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A refined CRM strategy is an indispensable tool for banks in order to survive in today’s market conditions, reveals new European research from Atos Origin and EFMA


Panorama of CRM in retail financial institutions 2009
“From convenience to necessity – the evolution of CRM in retail financial services”

Paris, European research distributed today by Atos Worldline, which brings together Atos Origin expertise in high tech transactional services and EFMA (European financial management & marketing association), reveals that the Customer Relationship Management rules applied by banks “before the financial crisis” are no longer valid and that the “post-financial crisis” global CRM approach is still rarely explored. The research based on a survey of 75 European financial institutions including retail banks, and insurance companies, will help them refocus their CRM strategy in order to reassure customers and bring back profit in these uncertain times.

The current economic context and financial crisis has most probably led many financial services institutions to refocus their CRM strategies with the customer relationship being more than ever the key to profitability of a retail activity. These institutions have to design a new approach to regain and reassure customers. Even if they have only started building a “how to win back trust" strategy, there is a general movement towards “refocusing on the customer” for the “post-financial” crisis phase.

The report, which has been distributed today, places CRM strategy at the top of the agenda and looks at the different approaches to CRM, the implementation issues and the technology requirements. Financial institutions can use this information to benchmark, develop and refine their strategies.

The report highlights the following key conclusions:

“A win back trust” strategy
Financial institutions have to rethink their CRM approach and reposition the customer at the heart of their global strategy in order to win back customers. An optimum balance between financial investments and the satisfying customers’ needs will generate the maximum profit. In this context, going back to finance basics seems inevitable, but not without following a “customer-centric” approach leading to a more meaningful relationship with the clients:

* Improving customer understanding by getting hold of behavioural and relational characteristics
* Identifying the customer’s favourite channels while repositioning the channels according to their profitability

Yet, according to the results of the interview, only few actors have really set up a new “post-financial crisis” strategy.

Spreading the “think customer” strategy throughout the whole company
There is a continuous effort from financial companies in spreading the “think customer” strategy throughout the whole company. In order to strengthen this effort, companies should provide proper change management strategies for the progressive improvement of employees’ skills and buy-in. In fact, the difficulty is not whether the tool is easy to use or not, but to change the way to sell as well as the perception of customer himself.
Furthermore, CRM is a significant part of the strategy, but not the only one. Therefore, CRM projects have often to be included in wider projects.
Ultimately, it may require a change in corporate culture for many financial institutions. The most successful banks and insurances companies are likely to be those where CRM is well integrated and is at the heart of the company’s processes and activities.

Transforming information into action
There is an increasing demand for real-time customer information on online channels. To satisfy this need, companies seek for more and more sophisticated customer intelligence tools, developing targeted individual approaches. This “customer intelligence” approach requires in-depth work on the quality of information while enriching it.
The “intelligence” about the customer must be captured in the process itself, so the same knowledge base could be used by everybody, everywhere, anytime. This is why future investments are mainly concentrated on “real-time” solutions and mobile channels helping to be more pro-active.

Fine-tuning sales channels
Unsurprisingly, our research reveals that no channel is dedicated to a specific segment. Traditional channels are still widely used, but electronic channels are now rapidly becoming more and more important.
Financial Institutions mainly focus on strategic development of direct channels, their need for short term results leading them to seek means to reduce costs. But if they want to bring back trust and profit together, they will have to consider repositioning and fine-tuning their sales channels in order to increase their sales efficiency. Besides, influencing the whole sales & marketing strategy Internet is becoming one of the most important channels.

About Atos Origin
Atos Origin is a leading international information technology (IT) services company, providing hi-tech transactional services, consulting, systems integration and managed operations to deliver business outcomes globally. The company’s annual revenues are EUR 5.5 billion and it employs 50,000 people. Atos Origin is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic Games and has a client base of international companies across all sectors. Atos Origin is quoted on the Paris Eurolist Market and trades as Atos Origin, Atos Worldline and Atos Consulting.

About Atos Worldline
Atos Worldline brings together Atos Origin’s core expertise in hi-tech transactional services. A leader in end-to-end services for critical electronic transactions, Atos Worldline is specialised in electronic payment services (issuing, acquiring, terminals, card and non card payment solutions & processing), eCS (eServices for customers, citizens and communities) as well as services for financial markets. Atos Worldine on-going commitments to research and innovation enable its customers to benefit from award-winning solutions in areas such as mobile payments, secure IPTV, online CRM and paperless solutions. Atos Worldline generates annual revenues of €814 million and employs over 4,800 people in Europe. For further information, please visit:

About Efma
The European Financial Management and Marketing association (EFMA) is the leading association of banks, insurance companies and financial institutions throughout Europe. On a non-for-profit basis, EFMA promotes innovation and best practices in retail finance by fostering debate and discussion among peers supported by a robust array of information services and numerous opportunities for direct encounters. EFMA was formed in 1971 and gathers today more than 2,000 different brands in financial services worldwide, including 80 percent of the largest European banking groups. For more information, visit


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