As part of our ‘Road to Recovery’ event, Everbridge brought together industry leaders to map the recent economic and human shifts financial services firms have needed to adapt to. We spoke with Tesco Bank’s Chief Customer Officer, Sigga Sigurdardottir, and Absa Bank Zambia’s Managing Director, Melu Mizinga, about how their commitment to operational resilience has kept them as industry leaders in the financial sector.
Here are three key insights that arose from this conversation that firms should be asking themselves, as we look to the new decade.
1. Monitoring consumer behavior creates a competitive advantage
Whilst it would be near-impossible for a business to not notice the difference in consumer behavior, it’s important to realize that these changes are here to stay. Sigga, speaking on Tesco’s key role in the early months of the pandemic, remarked they “responded incredibly to the crisis”, through practical customer-orientated changes, such as doubling the amount of available food delivery slots.
These reactive changes to consumer demands are not just temporary measures, but the fabric of an adaptive and successful corporation. With a more tech-driven customer appetite for digital, financial services are having to reshape the user experience as we enter the next normal. To address this issue, Tesco has implemented changes – from banking to mobile services, groceries, and pharmacies – that accumulate to a total five years accelerated digitization.
Speaking on how the pandemic specifically has affected firms in the Global South, Melu stressed the importance of securing resilient supply chains. Customers and clients, now more than ever, value security and continuity, and businesses should be asking themselves how they need to adapt to meet this higher standard.
EVERBRIDGE SAYS: Firms that monitor consumer behavior and demands can use that information wisely to foster a significant competitive advantage by not just promising, but proving they are putting the customer first.
2. Collaboration is key to build positive brand association and trust
The pandemic has changed the way that institutions communicate and support each other, and businesses that continue to champion collaborative initiatives will find themselves ahead of the curve. Melu stresses how important payment holidays were to ABSA Zambia’s clients, in building trust and being seen to help support the nationwide economy. By redefining the terms of growth, holistically including contribution to the wider economy, firms can be incremental in governmental efforts to keep small businesses afloat.
Financial firms have also begun to reap the benefits of retaining constant and clear communication with industry regulators, collaborating to balance “between liquidity and capital”. Sigga, speaks on the collaboration companies like Tesco have had with government authorities, in which now companies should see themselves as an important part of national and global networks – not just as atomized revenue.
And with brand integrity now paramount in a society that demands companies to be accountable, responsible, and most importantly, authentic, more firms are waking up to the fact that trust is crucial to ensuring brand integrity. Both panel members agree that these transparent and ethical new business relations create unparalleled brand awareness. By working to keep businesses afloat, finance firms can be seen as key figures in the global economy.
EVERBRIDGE SAYS: Minimal compliance may keep a company out of trouble but will do little to gain consumers’ trust. Forging strong relationships with regulators and third parties is key to great brand reputation.
3. Business continuity is more than a buzzword
Building long-term sustainable business continuity goes beyond surface level strategies, and as the global pandemic has taught us, firms need to have sustainable programs in place that go beyond simply reducing risks. A strong plan, focus and cross-team collaboration will be important for building long-term resiliency.
But maintaining good business continuity does not mean being stationary but staying agile so changes can be implemented swiftly across departments. Sigga highlights that the recent pandemic increased the turnaround of new schemes to 18 days, due to “a lot of learning and muscle building from becoming increasingly agile.” Greater control of supply chains, messaging and cross-departmental communications creates a stable and continuous business that can also radically adapt.
For Absa Zambia, Melu highlights how their business adaptability allowed them to be one of the few firms that remained fully open during the pandemic – moving “from strength to strength”. Quick and identical social distancing measures were in place in every one of their branches within days, such a swift and agile response underpinned Absa’s important role for Zambia’s economy.
EVERBRIDGE SAYS: This higher standard for both business continuity and resilience is here to stay, and finance firms need to ensure they can reshape and mold their organization on a much more demanding timescale. Those more forward-thinking companies will look to develop and implement a single unified, enterprise-wide approach to business continuity, making resilience integral to their brand.