In August, First Direct re-emphasised their position as the UK’s most social bank by launching the first crowdsourcing platform to hit the UK financial sector. With former First Direct marketing chief, Paul Say, joining TD Waterhouse, how long do asset managers have to catch up with the power of the crowd?
First Direct Lab: A first for the financial sector
First Direct have long been the UK’s most advanced bank when it comes to social media. Initiatives such as ‘Little Black Book’ and its online forum ‘Talking Point’ have established its reputation for embracing everything that the web has to offer in terms of customer engagement.
Now, it has become the UK’s first financial provider to exploit the power of crowdsourcing. First Direct Lab is, according to the official press release, a social platform “that will be populated with content every month such as product designs, service innovations and website concepts. Users will have the chance to critique the content through a comment facility and forum, with the feedback collated and inputted into the product or service teams before release.”
The first topics that have been posted for feedback include mortgage comparison apps, QR codes and the First Direct website re-design. As a FinExtra blog entry said, “what makes this important is that this is the first service that allows customers a voice in development and provides a nod towards co-creation of services. This marks a sea change in customer relations and First Direct has really stolen a march on their competitors.”
Banks have been slow to embrace social media but are now turning to the channel to help re-build the trust lost during the financial crisis. For the moment, retail banks are leading the way but it’s unlikely that asset managers will afford to remain outside much longer.
Crowdsourcing and innovation
The idea of using customers to spark innovation and refine product development is bang on the money. The bank wants “people to inform their offering and in doing so help (First Direct) serve them better”. It’s an approach that’s certain to work. After all, Apple rule the world by looking closely at how people interact with things. It’s what helps them launch products that exactly hit the mark.
Finding out about how clients interact with financial services can be trickier. We’ve already posted about how hard it is to collect genuine customer feedback but crowdsourcing initiatives like this can really help to close the loop.
On the one hand, it makes customers feel heard and valued; on the other it can drive innovation. Innovation can come from anywhere, within or outside of an organisation and what could be better than sourcing it straight from the customers themselves?
As well as improving satisfaction, fostering relationships and growing engagement, Q&A communities like this have the potential to save a lot of money by helping to iron out product defects and scrap bad ideas before millions of pounds have been wasted in development.
Is the crowd coming to investor services and wealth management?
Fresh from launching First Direct Lab, Paul Say has left First Direct to become Marketing Director at TD Wealth International. As the UK’s leading execution-only share dealing provider, TD Waterhouse is already a long way towards its aim to be Europe’s leading provider of online share dealing, having firmly embraced social media. With Say at the helm, how long will it be before crowdsourcing plays a part in their online success and if so, how long can the rest of the wealth management technology arena continue to ignore the wisdom of the crowd?