The National Bank of Greece's main aspiration is to service it's customers with an emphasis on their needs. Dimitris Plessas, Director of Retail Banking at the National Bank of Greece explains that what actually matters is the users' experience that can improve communication. According to Dimitris Plessas, online transactions via smartphones will be the main service offered, in the near future.
How the transition from a product portfolio view, to a customer view, affects your retail banking communication strategy?
NBG is in the process of moving from a product-centric service and distribution model, which reflects the way the bank sees itself, to a customer-centric model, which is the way our customers want the bank to serve them. As such NBG retail distinguishes three key segments for individual customers: private, affluent (branded Premium) and emerging affluent, each with its own unique characteristics and needs.
Our communication, as well as our product offering and service model is tailored to each one of these segments. You will increasingly begin to view communication focused on the customer and their experience with the bank, whereas before we would focus on products and their features.
How important is customer loyalty in a multibank environment?
Consumers these days are increasingly demanding. They view banking as a commodity and are willing to switch to the bank or other entity that can serve them better. In this environment of increased competition, customer loyalty becomes very important, especially for established banks with a large customer base.
NBG was the first to introduce a bank-wide loyalty program that allowed us to target and effectively reward any customer behavior we wanted to promote. Currently, we are rewarding more than 30 customer behaviors such as retaining or increasing deposit balances, repaying loans on time, transacting through cards and electronic channels, as well as downloading our mobile application, referring a friend and of course wishing you happy birthday.
Acquiring or issuing as the next business challenge in transaction banking – please share your opinion
Issuing and acquiring is going through a golden age in Greece as a result of restrictions in cash transactions imposed by capital controls. Going forward I believe the focus will gradually shift to electronic transactions as it makes little sense for consumers to carry an additional payments mean other than the ubiquitous smartphones, which on top of their ubiquitous nature also offer more functionality than a plastic card with an integrated circuit.
What opportunities do you see towards emerging segments such as millennials and unbanked population?
Millennials are a unique type of consumer. They have grown in an era of instant gratification and as such are very demanding in everything they do, including their finances. Their world revolves to a large extend around their smartphone and it’s their preferred method of conducting any type of activity including business transactions.
Their demanding nature and view of banking as a commodity provides an opportunity for new entrants in the market and a challenge for existing players to increase or lose respectively their customer base. As concerns on security ease up, as trust is no longer as important as it used to be, the entity that manages to create the best experience will prevail.
Within 2018 there is a clear change of focus for all challenger banks and neobanks towards the small business banking, how NBG is positioning towards this segment?
As a new entrant in the banking market you start out by focusing on collecting customers and funds. You end up with a customer base and a liabilities base which cost you money to maintain and serve. The asset in your hands is the money your customer have entrusted you with and thus you are looking into ways to put them to use, allowing you to generate additional income. Small business lending is a good niche to target as typically information on the health of the borrower is easier to find, which makes credit scoring more accessible to new entrants. On top of that you get a big share of the transactional business of such entities which is far bigger than any individual customer needs.
NBG is of course a traditional player in this segment having a long standing relationship with the business community. We cover any small business customer need from accounts and day to day transactions, to lending, leasing, factoring and trade finance. We are very competitive in that segment and have dedicated relationship managers in our branches specifically for this type of customers.
Furthermore we encourage and support entrepreneurship in every stage, through our Business Seeds program, covering startups all the way from idea formation, to business plan development, to legal entity registration, to seed financing.
How you foresee the bank assurance industry in Europe in a couple of years where all PSD2 regulations will be in place by regulators. Do you believe there is room for mutually beneficiary cooperation with fintechs?
The bancassurance industry in Greece is lagging behind Europe and the rest of the world. Apart from the lower penetration of bancassurance products, the prevailing service model in insurance in Greece is through agents.
Going forward I expect this to change. As with other industries the focus will increasingly shift towards online and mobile, which opens up the market to new entrants and fintechs. What now seems as an exotic option in Greece, such as pay by the mile auto insurance or differentiated pricing on health insurance based on your lifestyle, will be commonplace a few years down the road. A rather boring industry is about to get a major overhaul and fintechs will definitely play their role in this transformation.
Loyalty and rewards programs are integral to increasing consumer lifetime value (LTV) – Last year NBG Loyalty program GO4More won the award as the Best Loyalty Program in Banking, at the global Loyalty Magazine Awards so you clearly have a great strategy – could you share the tips on a successful loyalty banking program?
Be omni-present. Stay relevant. Keep fresh. Reward behaviors and not products. Bank-wide and not cards only. Offer a lot of redemption options. Aim for a high redemption rate. Make sure your members understand the value they are getting from the program. Make customers coming back to your application by introducing offers on a weekly basis. Invest in an integrated marketing platform like Warply Engage. Make it social. Gamify the experience. Treat each customer with respect.