HSBC banking on digital to boost brand perceptions

HSBC is using digital to make sure its services are available wherever and whenever customers want, hoping to prove it understands its customers and boost brand perceptions.

HSBC chief digital officer says digital innovation can show the bank understand its customers and their needs and help build the brand.

Speaking to Marketing Week at The Marketing Society’s Creativity For Commerce conference in London today (21 November), chief digital officer Josh Bottomley said innovation is key to finding the products and services that customers didn’t even know they want. He said the firm uses digital to experiment with new services, finding out which are useful and which don’t fit into consumers’ daily lives.

“Digital can play a big part in building our brand by showing that we understand customers by providing the services that they need and introducing things they didn’t even realise they needed.

“We need to test a lot of those areas and see which ones stick to find out how customers fit us into their daily lives. That reengages our customers in what we do well and how we’re helping people,” he added.

He believes that knowing what consumers need from their banks can seem relatively easy, with people wanting to be able to do their basic banking functions easily, when they want them and where they want them. Innovations come from giving access but also maintaining security.

“One of the big challenges is how we reconcile security and access. The vast majority of our customers are multichannel, but there are still certain things that, for security reasons, we can’t do in digital.

“We have to make sure that is an easy experience, to go from digital to the contact centre to the branch. That is why we have started, in certain places, to give staff tablets that they can work with and make sure the customer experience is always the same.”

Bottomley suggested this could also help to boost loyalty. He believes word of mouth and direct marketing are still highly important to banks and the firm must sing about its services across its properties, from the mobile app, website and in- branch to social media.

“I have a very strong view that seeing is believing. If you get the experience right, the great thing about the internet is that people tell each other and that spreads very quickly. We are also aware if customers are unhappy they may use it to vent and we want to be able to respond.”

Bottomley joined HSBC from Google earlier this year where he was global head of display. He said on stage that the main difference between the two is that while HSBC has plenty of technology capability and marketing teams good at showcasing that technology, the firm was missing strong product management.

Separately at the conference Saul Klein, partner at venture capital firm Index Ventures, said that companies are still forgetting that technology and deploying new products is now the job of everybody, including marketers.

“Technology is ubiquitous. The lack of knowledge is shameful,” he said.