If we were to have made note of the most commonly used phrase at FTT Building Societies on 21st October, it would most likely have been “lovely to virtually meet you”, or “your microphone is still on mute”, or perhaps “we’ll have to have a drink in person one of these days!”
But beyond these aspects of virtual events which we have all become accustomed to, I am confident that the most commonly raised point was either “technology should not replace the human touch”, or “the key is always keeping the members at the heart of innovation.” Throughout the day’s discussions among panellists and delegates alike, the importance of people in the digitalisation process was absolutely clear.
Our first panel of the day – featuring Nationwide, Newcastle and Yorkshire Building Societies, alongside Bold360 by LogMeIn – certainly brought this dynamic to light. This rockstar speaker line-up were in agreement that technology can only be embraced where it delivers a genuine improvement to customer experience, or where new solutions empower colleagues to provide better service, enhancing the relationship between a society and its members.
For Building Societies, digital is not about replacing the face-to-face experience, or mindless automation of processes. It is about delivering the experiences customers expect and want. And this means customers from older generations too, who – our panellists noted– desire digital solutions just as much as members from younger-generations. This was one of several myths about Building Societies’ that customers busted during the panel!
Overall, discussion continued to return to the unique nature of mutuality and its impact on how innovation is approached within the sector. An absence of shareholders allows mutual institutions to look past the cost-cutting and increased efficiency that automation offers, and always prioritise what is right for their customers. Even if this means appreciating that in some instances, digital is just not the appropriate response.
As Ben Sampson, Director of Digital Programmes at Yorkshire Building Society noted, “We are here to make sure customers can save for a rainy day or find a place to call home. This might mean that sometimes you choose to not digitise and deliver a service in a different way, to maintain a human touch”.
Below you can watch the full recording of this engaging and topical session, featuring:
- Ben Sampson, Director of Digital Programmes, Yorkshire Building Society
- Manila McLean, Chief Information Officer, Newcastle Building Society
- Celine Allain, Senior BFSI Industry Lead, Bold360
- Phil Gosset, Head of Innovation, Nationwide
- Moderator: Brendan Gilmore, Managing Director, BPG Strateg