The Financial Sector

Automated Teller Machines are only the bottom rung. Businesses everywhere are already implementing customer support systems that are virtually indistinguishable from actual, human help. The insights provided by investment software can be frighteningly accurate. Can the financial sector be run entirely without people?

Reports by Forrester predict machines will eliminate around 6% of all US jobs by 2021. Uber, Google, and Tesla have made no secret of their driverless vehicles – products which may claw back jobs initially created by the popular driver apps. Technological disruption has already been felt in different parts of the world, with riots by cabbies who don’t like app-driven carpools very much.

But steal your job? Really?
Doesn’t that violate Law #1?

 Well, sort of – technically – no, it actually does.

Despite these laws being complete works of fiction, they do serve to illustrate that business will always remain a human affair. Especially with an increasingly customer-centric approach to industry – large banks, for instance, have wanted to express their humanity to customers who have become disenfranchised with the culture of the financial sector.

Many believe that financial entities have gotten into the habit of viewing people solely for their utility, rather than for their person-hood.

One hallmark example: the phrase “Human Resources”.

People usually forget the “Human” half of that phrase, because they’re…I don’t know…human?

This disposition is maybe why we’ve seen such strong trends toward things like Customer Engagement and Customer Journey. These are certainly words that account for the human factor.

But how are they being enacted? We’ve seen a struggle to adopt new customers, and to retain old ones, probably the direct antithesis of our ideal “Journey”. Something must not be right. Maybe it has to do with our interpretation of the phrase “Customer Journey”.

While it sounds like a step in the right direction, sounding right is not enough. Disguising efforts to cross-sell as “Customer Journey” can be counter-productive in an age where the average consumer values authenticity above anything else. When you do this, you are focusing more on the utility of adopting a customer than on engaging one.

This is not to say that we should disregard utility altogether. Really, it’s an entire half of the equation. But sincere customer engagement must always be the first move. We have to remember that our flourishing has always resulted from a synergy of personal and technological elements, not from overemphasis of one or the other. Optimal solutions come from the maximization of two extremes.

When we remove feeling from the equation, exaggerating the function of a customer as part of a machine, we ourselves become a machine. This puts a break on the Customer Life Cycle we often mention – ultimately, customers do not respond to machines like they do to people.

They are people, and they want to interact with people. A robot will only take your place when you decide to become one (i.e. forget the human element).