The global banking industry has undergone a well documented battering in recent times. Regulators are now driving change in the sector, however the industry itself is keen to address the fallout from their role in the downturn, and re-focus on “putting customers first”.

In its heyday banking set the bar in terms of customer service through innovations such as ATMs, branch networks, personal bank managers and of course multi-channel banking. These were the pre-cursors of service delivery for most non-banking businesses at the time. In the last boom era however, innovation in customer service hasn’t really been a priority for banks. That of course, has now all changed.

In these more challenging times of low growth, change in the banking sector is being driven by the most basic instinct of survival and the need to create stable and sustainable business models. Banks are acutely aware that serving the needs of the customer must be brought back in front and centre and they are looking to customer service innovations to grow and retain business. As examples, in the last year alone we’ve seen:

  • Mobile payments and Pingit
  • Emergency cash withdrawal via mobile
  • Numerous cashless pilots
  • Programmes to make account switching easier
  • Mobile banking app stores and payments
  • Growth of UK only call centres

Most recently there has been a drive towards Straight Through Processing (STP) to transform customer service interactions. STP replaces physical and paper-based activities with digital ones so that customers can seamlessly complete any transaction in a single channel, without manual intervention. For one of our clients Straight Through Processing has already reduced account opening times from approximately 28 days to 24 hours.

So is this recent level of innovation enough to set the bar for all businesses once again? Perhaps not just yet, however do keep an eye on what banks are doing around customer service – the above areas are already creating ripples beyond financial services.