Bank 2.0 – High-level Review

bank 2.0

Not long ago I discovered my current client had a small library. The above, Bank 2.0 by Brett King, caught my attention. From memory it had something to do with the ‘2.0’ and my assumption that it had something to do with technology. The cover is also very inviting.

Firstly it’s important to note that this book was published back in 2010. While that doesn’t sound like a long time ago, both in the world of finance and technology a great deal has changed in the last 5 years. That’s not to say that the book is not worth reading. All it does is add a different dimension for the reader – How many of Brett’s predictions have come true, or likely will with the knowledge that 5 more years can bring.

When I first looked at some of the book’s early reviews I noticed a sentiment of controversy. These days I don’t believe that would be the case, but thinking about banking back in late naughties (2000’s) you can see how some of what Brett says in the book could be taken as controversial. It’s also important to keep in mind that Brett would have been writing this during and just post the Global Financial Crisis; certainly a pressure cooker of a time in the industry.

I’ve been working in finance for the majority of the last 5 years, at my current client, who, interestingly enough, get a mention in the book. Perhaps that’s why there are a few copies in the client’s library?! I can tell the book has been read by some in decision making positions, because a lot of what has been happening with my client’s business and IT is suggested in the book. I think this help me a great deal while reading the book as I could relate to much of the terminology and the processes/methodologies that are called out within it. For someone who has not worked in finance the read is still a good one, as Brett does well to explain financial concepts where required.

The book is broken up into 3 larger parts:

Part 1 – Changes in Customer Behaviour

  • What the Internet and “CrackBerry” Have Taught Customers
  • Measuring the Customer Experience

Part 2 – Fixing the Broken Bits – Channel Improvement

  • Rebuilding the Branch One Customer at a Time
  • Please Hang Up and Try Again – Call Center’s and IVRs
  • Web – More Than 10 Years Old … and Still Broken
  • Mobile – The New Internet and Death of Cash
  • ATM and Self-Service Banking – Convergence and Control
  • Navigating Rapid Change Dynamics

Part 3 – The Road Ahead – Beyond Channel

  • Deep Impact – Technology & Disruptive Innovation
  • Gridless Customer Experience – More Complexity, More Choice
  • The Emergence of the Prosumer – Collective Intelligence, Social Networking and Web 2.0
  • Future Payments and Cash – RFID, Biometrics, P2P Micropayments, Digital Cash
  • Death of Advertising – Predictive and Precognitive Sales and Marketing
  • The BANK 2.0 Road Map

I’d like to call out the common theme as I saw it throughout the book – customer experience. For those that know me this was particularly profound. I’m a big advocate of usability and the overall user experience of products and therefore took great interest in the sections of the book that concentrated on those particular subjects.

Brett does a good job of providing just enough history of a particular subject for it to make sense to the reader when he goes on to explain how it has, and may, impact banking as we know it (or knew it at the time). As previously mentioned I did have an advantage as a reader as I work in the finance industry and I think this made the read easier for me. I perhaps wouldn’t have gleamed as much from it had I not the experience in the industry, but as the book is mainly concentrated on banking I don’t see that as a negative. I do believe any industry that relies on, or would like to rely on, IT to help service it’s customers could gain from reading this book. In many areas you could simply replace the banking references with your own industry’s references as the common theme remains the same – focus on the customer’s behaviour.

This theme isn’t new of course, and I don’t believe it was new back in 2010 when the book was published, however it amazes me almost everyday that many just haven’t caught on. I’ve seen a huge shift in my client’s business to move towards this theme, but it would appear from reading the book that many hadn’t back in 2010.

One thing that did happen to me while I was reading the book, that I perhaps would not have thought in-depth about otherwise, was a confusing customer experience of my own. I had applied for a HSBC (a bank that is mentioned a great deal in the book) credit card and been approved. The online application process was pretty simple, however when it came time to register for online banking I stumbled somewhat with HSBC’s IVR system. Activating the card was easy – call the number provided and follow the prompts on the IVR. Activating cards was one of the first level choices and therefore I had that done in no time. When it came to online banking registration it was another story – The letter I had received, and the text on the website both stated to call the particular number and follow the prompts. I called and listened to the options… none of which sounded like online banking registration. After experiencing ‘Activating cards’ in such a clear and concise manner, I had the expectation that ‘online banking registration’ would be equally as clear and concise. After a few attempts at a few different options, one of which was ‘credit cards online’ I decided to wait and speak with an operator. I believe that the option I wanted was in fact ‘credit cards online’, but even after choosing that option I couldn’t work out how I registered for online banking.

What made this experience so profound was that at the time I was reading a section of the book that was all about IVRs and how they can be utilised to expedite a customer’s experience, and save the bank money. Also that it happened to be; one of the most mentioned banks in the book.

Another nice element to the book is its case studies; some of which are written by guest contributors. The case studies go along way in proving what Brett is telling the reader. They also highlight, in great magnitude, the importance of the points Brett is trying to make.

Bank 3.0 has since been written, and while the reviews aren’t as great (in general suggesting there should have been more time between the 2 books) I’m still very keen to read it. That and other writings from Brett.

I recommend Bank 2.0, more if you’re in the finance industry, but also if you’re interested in how technology can, and may, impact the business of serving customers.

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