Personal finance is exactly that—personal. Knowing, this, one of Ireland’s largest stockbroking firms, Goodbody, created personalized digital experiences to exceed customers’ expectations.
Using a cloud-enabled digital experience platform, Goodbody’s digital transformation resulted in a scalable, connected and secure experience for clients.
"When you're talking about somebody's finances," said Sean Croston, chief operating officer for Goodbody, "it's a very personal experience. You're talking about their future, their health, their wealth, their well-being into the future."
So how did they do it? And during the COVID-19 pandemic no less?
Here are some key takeaways from a recent interview and webinar with Croston aimed at helping other companies achieve the same level of results.
Croston, who has a degree in applied mathematics from Dublin City University and has worked for Goodbody for several years, was instrumental in forming a digital transformation strategy for the company. Part of that strategy was to choose Sitefinity Cloud for connectivity and web content creation capabilities.
Goodbody offers a broad range of financial services for retail customers, including financial planning, investment management and advisory services. Due to client expectations, the company adopted a digital-first approach to its operation.
"Our customers are our business," Croston said, "and we put our customers first."
The plan for digital transformation was driven by people, process and technology—in that order. Rate of change and adoption were major concerns as well. As the digital transformation began, the company formed a massive transformational purpose (MTP). Some of the areas that were enhanced included lead scoring and speeding up marketing campaigns.
Launching its digital transformation in the first quarter of 2019 prepared Goodbody for the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Had we not started our digital transformation program in 2019, I'm not sure I'd be sitting here talking to you today," Croston said. "I'd certainly be focusing on a heck of a lot of operational issues and challenges across our firm."
The company was well positioned to maintain its business, including engaging with clients during the pandemic. But for a company to benefit from digital transformation, "it has to result ultimately in a reduction of cost and increased benefits to the clients, increased revenue or something," he said.
There hasn't been much need for technical support since the digital transformation began because "it's largely relatively intuitive once you get up and running."
A key to successful smooth digital transformation is to move away from silos within companies, which allows for easier and better collaboration. Embracing the concept of a people business and being open to change are significant factors in accelerating a digital transformation. A company needs to realize how digital services compliment working directly with customers and the importance of measuring customer engagement.
"We live and die by the fact that you really only manage what you measure," Croston said.
Despite the progress made at Goodbody, "I wouldn't say financial services have been the leaders in this space. They're probably the laggards in terms of following the trend," he said.
Even so, the digital transformation will be a key differentiator for the business going forward. Removing friction from the customer journey is a key emphasis.
Despite the banking sector's slow adoption of apps, FinTech has evolved quickly over the past decade.
FinTech has accelerated into B2B because they understand the speed at which transactions need to take place. And the faster these transactions can happen, they more competitive advantage firms have within the markets.
Businesses need to adapt to how customers are changing in the way they research products and engage with the brand.
"You need to allow people to kind of browse and experience your kind of products at the outset before they actually engage with you," Croston said.
Once the customer begins engaging with the brand, it's important to personalize the experience. There’s a real sense of urgency in meeting client expectations these days.
"This is a kind of do-or-die-type situation," he said. "We either look at this as a competitive advantage and go at it with vigor and achieve the goals and outcomes that we're looking to do for our business, or the longer-term prospect is not going to be a pretty one for our business or for our industry."
Croston envisions the entire digital transformation process to take five years.
"Largely speaking, it's been a positive experience in terms of our digital transformation and its impact on our ability to respond to COVID. It's been an enabler for our business. I don't think anything has changed. It's just reinforced our view of the importance of this type of change," he said.
According to Forrester, there are five competencies of digital experience: organization, strategy, governance, process and technology. If you bring technology in too quick, you have a chance of breaking that foundation and making it crumble a little bit.
Goodbody uses Sitefinity as its marketing hub.
"We built up this nice big backlog of things we needed to focus on," Croston said.
He explained the need to integrate marketing efforts with digital technology while staying true to its sales pipeline. Using digital solutions to open new accounts has been a key element to the company's business growth. He emphasized the need to minimize friction with clients to maximize effectiveness.
Goodbody uses a lot of Microsoft products.
"Our CRM system is Microsoft Dynamics, we use Office 365, we're actually quite comfortable with the Office 365 environment, and believe that the Microsoft Azure platform itself offers some really strong security and governance type protection within all that," he said.
He explained how "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) editing tools have helped in the transformation. These editing functions from Microsoft Dynamics were integrated into the sales pipeline. It allowed for greater elasticity and resilience regarding redundancy without dealing with infrastructure.
Other reasons for choosing Sitefinity beyond its drag-and-drop infrastructure, were its strong and secure platform and it allowed the organization to integrate its older tools into the platform. Goodbody has used Sitefinity mainly for early engagement, pre-sales cycle with clients and sales pipeline integration. Although Goodbody hasn't utilized all of Sitefinity's features right away, Croston said, "We can see a roadmap. It's aligned to our future."
Croston said Goodbody's focus in the next six months will be on client onboarding. He further emphasized getting client feedback and putting their voice more into the process of change. Creating content hubs for clients to consume material is also on the company's horizon.
Keeping customers happy is just as important as gaining new ones.
Gregg Shupe has nearly 20 years of professional marketing experience across a broad range of industries including enterprise IT, consumer electronics and telecommunications. While focused on delivering Digital Experience Strategies, Shupe has a proven track record of helping companies and business partners digitally transform their organizations into the modern era.
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