Is Your Bank Your Best Friend?

Bhavya Kamaraj

My husband and I recently relocated from South Africa to Australia for a job with SAP Australia, a process that led to some interesting experiences. Before we moved, we researched everything we needed to start a comfortable life in Melbourne – housing, people we may know, a mobile service provider, and, of course, a banking partner.

To our surprise, setting up our bank accounts was the easiest of them all. One of the four large banks in Australia provided the most pleasing onboarding experience before we even landed in Melbourne. They seemed as excited to work with us as my best friend would be if I was visiting her.

The bank assisted us not only with the banking processes – setting up accounts, arranging for banking cards, etc. – but also provided essential information, including topics related to non-financial services. In fact, our bank was the first friend we made in Melbourne, even before landing in the city.

That’s when I realized that banks have indeed reconsidered the customer-engagement process. In fact, banks are seriously considering ways to become their customers’ best friends. I started thinking about the other things my bank should do to become my best friend forever (BFF).

I asked myself, what are the characteristics that make my BFF, Tina, my best friend?

  • Tina is available for me at all times.
  • Tina stops me from drinking excessive beer.
  • Tina knows everything about me.
  • Tina connects me with people in her network.
  • Tina understands me and knows what I really need.
  • Tina predicts my moves and is always prepared with her response
  • Tina gives me the best advice.

I then did a word swapping exercise replacing Tina’s name with “my bank.”

  • Tina My bank is available for me at all times.
  • Tina My bank stops me from drinking excessive beer.
  • Tina My bank knows everything about me.
  • Tina My bank connects me with the best in its network.
  • Tina My bank understands me and knows what I really need.
  • Tina My bank predicts my moves and is always prepared with its response.
  • Tina My bank gives me the best advice.

Yes, if a bank can do these things, then it could become my BFF. Just like technology brings friends together through WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, etc., humanizing technology can help banks get closer to their customers.

  • Always being there for customers – Customers want banks to initiate interaction as opposed to always doing it themselves. Customers also want to receive personalized services with a human touch for complex needs, even remotely. This requires machine learning tools and algorithms to dissect customer data and respond with relevant products, information, and advice. Fintechs such as Trussle and Habito in the UK are using machine learning algorithms to help customers find the best mortgage product and provide personal financial advice.
  • Be a good listener and interpreter – Banks have more information about their customers than any other entity. For example, if you visit a specific pub regularly, the bank has enormous information based on all the touch-points – distance from your residence, location of the pub, time spent at the pub , amount spend in the pub, money spent by similar customers, information to manage your pub expenses based on your liabilities, etc. This may even be more information than you know about yourself. Banks can leverage this information to treat every customer as a distinct segment. A real-world example is, through real-time insights and data analytics, mBank in Poland offers personalized products for its 5.5 million customers.
  • Make banking fun – For consumers, banking is an anytime, anywhere, anyhow function powered by mobile applications, social media, online tools, and smart branches. To deliver this, banks should operate with an every time, everywhere, every way model. Artificial intelligence, robotics, and smart branches will not only transform the way customers engage with banks, but also outline the operating model for digital banks. Emirates NDB has designed the Future Banking Lab with an augmented reality solution. This “fun” way of banking has resulted in customer acquisition growth and increased customer enticement.

The SAP Leonardo platform, a digital innovation system that enables an organization to innovate at scale to confidently redefine its business, enables banks to innovate and become their customers’ BFFs. To learn more, please visit sap.com/Australia/banking


Bhavya Kamaraj

About Bhavya Kamaraj

Bhavya Kamaraj is an Industry Value Advisor for SAP ANZ. She has over 6.5 years of work experience in Financial Services - as a Developer, Techno-Functional Banking Consultant and Industry Value Advisor. During this tenure in the Industry, she have gained rich experience in SAP Development, SAP Consulting, Management Consulting, Value Advisory, Enterprise Architecture, Design Thinking and Business Development.