Despite mortgage crisis, Talisma finds success in Financial Services

If you were to ask me which industry to avoid these days, I’d likely say financial services (FS).  A slow down in purchases has been named as the reason behind quarterly earning disappointments for a while now.  But as I learned last week, support technologies with a clear ROI are still selling within the FS industry, and it appears that consumer banking, in particular, is investing in multi-channel support automation as a way to cut costs and increase service levels.

Last week I had the opportunity to spend a day at a Talisma event, including presentations from two customers:  Richard Searle, head of electronic channels for Nationwide UK; and James McGuire, vice-president, Online Strategy and Client Experience, Royal Bank of Canada. Fantastic content. Consumer banks are under great pressure to move more interactions to online banking, deflecting live agent interactions to cut costs. But since the FS industry understands loyalty and churn propensity, they are darned sure going to capture every interaction, regardless of channel, and monitor customer behavior to be sure the customer experience doesn’t suffer.

Talisma’s Customer Interaction Management (CIM) Suite is a good fit for this environment, and we had some great discussions about channel adoption in North America vs. Europe, and where SMS messaging fits into the picture. Europeans have been using SMS for much longer, and for more uses, than in the US, though according to Searle this is primarily for opt-in alerting, not actual two-way communication.

With a Who’s Who of financial companies among Talisma’s customer list, including Citibank, Bank of America, HSBC, Fidelity, ING, Barlcays Capital, JP Morgan and others, it is no surprise that Talisma has focused on FS for their first vertical product suite: Talisma CIM for Financial Services. For FS readers, look for Talisma’s white paper on the top 10 trends for retail banking executives, touching on multi-channel issues such as secure email, identifying high value customers, personalization, Web chat and collaboration, and VOIP. Authored by Sr. Director of Marketing, Anand Chopra, the paper does a deep dive on the financial and competitive issues at play in FS today, and shows why servicing customers extremely well is the best approach during tough economic times.

Historically, CRM and eService vendors would target industries without a lot of expertise, and vertical products were pretty thin (often little more than demo ware). It is good to see a vendor create an industry solution because they have a large number of customers in that vertical and are enhancing their product with input from these accounts.

To close out on the FS issue, while there are definitely big problems due to subprime mortgages, let’s remember that is only one piece of the total FS landscape.  When I want an enlightened view, I go to my former colleague from Forrester, R. “Ray” Wang, who is quickly becoming one of the most quoted analysts in the industry.  Here’s what Ray has to say about the FS spending slowdown: “A potential global financial crisis precipitated by the mortgage melt down, globalization pressures, ongoing middle east conflict, and tumultuous political conditions raise concerns about the world economy. Despite such market pessimism, most end users expect 2008 enterprise software budgets to continue to increase in high single to low double digit rates.”

This quote is taken from a post on a blog Ray chairs (and to which I am supposed to contribute), The Software Insiders Point of View. Check it out!

Do you work in or with financial services, and if so, how does spending look to you?  If you have any comments or suggestions, please add them or send me an email.  And as always, thanks for reading!

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One Comment on “Despite mortgage crisis, Talisma finds success in Financial Services”

  1. Alex Sweeny Says:

    i completely agree. Good insights that seem to reflect our own experience in FS during 2008. Among the tier 1 banks, credit card firms, and card loyalty companies, spending on improving and honing the online customer experience appears to be healthy. Creating an engaging, compelling, and competitive online experience directly facing millions of financial service consumer site visitors is no small challenge. Converting visitors to customers and servicing their inquiries demands that technologies deployed allow a lot of flexibility and creativity for web architects, marketing, sales, and service management to design an effective deployment of online self-help that is as good or even better than a live interaction. Creating a competitive experience is still high on most consumer facing FS organizations and based on our activity this year continues to hold significant budget through 2009. The focus seems to be to integrate the online channels with live agent assisted interactions to build out a seamless chain of events that will have customers getting exactly the right interaction they want, at the right time, for the right reasons. This will always remain a core focus of consumer facing companies and FS is no exception. Differentiating by the customer experience is one of the only areas that can attract and hold customers based on what are otherwise commodity offerings.

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