SugarCRM: Innovations in customer relationship management software – Daniel Heck

As the tidal wave of digital transformation continues to reform the shores of the banking sector, Daniel Heck, senior director of marketing EMEA, SugarCRM, discusses the best tools to handle this wave, and how data analysis has changed how banks and customers interact.

To what extent has digital transformation shaped the direction that businesses are taking when engaging with their customers?

Daniel Heck: The word 'transformation' is absolutely appropriate. Businesses are now in possession of the digital tools to engage with their customers in ways that were impossible a decade ago. There are myriad examples: from cookies and caching technology that enable targeted advertising, through to teams of dedicated social-media managers who can answer questions and resolve customer problems in real time and in full view. The relationship between a business and its customers is closer and better informed than ever before. The challenge is of course to deploy these tools in ways that work for both sides of the relationship; knowledge is power but businesses will soon lose favour if they become obtrusive or overly pushy. Knowing too much could potentially be as harmful for customer relationships as knowing too little.

We also know that some organisations are facing the challenge of having either the right approach, or infrastructural ability, to transform. Capgemini research found that, since 2000, 52% of companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist, due in part to being unable to keep up with the pace of digital transformation. But there is little point in investing funds and resources into technological change if the front-end experience isn't also improved or refreshed. Businesses need to ask themselves: how will this technology not only improve internal processes but also deliver our services in the best way to our customers?

We're living at an exciting time, with digital innovation transforming how we connect with the world. For businesses, the first step towards transformation is having the right mindset and infrastructure to enable disruption. They need to be open and agile to change, to not only keep up with their competitors but also lead the way.

I look forward to seeing more industries shaken up by brave businesses forging a new path for customer experience. At SugarCRM, we thrive on being different and our customers do too. Today's successful companies know that they need to differentiate themselves because doing the same thing you have always done will only produce the same results. The companies that will succeed in this era of empowered, intelligent customers will do so because they create better experiences and better relationships with their customers.

We offer CRM solutions that can transform customer relationships, re-energise customer-facing employees and help provide a truly exceptional customer experience. We embrace the power and potential of digital transformation, and encourage our customers to do the same.

How has the analysis of customer data changed the processes of how a bank interacts with its customers?

A highly competitive marketplace means that a bank depends on the goodwill and trust of its customers, whether this is in the consumer or the business space. A quick way of squandering this trust is by wasting a customer's time, whether in branch or online. However, the good news is that analysis of customer data means that a bank is able to embed relevancy into all its processes; no two customers are the same and no two businesses are the same, and the ability to tailor services, offers and support to specific requirements really does begin to look like a revolution. Data analysis enables a level of service across platforms and media that was previously only available when sitting in a one-to-one meeting with the bank manager.

To what extent do you think this now applies to the banking industry and how important is it as a vertical for SugarCRM to work with?

The fintech start-ups are posing an increasing threat to traditional banks in the form of taking away their customer base. These emerging firms have taken a completely fresh approach of attracting new customers using attractive digital value propositions and innovative services. The big banks no longer have a monopoly on the market as these new innovative models are able to take a chunk out of each part of a banks' portfolio. The biggest asset banks have in winning and retaining their customers is their reputation for trustworthiness and stability. Trust for new financial services does not occur at the speed of technology.

SugarCRM is fully committed to serving all areas of the financial services industry and supporting them within this new circumstance. We're engaged and excited by the specific demands of this sector in areas such as data security and real-time response rates. We've also got a strong track record of talking to businesses and banks to find out the kind of CRM solution that they want and customising our offering accordingly. Banking is also a sector that's in the vanguard of technological development, and this is a place where we love to be and in which we do our best work.

What is it that makes SugarCRM different to other CRM providers and how are you best placed to serve the banking industry?

We're always keen to shake things up in whichever sector we work. We don't subscribe to a 'traditional' model of software provision and instead allow ourselves the freedom to innovate with the simple aim of making a better product for our customers. We're more agile, alert and responsive than some of our competitors. This brings banks the flexibility that they demand facing fintechs in the daily approach to gain and retain customers.

Whether we are best placed is for others to decide, but we are certainly well placed to serve the needs of the banking industry. This flexibility we offer is not only available when it comes to adapting a solution to a bank's needs; our multiple deployment options sets us apart from our competitors. We know that financial services organisations want and demand the flexibility to store customer data how and where it suits them, which is why we are proud to offer the option of private cloud or multitenant environments. This choice allows our customers the freedom to choose the most convenient and practical place to store their data, with the level of control, access and security they require. Especially in a highly regulated industry such as banking, this is a big differentiator for us in the market and is highly appreciated by our customers.

How do you see the banking and financial services industry evolving in the future, in regard to reshaping digital customer experiences?

There will be no let-up in the development of smarter ways to improve a customer's digital experience in the financial and banking sectors. I'm often wary of specific predictions but there's little doubt that artificial intelligence and predictive analysis have the potential to take customer experience to another level; when you can accurately predict a need, even before the customer themselves, then you're in a position to deliver some game-changing levels of service.

At SugarCRM, we're working hard to deploy these new technologies and equip all of our customers with a CRM solution that is way beyond data entry and simple tracking.

In terms of the wider industry, we're reaching a point where mobile is no longer an additional channel but the default means by which a bank and its customers interact. Let's also not make the mistake of dismissing virtual reality as a passing fad? How long will it be before you can visit a virtual bank via a headset? These are exciting times and we're looking forward to seeing what happens in our industry in 2017.

Daniel Heck, senior director of marketing EMEA, SugarCRM.
Banking customers expect real-time responses and unbeatable security across all the digital platforms they choose to use to handle their finances.