Beware of the Dancing Bear

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Everyone is looking to ‘digital’ experience as being the way forward in business. It isn’t on its own, digital is ‘an ingredient in the pie and not the pie’.

In banking, ‘going digital’ will help reduce overheads, cut headcount and increase profits. Get digital right and you will win, get it wrong and you will end up pouring investment into a bottomless pit and lose customers by the thousands. In this article, I will discuss why it’s important to ‘Beware of the Dancing Bear’.

In banking, ‘going digital’ will help reduce overheads, cut headcount and increase profits. Get digital right and you will win, get it wrong and you will end up pouring investment into a bottomless pit and lose customers by the thousands.

Across the world, there is an insatiable drive to be first at everything – the biggest, the longest, the largest, the tallest… those of us who work in this industry hear it every day, but is that drive creating the first casualties of the digital banking era? I believe so.

In the past couple of weeks, I was invited to visit a leading Bank’s branch of the future. A digital masterpiece – that’s how it was billed. To cut a long story short it was awful. Why? Because they had created a ‘Dancing Bear’. A temple of futuristic technology and white shiny surfaces and large touch screens that had:

– no soul

– no usability consideration

– no attention to the customer journey

– no focus on the simple retail principle of learn, teach and sell

– concentrated on technology first without considering an integrated customer experience

Like so many so called ‘Digital Branches’, this branch was empty and the concept will fail regardless of how many advertising dollars are spent trying to convince customers that it is the future of banking.

The reality is, this kind of experience is not the future. It is more reminiscent of a dental surgery than a friendly, approachable lifestyle enabled bank – a 1970’s sci-fi view of the future that exists only in the realm of fantasy or Times Square of flashing lights and screens that do not engage customers and leave businesses with the mammoth task to update content on a regular basis.

Banks must ask themselves some serious questions if they are going to win in the future. If you, as a bank CEO are going to invest in technology, before doing so, please ask yourself:

– ‘Why?’

– What are the business benefits?

– Will my customers want to use this?

– Would I use this?

– Is my solution simple and easy to understand?

– Is there an integrated experience with all other elements of my brand including the physical channels?

– What can I do by using digital to form a closer, more personal and relevant relationship with my customers – so it’s hard for them to leave me?

– Most of all, ask yourself ‘Am I creating a Dancing Bear?’

So what is a Dancing Bear?…

Have you ever seen a Dancing Bear?

At first, you look at it and think… wow, that’s cool. Yet the more you look at it, the more you think… what’s the point!

Please remember this. Avoid creating Digital Dancing Bears in the form of technology that delivers little, or no benefit to your customers, or business, costs you a fortune, and serves only to chase the latest fashion or fad. You’ll thank me for it.

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