Aug 16, 2017

The Client’s Perception Is Our Reality – My Take on the Customer Experience in Fintech

Steven O’Hanlon, Numerix CEO

A mix of great ideas, great timing, great technology, great convenience and disruptive innovation are what have contributed to the success of the fintech revolution. One way or another, more customers than ever are engaged with fintech—and it’s a story that keeps developing. This is great news for the industry. But I wonder, as the industry moves forward and the number of fintech players proliferates, will a focus on product and execution alone be enough for continued success?

This question brings me to reflect on client relationships. Particularly, on how clients view us. As just a vendor? As just a commodity? I understand they hire us for our expertise—for our specific knowledge and skills and ability to solve for their needs. But what of the next time around? These clients may very well turn to someone else.

To develop a client loyalty that lasts, we need to achieve that breakthrough relationship status. We need to go from “expert for hire” to “trusted partner”. The thing is, being a great fintech company may no longer be enough to retain and grow client relationships. In my opinion, today it’s also about delivering an outstanding client experience—and it may be the only source of attaining market distinction today.

Before I go on, I should be clear as to where my company, Numerix, fits within the fintech world. While not a tech start-up, Numerix is a capital markets tech company digitizing traditional financial services operations for trading and risk management. Built on a 20+ year analytical foundation, our clients are banking, hedge fund and asset management institutions, and the traders, risk managers and c-suite members within those organizations. Overall, I have nearly 40 years of experience as an entrepreneur and leader in the financial technology space. I have advised hundreds of senior managers and, over time, I learned a thing or two about clients and the client experience. Here, I share my thoughts on what I think it means to be “customer focused” in fintech.

We Must Provide a Great User Experience
For the fintech industry, I believe delivering the right client experience has two fronts: the user experience side, and the client centric side. A user experience, in my view, is tied to interface design and functionality. This is about how our end users interact with our technology and the decisions that motivate their actions. The client centric side is based on customer service, responsiveness and engagement. In terms of the former, for savvy tech companies like Numerix that build trading and risk management platforms, it’s about designing a digital and innovation experience that helps employees better conduct their functions—such as by solving for workflow, connectivity, pricing, risk management, data management, reporting, and compliance challenges—and which ultimately helps the institution succeed long term.

It’s crucial for the user experience we deliver to be geared around enhancing an institution’s performance and growth, while boosting efficiency, agility, flexibility, and reducing costs. There is no doubt that customers will migrate towards the technology tools and services that offer a better user experience and, if possible, enhance opportunities for profitability. People now even judge a company’s credibility and trustworthiness by the quality of the user experience, so we can’t underestimate its importance.

This means our innovation initiatives can never stop. And sometimes the only way to innovate in a way that makes a substantial impact on a client’s life is to get inside the company and learn its business and operations really well. For Numerix, this means working closely with an institution’s trading, risk, quantitative and IT leadership in analyzing the issues and comprehending the needs. This then enables us to build a blueprint of the specific features and qualities that would underlie an excellent user experience, and one that would resonate well with the different channels we work with, from the c-suite to the trader to the IT team. Otherwise, you risk delivering shallow results.

In providing an extraordinary user experience, we can learn from companies across a vast array of industries. For example, Apple, Amazon, Starbucks and Uber have changed their industries forever. The user experiences they deliver transcends products, services and price. I particularly like to use Uber as an example because it simply but effectively illustrates my point. Uber took a simple idea and by transforming it into a digital service, and integrating the process into a person’s daily workflow, upended the entire taxi industry. It made ordering a car service easier than traditional methods of arranging transportation. Additionally, it put lots of cars on the road, which made it faster to secure a ride when you needed one.

Delivery of the Client Experience Begins In-house
The client experience is like a high-stakes game. Every interaction with a client represents an opportunity to earn more business or, conversely, the risk of losing a customer. To help position Numerix for the greatest, longest-term success, I focus not only on ensuring we develop superior software and technology, but I focus on the human factor as well—on cultivating strong client relationships.

Obviously, delivering a satisfying client experience means something different to every organization. As a CEO, the key for me is to clearly define what elements make up our version of being “customer first,” and then I direct my management team to maintain a client-first culture every day, in every office and promote behaviors that make it a reality.

We take the “Numerix Client Experience” very seriously and the expectations I mandate are clear:

•    LISTEN to our clients; take the time to understand their situation and their needs. What are they experiencing now and what do they want to experience? Pay unflinching attention to their wants and goals.

•    ADVISE the client on what the best approach should be. We provide world-class solutions and services and the client expects expert advice rooted in deep practical knowledge, experience and IT understanding.

•    PROPOSE a solution. It’s important to have a two-way dialogue and arrive at all business decisions together. By first proposing a solution and then having a discussion and arriving at a meaningful path forward together, you are building trust and ensuring clients are comfortable with their decisions.

•    ENGAGE periodically with clients. Ongoing, regular communication is essential to client relationships—it lets clients know they continue to be top-of-mind and it is also an opportunity to provide updates, such as company news or progress on product innovation.

•    SUPPORT all clients, and address their needs in the most seamless and least disruptive way possible.  Friendly and responsive support should be the cornerstone of every organization.  When the client wins, you win.

The essence of the Numerix Client Experience is to provide a framework that helps us to meet the wide range of needs of our diverse client base and to ensure we are delivering the type of service expected from one of the world’s leading and most exciting fintech companies. Our ethos has always been to deliver outstanding technology solutions in an outstanding way. We have retained more clients this way and have expanded many business relationships. We’ve also converted some clients into advocates, which has resulted in bringing in more prospects.

I want to finish by emphasizing that delivering a great client experience is about a process that continues throughout a firm’s relationships with its clients—relationships that, potentially, can exist not just for the short term, or even the long term, but that can extend over the lifetime of both organizations. After all, the client experience doesn’t sit still.

Steve O'Hanlon is president and CEO of Numerix, a Fintech specializing in solutions for capital markets. O'Hanlon has spent his 25+ year career in leadership positions growing start-ups and SMBs across the financial services technology industry. He has a passion for entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation. Today O'Hanlon is focused on building businesses, promoting a digital mindset and driving success.

Follow more of Steve O'Hanlon's insights on Leadership, Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship on LinkedIn.

- See more at: https://www.numerix.com/how-pick-fintech-partner-not-easier-said-done#sthash.mkisGlfb.dpuf

Steve O'Hanlon is president and CEO of Numerix, a Fintech specializing in solutions for capital markets. O'Hanlon has spent his 25+ year career in leadership positions growing start-ups and SMBs across the financial services technology industry. He has a passion for entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation. Today O'Hanlon is focused on building businesses, promoting a digital mindset and driving success.

Follow more of Steve O'Hanlon's insights on Leadership, Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship on LinkedIn.

- See more at: https://www.numerix.com/how-pick-fintech-partner-not-easier-said-done#sthash.mkisGlfb.dpuf

Steve O'Hanlon is president and CEO of Numerix, a Fintech specializing in solutions for capital markets. O'Hanlon has spent his 25+ year career in leadership positions growing start-ups and SMBs across the financial services technology industry. He has a passion for entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation. Today O'Hanlon is focused on building businesses, promoting a digital mindset and driving success.

Follow more of Steve O'Hanlon's insights on Leadership, Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship on LinkedIn.

 

 

Steve O'Hanlon is president and CEO of Numerix, a Fintech specializing in solutions for capital markets. O'Hanlon has spent his 25+ year career in leadership positions growing start-ups and SMBs across the financial services technology industry. He has a passion for entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation. Today O'Hanlon is focused on building businesses, promoting a digital mindset and driving success.

Follow more of Steve O'Hanlon's insights on Leadership, Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship on LinkedIn.

- See more at: https://www.numerix.com/how-pick-fintech-partner-not-easier-said-done#sthash.mkisGlfb.dpuf

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