The silver lining of a crisis: defining and accelerating digital transformations

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, asset managers have done an excellent job of adjusting their service and communication response—in both strategy and execution—even if some scrambling has been involved.

In speaking with executives, following press coverage and observing third party communications, we have spent significant time thinking about our clients working through “digital transformations.” Although this pandemic brings more pressure, the timing enables firms to strategize and tactically plan their digital transformations.

Each firm has a slightly different definition and set of projects associated with their digital transformation. Digital transformation is difficult to define because it is a generic, over-used buzz word. As various firms share their unique definitions of the term, it rarely sounds transformational. Adding more forms to your website or designing a piece of content as a web page first isn’t digital transformation. Real transformation needs to be more significant. Coming out of the current environment, we believe firms will have more clarity on the most important and impactful ways that their transformations can help, using cultural buy-in and technical investment holistically across the firm.

 

The Light Shines on Digital Opportunity

What do we mean by all of this? From a service and operations side, call center demand is high and website traffic is up.  While driving traffic to the web is not new, it remains a practical approach to alleviating the call center burden.  Physical, in-person industry events don’t exist for marketing and sales teams. Nor do in-person sales meetings. Instead, more webinars are being conducted and attended. Sales teams are meeting advisors, analysts and institutional investors virtually. Mostly, the amount of customer contact seems to be higher overall, but different.

In times like these, you can hear the rally-cry across your organization and demonstrate the value and importance of digital. Something that was viewed as somewhat important before is infinitely essential now. Bringing sales, service, technology and marketing closer together is a necessity. How do we work together more cohesively to become more efficient and develop a more engaging digital experience? The customer needs to be the focus of almost all that you do. Customers across the board have increasing expectations for what they can and expect to do digitally. We assume that this crisis has reassured some customers that individual firms are there for them—but the flip side can also be correct, exposing difficulties in doing business. Looking hard at what those difficulties might be yields clear opportunities to improve.

While this is all still fresh, firms can start simple with initiatives to:

  • Alleviate pain: Map out common customer pain points to prioritize digital experience enhancements for both marketing and service needs. Don’t overthink it. Make it easy for customers to find information, complete transactions/invest and self-service. Ensure you are taking advantage of all of the service features available within your digital platforms.
  • Personalize the experience: Share data to inform customer-relevant messaging and outreach, including sales, marketing, digital, service and transactional data.
  • Prioritize tech investments for the greater good of both the firm and its customers.

 

Marketing is in a Prime Spot to Lead

Marketing leaders are in a unique position. This pandemic is a time to lead with strategic prowess as the customer experience is a direct reflection of your brand. Brand differentiation in the asset management industry is a rarity. Take advantage of having more eyes on your websites, emails and social channels. Use the data that your firm has to personalize the digital experience for all audiences that do business with you and enable them to self-service online as much as possible. Service may not feel like a “marketing” function, but marketing should work with operations and service teams to build out the most connected digital experience possible. SS&C research has consistently found that digital experience can be a tiebreaker when your customers are considering similar products. You want to ensure you are on the winning end of such tiebreakers.

(SS&C Technologies).

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