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Salesforce’s Rohit Mahna: The financial industry needs to get comfortable being uncomfortable

  • Salesforce does a lot of work around bank customer journeys.
  • The head of the firm's financial service practice explains the changes in the space.
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Salesforce’s Rohit Mahna: The financial industry needs to get comfortable being uncomfortable

When I interview the heads of marketing and digital at major financial services institutions, I hear the same thing — how important it is to have a unified, consistent, and delightful customer experience. That’s hard. Doing that, especially for large, legacy institutions, is really hard. Today’s customers have increasingly high expectations. People today want the same experiences from their financial institutions as they get from their car-hailing, food delivery, and dating apps.

Today’s guest on the podcast is Rohit Mahna, head of the financial services practice at Salesforce. He’s got an interesting view into the inner workings of financial institutions as they realign and redesign their customers’ journeys. We talk about what some of the top firms are doing to unify customers experiences — across their teams, their products, and their priorities.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Embarking on a customer journey

There’s a common theme we hear from banks of all sizes from all around the world. They all know they need to embrace digital in a completely different way and they know they have more competition than ever before. But everyone also knows that technology can bridge the gap or drive differentiation.

So, we’re completely focused on how to help firms take an existing vision and help them leverage the Salesforce platform to become much more customer centric. We’ll use terms like thinking about the moments that matter that you have with your customer. Think about your digital customer engagement journey.

BBVA focuses on mini customer journeys

Spain’s BBVA truly thinks customer centric. They have the whole notion of customer journeys woven through everything that they do. It’s not just something that their chief digital officer thinks about. They’ve knocked in out of the park breaking down the customer journey into multiple mini journeys.

Just on Salesforce alone, BBVA is running 170 customer journeys. One of my favorites is the onboarding experience. They want to understand the experience of the customer who signs up for a product and break that down into 90 days after. That’s truly the onboading experience — after I sign up, how does the bank build a better profile of me so they can deliver more personalization.

The biggest change in financial services

It’s all about mindsets. In the eight years I’ve been at Salesforce, firms have an entirely different mindset about how they’re thinking of going to market and how they’re thinking about technology. Banks have always been huge consumers of technology, but it’s now about it changes the way they engage with customers.

I’ve spent the last six days on the road with customers. I’ve been discussing mindset changes. No matter what, every executive is embracing the idea that they need to drive transformation internally. It can’t be bottom-up or top-down. Everyone has to embrace transformation.

3 different technology mindsets

We generally see firms thinking about transformation in three different ways: renovate, evolve, and transcend. Renovate is thinking still around lines of business. Evolve thinks about customer experience — maybe you’ve built a cool mobile app. Transcend is embracing Clay Christensen’s jobs to be done mindset.

Think about the home mortgage experience: a firm that’s in renovate mindset is probably differentiating off of the rate. With evolve, the bank’s built a good UI but it’s still geared toward the product. With transcend, you’re helping someone move.

A lot of consumer banks are sitting in evolve, getting really well-cemented there, before they start thinking about transcending. One mindset isn’t better than the other — it’s just a good way to ground the conversation around transformation.

From thinking about CRM to platform

The first few years I was here, we found prospects looking to upgrade their CRMs. Now, they’re saying we need to be customer centric and we need a platform to connect everything together — from sales, marketing, to servicing. We’re not talking just about technology. We’re talking about transformation strategy.

The rise of challenger banks

One of my favorites challenger banks is Volt Bank in Australia. The opportunity there is to focus on giving people a holistic experience from their bank. When you think about customer experience first, you’re no longer thinking about how to push products or cross-selling. If you think about the need and the experience, you can start solving problems the customer has. The first area they’re focusing on is helping people moving to Australia. There’s a lot of stuff you need to do and Volt is thinking about how to help them in this life stage.

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