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Jon Brooks Of Sabio Group On The Future Of Money and Banking

An Interview With David Liu

Rather than a career perspective, I will instead answer this from a customer experience and digital transformation perspective.

The way we bank has changed dramatically over the last decade. It was not too long ago when you had to wait in line in a bank to deposit money. Today things are totally different. You can do your banking without ever walking into a bank. In addition, the whole concept of money has changed. In the recent past, money usually meant bills and coins. But today, the concept of money has expanded to include digital currency and NFTs. What other innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?

To address this, we are talking to leaders in the banking, finance, and fintech worlds, to discuss the future of banking and money over the next few years. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Brooks, Head of Financial Services for Sabio Group, the digital customer experience transformation specialist.

Jon Brooks is Head of Financial Services at Sabio Group, a global reaching software firm specializing in digital customer experience (CX) transformation technologies.

Jon’s career at Sabio spans more than a decade having joined the company as a Commercial Account Manager in 2012. He has since worked his way through the ranks, becoming a specialist in the Banking and Financial Services sector through Head of Market roles in Banking and Insurance and now as Head of Financial Services. His career as a Customer Experience specialist spans more than 25 years.

Through a mixture of its own products and that of world-class technology leaders such as Avaya, Genesys, Verint, Twilio, Google, Amazon and Salesforce, Sabio helps organizations optimize their customer journeys by making better decisions across their multiple contact channels. As well as banking and finance, Sabio also has strong footprints in Housing, Insurance, Travel & Leisure, Utilities, Telecommuncations and Retail globally.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in this industry?

I was training to be a lawyer, and while I was waiting to start my Masters at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) after finishing my degree, I ended up working on the graduate scheme for one of the largest systems integrators in our industry. That’s, ultimately, how I became involved in the contact center and customer experience industry, I kind of fell into it, loved it and now here I am at Sabio having spent the last few decades working my way up the career ladder in the industry. I’m now focused on customer experience in the financial services and banking industries.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Believe it or not, the most interesting aspect has been fairly recently when the pandemic struck. I found it fascinating watching our clients evolve their customer experience processes when Covid-19 broke. As other organizations and industries wilted under the pressure of lockdown, uncertainty and the volatility of the wider economic landscape, others transformed their organizations and their customer experiences almost overnight.

The last few years, and particularly in the beginning of the pandemic, were really interesting as previously organizations were used to building a plan, agreeing a roadmap etc and everything took time. Suddenly, that changed. We’re in this unprecedented situation and before you know it organizations are having to make really bold and adventurous technology and CX decisions that, pre-pandemic, they wouldn’t have dreamed of making.

Watching that unfold within our clients, and being a central part of it on occasion, is the most interesting thing that I have been involved in since starting my career. Nothing can prepare you for it — it accelerated years of planning in digital and self-service adoption by several years. In some cases, projects that were worked on for two or three years were signed off, executed and delivered in a matter of days — even hours!

For the financial services industry in particular, this was previously unheard of and was fascinating to watch and be a part of.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Not really a quote as such but more a saying that I think is quite important to stand by and remember within the customer experience industry — and particularly within Banking. The saying is a well-known one but a powerful one in our industry, and it’s to ‘always try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes’. In the banking industry, I think banking institutions, or any financial services company, should always put themselves in the shoes of the consumer — how can they make interactions with them easier or smoother? And also, what impact that any decision they take might have? I think being able to see things from more than your own perspective is a great trait to have in general, but definitely when working in the CX industry.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

At Sabio, we bring together expertise, technology and insight to guide financial institutions in the creation of exceptional end-to-end digital customer experiences.

Specializing in cloud migration and the application of cutting-edge digital customer experience technologies, we work with organizations, including global financial and banking institutions, that are required to manage overwhelming numbers of customer interactions across varying touchpoints across their business. These organizations are a mixture of high-growth digital natives and established enterprises with large contact centers that are looking to transform their customer experience.

Some of the most interesting projects we have worked in involve collaborating with those established organizations, helping them assess their technology landscape, and identifying areas where they have legacy tech or processes that can be modernized and digitized as part of their digital transformation journey.

They will have legacy tech behind those customer interaction touchpoints — such as email, website, social media, and chatbots for example — and they need our expertise to drive elements of self-service and automation to digitally transform their business in both an agile and iterative way.

One of the interesting parts of this digital transformation journey though is in the need to balance that change with not only the impact on their customers, but also the impact on their people, and in particular their contact center advisors or those in related, customer-facing roles. With the Covid-inspired requirement for home or hybrid working, there are pressures on businesses and their workforce like never before.

Our job is to help businesses maintain and gain market share, become a leader in their industry through CX differentiation but at the same time ensure that the pressures on their customer-facing workforce aren’t too overwhelming through AI & automation technologies and mental health and wellbeing monitoring.

It’s a real mixture of pre and post-pandemic challenges — and something that I find extremely interesting.

How do you think this might change the world?

The organizations we work with have a number of things in common — a realization that to achieve positive customer experiences, then a similar focus on the employee experience is required.

On one hand, you’ll have a satisfied consumer, loyal to the brands in which they interact with due to the positive experiences they have had with that organization and on the other, you’ll have a dedicated employee as a fully-immersed brand advocate — thus enhancing the customer’s experience each and every time they interact to continue the cycle.

With an increasing focus on high quality experiences for both the customer and the employee — how can that not change the world, especially in banking?

What most excites you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? Can you explain what you mean?

I think what excites me about the industry is that it is now progressing at pace and becoming more receptive to digital transformation projects and digital and technology innovation in general than it was before.

It’s no secret that the industry was regarded as being pretty slow in that regard. From a Sabio perspective, it certainly was lagging behind some of the other industries we work within in regards to digital innovation and transformation. So the fact that Banks and other financial institutions are recognizing the benefits of technology and the impact that has on the overall customer and employee experiences is certainly exciting — and not just for organizations such as ours but for the millions of consumers and employees worldwide. Financial services is an exciting industry to be part of, and I think that’s only going to become more apparent in the coming the years.

Based on your vantage point as an insider in the finance industry, what innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?

In terms of customer experience, I believe we will see innovations concerning five key areas within the banking industry. These being;

  • Embedded Products & Services within Mobile Apps to Provide Personalized Experiences.

Customer ‘self-service’ is one of the fastest growing CX trends across the Banking industry today. With the majority of customers using mobile apps for a vast array of other services (such as shopping, utilities etc) it’s almost an expectation that Banks will offer this service too. The teams and associated expertise that are needed to create, manage and optimize those apps are not difficult for Enterprise organizations to manage in-house. Ensuring a personalized in-app experience that supports many customer self-serving within their app will help stronger engagement and adoption.

  • The Evolution of AI.

Rather than wait on the phone, customers now have the option to consult AI-enabled chatbots when faced with challenges. These chatbots pull and process information from various sources, such as the Bank’s knowledge-base and CRM customer profiles, to respond to incoming customer service requests. Should a particular request exceed the chatbot’s capabilities, it’s automatically escalated to a live service representative who can help the customer work toward a resolution. Best of all, more and more banking apps are offering chatbot technology as a native functionality, which means customers can quickly resolve issues from anywhere, at any time.

  • The rise of Digitalization.

The pandemic and the impending lockdowns limited, and in some instances completely removed, the ability for customers to physically visit their Banks which often resulted in voice channels being swamped with calls. In order to deliver great CX for customers, it became critical for Banks to offer customers’ alternative digital channels as another method of customer service and support. But this is easier said than done. Deploying an integrated omni-channel communication strategy with end-to-end reporting and data is one thing, providing the tools and support for less tech-savvy customers is another challenge Banks have yet to land.

  • Humanization of Digital Interactions.

Offering customers a range of channels is a good first step to delivering great CX in Banking. However, while many customers may be comfortable interacting with a ‘bot’, there will be just as many struggling with the lack of humanization across their interactions with the Bank. This is especially the case when those interactions involve the exchanging of sensitive information or data. Therefore, it’s critical that Banks find ways to soften the use of bots, by giving them personas or personalities and allowing that bot service to be joined up with human assisted service.

How has the pandemic changed the way banks interact and engage with their customers?

Even before the pandemic, disruptors into the banking sector had begun offering smart, mobile-first services, and the rest of the sector has been fighting hard to keep up ever since. Legacy systems can make this challenging — but with the right expertise and tech, it can be done.

That rise in the popularity of the various fintech apps led banks to increase investment in their mobile apps, transfer services as well as new savings and financial options — and as lockdown hit and people were forced to change how they went about their daily lives, digital transformation and customer experience investment from Banks became even more important.

In a recent study by EY, entitled ‘Four Ways COVID-19 is Reshaping Consumer Banking behaviour, almost half of respondents said that the way that they bank now had changed due to the pandemic, with 66% stating they were now visiting physical branches far less — with more and more using digital channels and mobile apps for their primary banking. In April 2020 — so just as the pandemic hit — the industry saw a 200% increase in new mobile banking registrations with overall use growing 20% over a six month period in the same year.

As consumer expectations continue to evolve, banks remain under pressure to do the same. Customer experience will be the battle ground for market share — banks that provide a simpler, smoother and more memorable customer experience will be the ones that lead the way in the industry.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Modern Finance, Banking and Fintech industries?

Rather than a career perspective, I will instead answer this from a customer experience and digital transformation perspective.

For banks, and any other financial institutions, looking to become a leader in their space, I advise turning those complex infrastructure and processes into a joined-up, responsive service that your customers are looking for.

Here are some of the ways in which Sabio Group helps our clients in the banking industry do just that…

  • Bring together your branch, contact centre and digital contact systems.
  • Lock down customer experience aspects of FCA, MiFiD 2 and GDPR to meet compliance and regulations.
  • Focus your customer experience around brand differentiators — such as pricing, personalisation or smoother customer journeys.
  • Target and fix pain points by joining up channels and touchpoints.
  • Add in automation where appropriate to make the service you provide faster and more streamlined.
  • Create more self-service options to cut call waiting times.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can keep up to date on Sabio and what we’re up to through visiting our website at www.sabiogroup.com

Alternatively, you can also follow or subscribe to our social media channels listed below.

LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/company/16675/

Twitter — (3) Sabio (@sabiosense) / Twitter

Instagram — Sabio (@sabiosense) • Instagram photos and videos

YouTube — (1139) Sabio Group — YouTube

Facebook — Sabio | Facebook

Glasdoor — Working at Sabio Group | Glassdoor

For myself, I can be found on LinkedIn here — (3) Jon Brooks | LinkedIn

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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David Liu

David Liu

David is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, a unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication

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