the second.

And then, as we heard in the conference, I think owning the conversation. So helping facilitate in creating a network so that clients become our advocates to each other, rather than us putting out our marketing message, having them market our message to their peers is, I think, a great learning.

Thank you very much, Anne, for joining us at the Customer Experience Exchange for Financial Services, and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Thank you.