Q&A With Fergal Coburn, Head of Channel Strategy and Development, Allied Irish Banks

It's happened. A critical mass of consumers have become "digital first." And the banking industry is no exception. In less than 20 years, Internet-based touchpoints have become the channel of choice for bank customers worldwide. 

Despite this massive shift in channel preferences, few banks have made a radical shift in spending. They still budget far more for their branch networks than for digital channels, and spend much more on traditional broadcast and print marketing than on digital tools like social media. This is why I’m particularly excited to have Fergal Coburn, Head of Channel Strategy and Development for Allied Irish Banks (AIB), speak at our Forum For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in Chicago on November 5-6

Five years ago, AIB was nearly ruined in the global financial crash. To rebuild its business and restore trust, the bank had to do something radically different -- and decided to transform itself into a digital bank. Fergal has led the design, delivery, and operation of AIB's digital banking capability. Fundamental to his strategy is a widely shared understanding of the need for digital. “Without recognition of this you are doomed to fail,” he notes. 

In the run-up to the event, Fergal was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him on what he’s been doing, how his efforts have evolved, and what advice he’d give to others on the journey to digital business. I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago!

Q. When did your company first start getting serious about digital business?

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Q&A With Paul Barker, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Hallmark Digital, Hallmark Cards

Digital will become the backbone of your entire business strategy. More than half of eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals we speak with agree, yet a mere 20% have mastered yesterday’s basics, such as a seamless handoff between channels.  And as Paul Barker, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Hallmark Digital, Hallmark Cards notes:  “Today, digital has to be a part of everything we do at Hallmark.  Digital is a part of product, retail, marketing, in store, and of course on the web and on devices.”

In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in Chicago on November 5-6, Paul was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him. I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago!

Q. When did your company first start getting serious about digital business?

Hallmark launched its web site in 1997 as an ecommerce site and also free e cards.  We wanted to avoid retail trade conflict so we experimented with selling products and solutions that were not available in our stores.  That led to consumer confusion and an inability to scale.  We then migrated Hallmark.com to mostly a marketing site, with very little commerce and free e cards.  Later, we used Hallmark.com as a launching platform for new businesses such as fresh cut flowers, gifts, home décor and other new businesses.  Today we have embraced an omnichannel strategy, blending our digital solutions with retail solutions for both our stores and our mass-retail partners.  We also are pursuing more digital connecting business concepts as well as offering short- and long-form digital entertainment solutions.

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Q&A With Dwayne Chambers, Chief Marketing Officer, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

Even doughnuts have gone digital. Between offering mobile alerts for hot doughnuts and interacting with evangelists on Twitter, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts has set out to integrate digital programs into its customer interactions and relationships – while still staying true to the 76-year-old global company’s core brand DNA. In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in Chicago on November 5-6, Dwayne Chambers, Chief Marketing Officer at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him.

I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago!

Q. When did your company first start getting serious about digital business?

The Krispy Kreme brand was built on word-of-mouth marketing.  We are fortunate that digital/social/interactive is today’s “word-of-mouth.” Things have really taken off over the past three years.

Q. What steps has your company taken to infuse digital business and skills throughout your business? 

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E-Trade and Fidelity Are Leaders In Mobile Investing

It's still early in the mobile investing game, but with investor expectations rising and substantial business at stake, digital wealth management teams know they must improve their portfolios of mobile sites and apps. To help, Forrester developed the Mobile Wealth Management Functionality Benchmark. Early this year, we published our first scorecard of five global leaders. We found that: 

  • E-Trade and Fidelity lead with strong account information and transactional functionality. Both firms excel in the presentation of portfolio information. E-Trade enables clients to see their portfolios' historical performance charted against major US stock indexes. Fidelity's visual display of balances, holdings, and market summaries is best-in-class. Most firms miss the opportunity to use graphics to let investors visualize their portfolios.
  • Cortal Consors, TD Direct, and Merrill Lynch all exceed minimum standards. Cortal Consors in France and TD Direct support a wider range of products than US firms because European investors often invest beyond their home market. Merrill Lynch, the only full-service firm tested, makes it easy to reach a rep.
  • Opportunities to improve include mobile-optimized websites, research, and ease of use. We believe that most firms will arrive at a mobile strategy that includes websites optimized for delivery through mobile devices. But none of the five firms we reviewed offer mobile-optimized websites. None offer stock screeners or in-depth research reports through their smartphone apps. None offer ease-of-use features like contextual help.
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The Secret To Loyal Financial Services Customers

Eight years ago, Forrester set out to find the corporate trait that does the most to create loyalty among financial services consumers. Loyalty, of course, is about more than simply retaining customers: Loyal customers are willing to buy more, borrow more, save more, and invest more with the firms they already use. We tested dozens of variables, including the length of the customer’s relationship with the firm, the quality of the firm’s customer service, and the firm’s money management skills. One trait emerged above all others: the perception on the part of customers that the firm does what’s best for them, not just what’s best for the firm’s own bottom line. We call it customer advocacy.

Our research continues to show that customers who rate their firm highest on customer advocacy are most likely to stay at and do more business with the firms they use. In the just-published “Customer Advocacy 2011: How Customers Rate US Banks, Investment Firms, and Insurers,” we show which firms are ranked highest by their customers – and which ones bring up the rear. 

The Big US banks dominate the bottom of our rankings of 47 firms. Thirteen of the bottom 14 firms are banks, including all of the nation’s 10 largest banks. Fewer than one-in-four customers of Citibank and Capital One Bank believe that the firm has their best interests at heart.  Small banking institutions, on the other hand, are among the customer advocacy leaders – and are winning market share in the process. Two-thirds of the customers of credit unions and well over half of the customers of regional and local banks rate their firms high on customer advocacy.

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Mobile Investing Heats Up

Most wealth management firms have gotten a pass on mobile, because the people with the most money – older Boomers and Seniors – are the ones least likely to use the mobile Web or mobile apps.

But that pass is expiring. Mobile is exploding, and even the older investors are part of the surge. As we show in the just-published The State of Mobile Investing, 11% of online adults with investment accounts are now mobile investors, up from 8% six months ago (see Figure 1). Two thirds of these mobile investors use their mobile devices to check investment account balances. Half get stock quotes or other market information via mobile. A quarter are mobile traders.

Figure 1: More Than One In 10 Investors Is A Mobile Investor

As channel managers at investment firms scramble to map out a mobile strategy, they face one particular dilemma:  mobile apps or Mobile Web sites? While downloadable apps command lots of attention today, we believes that the mobile Web will remain a critical delivery method for the foreseeable future. The simple answer to the app versus mobile Web debate is: both.  We recommend that firms develop a high-quality dedicated mobile Web to get the broadest possible reach, and choose a single platform on which to pilot downloadable apps. Then buckle your seat belts! The pace of mobile market innovation won’t slow down for the next few years.

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