‘It’s too costly not to innovate’, a phrase coined by one of my university lecturers, in the most joyous of all modules: ‘Innovation Management’. I didn’t agree with her at the time, but since leaving university, I can’t help but jump over to her side of the fence.
One business sector that cannot afford not to innovate at the moment is banking; in the wake of the financial crisis, banking has suffered a severe cultural backlash. Socially, it could be argued that there is a huge trust rebuilding exercise to undertake, to ensure the restored confidence in the financial markets is maintained.
Barclays is a great example of one retail bank aiming to restore customer trust, with two new innovative digital services that add value beyond its normal activities. It is clear that Barclays are keen to adopt a digital attitude by asserting themselves as prominent players online. One of the two new services is ‘Barclays Digital Eagles’ - a free initiative to assist people with getting online, and to assist elderly customers with adopting technology. Services such as this can build trust with existing customers, as well as providing an incentive to prospective customers.
The second service that has been launched more recently is called ‘ClicThat’, and is a group buying site specifically for Barclays’ customers. ClicThat allows users to buy products for a discounted rate using the leverage gained through group buying. Nick, our BDM recently caught up with a member of their team. It is interesting to assess these services as it shows companies are beginning to migrate into the digital space and recognise the importance of doing so.
Research from The International Business Research Conference suggests that the financial crisis severely affected consumers spending patterns. The conclusion of the report explains "The Global Financial Crisis has forced consumers to question their beliefs and attitudes towards purchasing.”
Customers now have a vested interest to ensure they are informed, by researching products and services before committing to a purchase. This is now easier than ever; consumers now have a wealth of blogs, news articles, review sites, and social networks to reference, which quickly builds a picture of a brand, their products and services. Therefore from a commercial perspective, it is important that companies match this trend with resources that add value to their existing product offering. Digital platforms allow companies to do this by adopting new technology. Companies can now create websites, apps, and services that offer value to their existing and potential customers.
Many companies within retail offer additional benefits as part of their product offering to entice consumers. This is particularly prominent amongst mobile phone operators where additional digital services are included as part of the purchase. For example ‘Spotify Premium’ and Netflix are offered by Vodafone when a customer takes out a new mobile phone contract. These comparable examples are slightly different to that of Barclays, but strive for the same objective; to facilitate user needs and desires by providing digital platforms and services to the benefit of theirusers.
These services strive for the same objective; to facilitate user needs and desires by providing digital platforms and services to the benefit of their users.
Clearly there has been lasting damage to consumer purchasing behaviour, so it is important that businesses empathise with this. The flexibility of digital platforms now allow businesses to create services related to their brand that offer a sense of added value. They allow brands to engage with consumers beyond their normal service offerings quickly and effectively, with the potential to embrace additional platforms that benefit consumers. It is a positive move to see companies such as Barclays who have acknowledged the need to re-engage with customers, by embracing digital platforms to add value to their service.