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DBS Bank’s Digital Success: 5 Leading Strategies American Banks Should Adopt

DBS Bank has been crowned 2018’s “Best Bank in the World”. The road to winning such a title is not an easy one. “Being a ‘Best Bank’ Means Having the ‘Best Overall Experience’”, writes Jim Marous, the co-publisher of The Financial Brand.

DBS Bank was one of the worst digital banks before 2009, and people actually referred to it as the “Damn Bloody Slow” Bank. But all this changed when they brought in Paul Cobban, who is now the Chief Operating Officer for DBS Bank’s Technology and Operations. In the first 6 months, he tried to figure out the “Asianness” that was going to be the approach for the Asian People (the target audience).  An approach that needs to be adopted by American Banks. Cobban’s strategy was going all digital. From banking to customer relationship management, DBS Bank is maximizing the digital market to its advantage and becoming better every day. Even though American Banks are making an equally significant mark in the finance world, DBS Bank is leading due to the following strategies, which I believe should be adopted by the American Banks:

 

1- Embracing Digitization: The Earlier the Better.

In the category of World’s Best Banks Awards 2018, “Banks that were singled out in the 14 global and seven regional categories expressed the goal of digitizing in order to improve the customer experience…banks need to focus on how to build business and preserve relationships in an online environment.” – Gordon Platt

Although it is no surprise nowadays that going digital is the only option available for every organization. The key is to embrace the trend as early as possible. DBS Bank went digital with their banking services back in 2009 and has given itself a 10 Year margin to improve their services for their customers. A small example is with the Mobile Application that helps customers with their banking needs. DBS Bank launched its first digital banking app back in 2016, while the Bank of America, who won the “North American Regional Best Bank 2018” award, launched it in 2018. In a universe, where the philosophy of “Time is Money” is rooted in the depth of the business industry, a 2-year margin has put DBS Bank far ahead in their approach to attain better business revenues. Although both apps have more than 1 million users across Android and iOS platforms, DBS Bank takes the cake considering the population difference of both countries.

Another important step that DBS Bank keeps on taking is to minimize the efforts in the digitization of its services. Previously, DBS Bank was offering different services through different apps that required setting up different logins each time. But now DBS Bank has updated its digital processes and it takes only 90 seconds to open up an e-account through their application, and only one account is required across all apps.

 

2- The Mind Wants What it Wants – And it Wants Satisfaction: DBS Bank’s Approach to Behavior Psychology

According to EY’s Consumer Behavior Case Study, bank’s have “traditionally relied on readily available customer data, such as age and wealth, to predict customer preferences, develop customer propositions and tailor service models”. Such strategies are considered to be poor representatives and predictors of customer’s actual behaviors. A better strategy, according to the study, is that there needs to be a combination of “financial savviness (their level of understanding of and comfort with financial products) and digital savviness (their level of experience and comfort with online and mobile digital interfaces”. It is also mentioned in the study that36% of customers are not digital savvy and financial savvy, while only 16% are comfortable with their skill knowledge of both fields. The latter figure is alarming, and Banks need to provide the relevant skills and knowledge to their customers.

DBS Bank is making itself invisible by opting the digital route for their services, which helps them to open new virtual branches without incurring heavy costs that physical branches create. “DBS digibank, in fact, requires just a fifth of the resources of a traditional bank set-up”. In order to minimize the gap of“digital knowledge” and “financial knowledge” in their customers, DBS Bank is trying to make both their services as easy to understand as possible. Engaging the customers with their AI-driven virtual assistants has become easier than ever. “Currently, the virtual assistant is able to handle over 80% of all customer requests without human intervention. Less than 20% of customer requests go to live chat sessions”. These processes give the customers a detailed insight into what they need to do in order to make their banking journey seamless.

3- Transforming from within: Saving Time and Energy

Cobban’s inclusion of the DBS team made a significant impact on how the internal decisions are now being taken. Previously, every decision had to be approved from top management, and most of the times, certain approvals were held back due to human errors in time management. This problem was solved by changing these “Blockers” to “Enablers” (terms that the DBS team came up with). This was done by holding weekly meetings, where all the decision makers and executors met together and the latter presented their ideas in order to approve the tasks/decisions without having to constantly ask for the former’s approvals. Cobban says that with this strategy “99% of the time they get a yes answer on the spot.” This decision making is certainly crucial, as it leads to saving time not just on an employee’s side, but also at the end of a customer. This helps in raising customer experience ratings. On the contrary, according to Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, “A change in customer experience ratings for a multichannel bank leaves $124 million on the table for every 1-point decline in its CX Index score”

 

4- Establishing the Innovation Culture

Constant innovation is key that keeps a Bank ahead of its competitors. Although every Bank knows this strategy, not everyone executes it properly. Cobban realized that to drive innovation within DBS Bank, he had to change the culture. “We recognized innovation was all about culture and behavior,” he says. “So we took our leaders and put them in ‘hackathons’ with startups. Hackathons replaced the executive training budget”. Cobban’s approach to innovation was quite positively unconventional. Rather than telling his team to “innovate”, he told his team to “teach” the rest of the organization how to innovate. This culture established a unique harmony across the organization’s departments.

 

5- Using CX Analytics Tools to Maximize Customer Engagement

A unique strategy employed by DBS Bank is to develop and use various CX Analytics Tools over the years. From their loan making processes to increase their customer engagement, DBS Bank has tried to maximize their use of such tools and platforms to enhance each segment of their banking services. For example, back in 2011, by using their interaction analytics, they had improved their customer engagement and satisfaction by minimizing the average 15 second response time down to 12. DBS Bank and many American Banks can also increase their customer satisfaction and engagement to its full potential by choosing Antlerea leading CRM Platform that engages, enhances, analyzes and improves Customer Experience and Satisfaction.DBS Bank does cash in on all opportunities to use such tools and platforms to maximize their own benefit and to improve their customer loyalty.

Ultimately, it is about cashing in the right opportunities, executing them in the right places, and at the right times. DBS Bank’s strategies have become models to be followed, not to the letter of course. American Banks need to pick certain aspects from such leading models and apply them how they think is best. At the end of the day, the “Customer is King” and should be the central focus of each bank.

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