Majority of financial services reps rate their employee systems ‘clunky’, though enhanced employee experiences a key priority – FST poll

Industry Poll Survey FST

A majority of Australia’s financial services are still struggling to deliver optimal systems to support their staff, rating their existing back-end operations “clunky”, though efforts are being made to simplify processes and boost employee efficiency, results from a live industry survey by FST Media have revealed.

Fewer than 8 per cent rated their employee operations as “excellent and seamless”, according to a live poll of delegates at the recent Future of Financial Services, Melbourne virtual conference. However, a significant one in three industry participants considered their systems up to par – though, they note, with some room for improvement.

Nevertheless, there now appears an overwhelming will within the industry to prioritise the enhancement of staff-operated systems, bringing them into line with steady advances made in front-end customer service platforms – with employee systems in recent years taking a back seat to innovations in customer service channels.

Delegates expressed near-universal acknowledgement – upwards of 97 per cent – that employee experiences should rank as highly as front-line customer experiences. This may be a tacit concession of the industry’s move to re-order their innovation priorities, understanding that employee wellbeing also has a significant impact not only on how customers are served by staff, but also how digitalised customer services are developed.

At the customer end, however, the push to personalise services remains a foremost goal across the industry, with 90 per cent of delegates rating it as a core outcome of – either “extremely” or “very important” to – their overall customer experience strategy.

An overwhelming 67 per cent of delegates see personalisation as key to enabling superior customer experiences, while a further 32 per cent – perhaps spurred by the progressive rollout of Open Banking – see it as necessary to further tailoring products and services for customers.

Looking to trends ahead, digitalisation of the workplace stands as a foremost priority for Australia’s financial services industry, rated by a plurality (35 per cent) of delegates as a core focus ahead for their businesses, while machine learning (29 per cent) and natural language processing (20 per cent) are also seen as “high priority trends” to tap into.

Edge computing (4 per cent) and internet of behaviour (6 per cent) – that is, utilised aggregated data from multiple inputs to piece together behavioural trends among customers – were less fancied among voting delegates.

Curiously, while digitisation has been an overriding goal for the entire financial services industry, it appears even digital evangelists can stray, appearing to not always practice what they preach. Around half of those surveyed revealed they still make ready use of their physical credit cards over a ‘smart device’ solution, such as their phones or smartwatches.

The Covid pivot

The rapid pivot to remote working, or work from home, over the last 18 months has posed challenges for a considerable number of organisations, with at least half of those surveyed noting that it has “significantly” impacted their teams.

Yet, this impact has not necessarily been “detrimental” to their teams, delegates acknowledged, with a little over half (54 per cent) considering the process a net positive for their businesses.

More than two out of three (38 per cent) businesses noted they were largely unimpacted by the lockdown-forced shift to WFH, able to respond “quickly” and “overcome issues” with staff being off-site.

With fewer than one in 10 businesses stating they were already well provisioned for a widescale remote working capability pre-pandemic, the rapid shift – in many cases completed within weeks or even days – it appears the vast majority of businesses were required to engage in a significant digital pivot to enable work from home capability.

More than 1050 delegates registered to attend the Future of Financial Services Melbourneheld across the 5th and 6th of October, with senior leaders from across technology, digital, data, design, risk and transformation functions, among others.