The midas touch

Finance, Technology | Wed 10 Jul | Author – Business & Finance

Shaking up banking and bringing a different perspective; it is the human touch that is at the heart of RaboDirect’s ethos and culture. Tim Bicknell tells Business & Finance why social media lends itself so well to a great customer experience.

Online social media is incredibly important to the RaboDirect brand, and the open and transparent dialogue that takes place across its online forums is as fresh and enlightening as it is informative and practical. This frank discourse where customers are playing a central role, runs at the heart of RaboDirect’s ethos. It is further confirmation that technology can revolutionise a business, and regardless of industry, any type of business can engage fully with their customers and provide a cost effective and efficient service all through technology and online platforms.

“Social media is probably one of the most important things we invest in from a technology point of view because it allows us to humanise the brand,” Tim Bicknell, general manager, RaboDirect says.
If ever there was a poster child for online banking it has got to be RaboDirect. Not only has the bank grown in terms of customers but it has also set the benchmark for generating a great customer experience. By bringing the human touch to banking, RaboDirect have clinched it in the online banking space.

“We have always been aware that there is a risk that an online bank could be seen as being impersonal,” Bicknell says. “We have based our whole approach towards customers’ communications around online social media and that’s incredibly important to our brand and our ability to have a dialogue with our customers.” Bicknell points out that it’s essential to personalise online interactions while at the same time deliver an exceptional service and a great customer experience. “We put a lot of focus and energy into that because it’s is an important part of the technology landscape and it’s also a way of humanising our interactions with customers.” RaboDirect’s online communications are also used in innovative ways with regard to its sponsorships.

Emulating Rabo’s success

Given RaboDirect’s success in the online space, what advice does Bicknell have for other enterprises trying to use social media in a personal yet at the same time professional manner? “From our experience customers want the technology to work, they want to be able to talk to us, they want to be treated well, they want us to be able to solve any problems quickly, but they are also interested in value-added content. Savings is a very simple product but the whole discussion and thought process around savings is, in fact, very interesting. How can you support customers to make saving a habit; how can you support them with value-added information around savings and their day-to-day budgeting to help them to save more?”

According to Bicknell engaging with customers on a human level is key; keep it simple yet personal, is his advice. “We will continue to invest in new and innovative ways to engage with our customers through new platforms, social media sites and through new devices. But at the heart of it is keeping it simple, transparent and making sure we have the human touch,” he adds.

Although RaboDirect is very much an online bank, Bicknell is quick to point out that they take every opportunity to meet with customers and recently ran a business roadshow, “where we were able to meet with customers around a segment that we feel needs a lot of support.” RaboDirect also run seminars. “We look for every opportunity to speak to our customers, either online or in person and that is really important to us.”

Digital innovation

According to Bicknell businesses need to constantly look at ways to be digitally innovative and to use online and social media to create a platform for the business to grow, and which doesn’t necessarily require a huge capital investment.

“There has been mass adoption of online technologies over the last number of years and there is a huge opportunity for innovation in Ireland. People are really fascinated by how to grab this opportunity and this is where we feel we can lend support.

“If you look at our Twitter feed, we have interesting information and content that can help businesses. As well as offering a good competitive savings product, we are also looking to deliver value over and above that.”

Reflecting on his first year since taking up his role as general manager of RaboDirect, Bicknell says being named by Finance Magazine as the 10th Safest Bank in the World — the only one of the top 50 in Ireland — has been very opportune for the online bank.  And yet the focus is still firmly on delivering a great service and customer experience. “We have lots of opportunities in the technology space and consumer technology and the adoption of smart phones is bringing a real pace of change; it’s really exciting because its bringing with it new ideas and new opportunities,” Bicknell enthuses.
If there’s one thing we can take from the RaboDirect experience it’s that technology is no barrier to anyone, anywhere. Rabo customers range from those starting out in their lives that want to start saving; families; middle aged people with complex lives and mortgages; people who are retired and who have retired — all walks of life — proving that technology is no barrier.