We’ve written about The Increasing Customer Expectation and the Impact on Enterprise Digital Priorities as one of the key themes we’ve been noticing among ASEAN enterprises this year and it’s no surprise that this category has been attracting the largest number of Enterprise Innovation Award nominations. In the Philippines, 3 out of the 5 finalists for the award are banks that have continued to reinvent how financial services are delivered to their stakeholders, be it consumers, the unbanked, or corporate banking.
Since we started the Enterprise Innovation Award in 2017, the entries from the Philippines have been increasing exponentially in quality as the country leapfrogs into the digital age. In the banking sector especially, banks were able to quickly reap the benefits of digital transformation and fintech innovation is strongly supported by the central bank, Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas. From delivery of financial services to the unbanked, to digital payments and fully digital branches, the Philippines consumer is spoilt for choice.
We had Sir Lito from RCBC Bank share about how they are delivering financial inclusion with their DiskarTech app which achieved more than 3M downloads within the short time frame of 3 months. Beyond enabling digital aid disbursement, DiskarTech provided a way for the community to earn additional income during this negative economic cycle.
Similarly, Janette Y. Abad Santos from Robinsons Bank helped us gain insight into their customer centric digital transformation. The bank looked at how they could shorten motorcycle loans application for the unbanked, enable quick disbursement of salary loans and even allow unbanked customers the ability to withdraw government aid through their atm machines without the need for an atm card.
For UnionBank, the enterprise innovation finalist entry was on them establishing a financial supply chain platform that allows them to provide seamless and secure corporate banking facilities to their corporate clients - providing them easy access to business financing and better cash flow management especially in these times of need.
The Digital Consumer and Changing Expectations
One thing that the entries had in common was how they viewed digital transformation as an ongoing journey instead of an end goal. By starting on the customer centric banking transformation before the pandemic, they were able to scale up their offering and reap the benefits of innovation when COVID19 accelerated the digital habits of the consumer.
For the hospitals, fulfilling customer expectations meant different things before the health crisis as compared to now. Before, Hennesy Lou Miranda, in her role as the Director for Customer Experience and Engagement, often had to look at value added services like retail tenants, lifestyle options to shape a positive experience for their patients. Now, the patients simply want the safest and most efficient way to access their health services while limiting their time within the hospital. Her team was able to launch a teleconsult offering within 6 weeks to cater to this new customer requirement - no small feat for a healthcare provider!
Customer Experience Cohesion: A Shared Vision
To create a 360 customer experience, Ron Batisan, Vice President from the Customer Experience Group at UnionBank, helped to build the Philippines’ first fully digital branch, The Ark. By clearly establishing the direction of all UnionBank operations to convert every customer to digital, the team was united in driving this shift and has grown from the first The Ark at the end of 2017 to 50 fully digital branches (and growing) now.
But great customer experience requires a dedicated team to deliver on the promise, and every customer experience journey begins from the employee experience. As shared by Aileen Neoh, CEO of Aecus Asia, in her work with some of the leading banks in Singapore, she has been asked to measure employee productivity and measure the elements that impact the workplace. Sometimes some of the areas may not be immediately apparent but solving it can help to drive up employee productivity. For example, managing surrounding temperatures can impact employees' work (too cold or too hot temperatures reduces productivity). Aileen also brought up the need to balance digital technologies with the human touch - while technology can help to drive convenience and efficiencies, it can never fully replace our need for social interaction.
The Digital Natives and their Advantage/ Disadvantage
We had with us two digital companies in the healthcare and finance space who shared with us how they manage the customer journey. Dr. Chet, Chief Operating Officer, Good Doctor Technology, said that their business model does not aim to replace physical hospitals, but rather, identify the bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the way customers are accessing healthcare now and look to bridge that gap. Without the need to consider the operating model of a traditional healthcare provider, they are better able to look at how to provide services that can break the iron triangle of healthcare: that access, cost and quality cannot be improved at the same time.
For Azril, Regional Director, Performance Marketing at GoBear, being digital allows them to pivot faster. Before the start of the pandemic, travel insurance was a key part of their platform but with travel coming to a standstill, they have been able to shift the business from travel insurance to innovative partnerships with banks. (They launched purchase financing together with UnionBank and Lazada to allow Philippino discretionary spending).
Engaging The Philippines Customer
The panelists were then asked how they are managing the increasing customer expectations and the Philippines’ companies were unanimous in describing Filipino consumers as “vocal”.
“Philippine customers are vocal and they are not afraid to express themselves,” Sir Lito said. He added that although it is not pleasant to hear complaints, this customer feedback tends to be very useful in understanding your customer journey. It is also advisable to deal with the complaints yourself before it becomes trending news on social media.
Janette echoed his view and shared how she is looking to collate data across multiple channels to find out what the customer wants. Likewise, Ron B said data is important for a customer that is constantly changing and evolving. While they may not fulfill specific asks from customers, his team looks at the customer pain points and helps to address their end goals.
The session was a fruitful one with laughter all around and camaraderie among the panelists - Filipinos are as hospitable as they are vocal and will probably be one of the first to offer you a bear hug once the pandemic blows over. Till that happens, We’ll have to contend with our pre-session icebreaker chats - and more of these virtual focus groups. If you are keen to participate in our AIBP Insights series, feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.