Atom Bank is the UK’s first bank designed for digital and optimised for mobile.
Lisa Wood, CMO, is speaking at Econsultancy’s excellent Future of Digital Marketing conference next month.
We caught up with her for a preview, picking her brain on the merits of a branchless and legacy-free, online bank.
What does personalisation mean in banking? How do you ensure it is ‘light touch’ and not annoying?
Personalisation is about understanding the way in which customers want to interact with you and giving them the tools to tailor what you do to their own preferences.
Everyone’s different, so you can’t second guess the way in which someone wants to use your services.
In banking people generally don’t want over-familiarisation, but they do relate to a brand that connects with them and is on their side.
Tone of voice can play an important part in terms of connecting with your customers and target audience.
At Atom we’re taking personalisation a step further, demonstrating that we’re building a bank for our customers, not for ourselves – every one of our customers will get their own unique personalised brand when they register for our app.
It’s their bank, not ours. This gesture in terms of personalisation is resonating highly with customers joining us.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of having no branches when it comes to customer-centricity?
We’re designing a truly joined up experience from the word go.
We’re not having to connect disparate channels that hang off different systems and platforms, we are designing a connected experience with our app fully backed up with a 24/7 customer support proposition.
Having a reduced number of channels makes things simpler, but it doesn’t stop you from offering a number of options to customers about how they want to connect.
If a customer needs support, they have a number of choices and can shift from one channel to another in a joined up way.
Not having branches does limit the number of people who’ll consider us as their bank, but we know we’re not for everyone and have a real focus on who we are for and shape our products and services around that audience.
A significant advantage of having no branches is that we don’t have the cost associated with running a branch network. Lower costs for us means better value for our customers.
Your customers by nature are tech savvy. How does this affect product development?
Our potential customers are actually quite a diverse group – we’re targeting a mindset, not a demographic.
We know they’ll be tech savvy, but more importantly they’re adopters of new ways of doing things, whether that’s tech or not.
What it does mean is that they have high expectations and want to have a voice, having an active enthusiasm for all things new and different.
From a product development perspective we’re keeping products simple, but adding value through the app experience we’re building to make sure it’s quick and easy to open an account and manage your money.
Increasingly as we grow our customer base, we see customers working with us to feedback and help us develop new products and services.
We want our customers to keep us honest and agile – having demanding customers means we have to keep one step ahead and our business model is shaped around this.
There’s been a lot written about big corporate culture preventing digital transformation. Have you got any insight into this from a startup like Atom?
This comes back to having legacy systems that need significant amounts of investment to change and create a more agile infrastructure. In large organisations it’s not always easy to prioritise that investment.
In terms of customer centricity, again legacy hinders.
Decisions to do the right thing for your customers often come with a price tag – existing banks have large customer bases that they’re making significant amounts of money from and a decision to implement a change for all customers then comes with a big income impact.
That has a knock impact on profitability and shareholder value, so you can see why the big banks are slow to change.
The beauty of a small business like Atom is we can make decisions about what we want to do and implement quickly.
We haven’t got layers of bureaucracy to cut through, or lots of people we need to convince. It’s a small team and the decisions we make are in our hands.
We‘re focused on a low cost model so that we can share the value that creates back with both our shareholders and our customers.
What’s the next big thing when it comes to personalisation via mobile, at Atom and beyond?
Atom will be an ever evolving business and there’s plenty we’ve got up our sleeve in terms of personalisation, some of it we’re not giving away just yet!
As we increase the sophistication of our app, we’re looking at how accounts and notifications can be much more tailored to your personal situation and preferences.
We’ll learn from how customers are using the app and then mould the experience to their preferences and they’ll be able to set-up goals and alerts to help them manage and get closer to their money.
The Future of Digital Marketing takes place on June 7th 2016.
In this video Econsultancy founder Ashley Friedlein summarises three kep topics we’ll be covering at the event.