Retail financiers battle to streamline

30 Aug 2005

Management in Ireland’s retail banks and insurance firms are under pressure to streamline their core businesses to achieve competitive advantage in what is increasingly a multi-channel environment, a survey suggests.

As banking and insurance companies strive to push customers away from the branches and on to other channels, such as telephone and the internet, a survey from Galway-based process engineering experts Graham Technology reveals that the majority finance firms need to streamline their core business processes in order gain competitive advantage.

The survey of more than 30 of the top retail financial services firms indicates that the focus of the next 12 months will be on seeking to maximise the efficiencies to be gained from multi-channel capabilities by addressing the process flows of a variety of business operations.

The managing director of Graham Technology Ireland, Fiona Graham, commented: “These results reveal how the retail financial services sector are keen to move beyond simply providing multi-channel services to their customers, to examining their core processes to provide the most efficient service.

“This new level of efficiency, powered through process excellence can be a reality, bringing these institutions to a new utopia for the sector of lower cost to serve, single view of the customer and a consistency of service across all channels for the customer,” she said.

The research revealed 64pc of respondents are confident that increased efficiencies can be realised, in particular cost savings through streamlining core business processes.

In accordance with research conducted by Graham Technology last year, the business challenges of “customer acquisition” and “increasing average revenue per customer” continue to rank highly as important process improvement issues with firms.

Furthermore, two thirds of respondents again rated the retention of customers as the most important issue to be resolved in the short term.

More than three quarters of respondents were less than convinced that the processes they run over their contact channels provide the organisation with maximum benefit through increased sales, reduce costs and present their customers with maximum choice and consistency of service.

The research also indicates financial firms are finding their existing systems and processes are limiting their ability to provide knowledge on their network.

The results point to a change in focus for the Irish financial services sector, away from changing the distribution channels to a focus on examination of the core processes behind their operations, with more companies taking on external experts to help them gain real competitive advantage.

By John Kennedy