B2B Client Community

The B2B Client Community enables business banks, insurers or other FSIs to build gated communities in which clients discuss topics of unusual business relevance. [Bank] thought leaders may hold live periodic discussions and contribute thought leadership to support interactions and, most important, client outcomes. Relationship Managers assist clients with general business and specialized questions, invoking specialists as needed. The entire community benefits from the discussion. [The bank] enhances collaboration by credentialling members, who may remain anonymous. Of course, anonymous members have the option of getting in touch “in real life” as facilitated by [the bank].


Summary

Concept

  • Engage clients [and prospects] by sharing ideas and organizing discussions on critical business situations.
  • Engage institutional, small business and personal banking clients in dedicated venues.
  • [Bank] credentials members, who may then remain anonymous. Include prospects if desired.
  • Relationship Managers offer advice, encourage comments and give business assistance in client community online.
  • Subject matter experts page in to discussions as appropriate.
  • RMs’ online “trusted advisor” acts of service impact all clients in the community, not just the clients who ask.
  • RMs demonstrate their breadth of value in client-defined business contexts.

Outcomes

  • Immediate goals are increasing trust and client knowledge of [bank] breadth of services; cross-selling & share of wallet increase.
  • Create a unique destination for clients [prospects] to ask key questions & contribute advice that affects their businesses.
  • Boost engagement by holding live periodic live chats with [bank or outside] experts.
  • Evolve strategy and execution in fast feedback cycles.
  • Get real-time insights into client business issues, and use to boost relevance, cross-sell, and create products.
  • Innovate faster with community input.
  • Broaden the footprint of clients’ relationships with [the bank] because they have access to various experts, not only the RM.
B2B Client CommunityMore social business
in financial services

Expanded Description

Concept

Commercial/institutional/business bank relationship managers offer core banking services, but providing business advice is often a key part of client relationship building and expanding business. Moreover, their clients have highly specialized knowledge as well as invaluable business knowledge. The B2B Client Community is a hyper-efficient venue to unlock the value by creating an anonymous collaborative space. Notably, [the bank] has the data and knows member identities.

Key to success is using online research and the bank’s knowledge of its clients to create focused discussions and “collaboration opportunities” that clients cannot readily find elsewhere.

Interaction is focused on client challenges, opportunities and specific business outcomes. Examples might be staffing and building treasury teams, penetrating new markets, issues related to mergers & acquisitions, international finance, and board of directors issues. Relationship managers are visible in the community and serve as business resources to select clients and refer them to valuable employment candidates, partners, professional services, etc. in “trusted advisor conversations.” The trusted advisor role is a key element of their permission to cross-sell other banking services to existing clients because their client conversations are more diverse and holistic.

However, relationship managers currently deliver trusted advisor expertise one on one, so this element of the relationship is too expensive to be widely practiced. This social business opportunity proposes to create trusted online communities in which clients can get advice from relationship managers and communicate with each other, too. Let’s look at the economics of a hypothetical situation:

Legacy Approach (Current State)

Social Business Approach (Future State)

  • Bank has 100 relationship managers and 10,000 business clients.
  • 100 relationship managers on staff have two “trusted advisor conversations” via phone or email with clients per week = 200 conversations.
  • They add value to 200/10,000 clients (2% of client base).
  • From a client perspective, this information is often hard to access due to time constraints.
  • Bank has 100 relationship managers and 10,000 business clients.
  • 100 relationship managers on staff have two “trusted advisor conversations” in online bank client community with clients per week = 200 conversations.
  • They add value to 10,000/10,000 clients (100% of client base).
  • From a client perspective, this information is easy to access because it’s available on demand.
  • Clients add value to each other by having communal “trusted advisor” conversations in the bank client community. Over time, client-client conversations will dwarf relationship managers’, dramatically increasing the resource at minimal cost to the bank. Bankers shift to a curator role.

Process

The purpose here is to outline the process of building a B2B client community, just to provide an idea of the concept; please post questions using comments, or email us for more detail.

Strategy and vision

  • Audit the online ecosystem to determine clients’ and prospects’ willingness to have relevant conversations online; they can include email filtering and analysis. Do not ask clients their opinions on the concept to make your primary feasibility assessment; people mean well, but their real behavior usually differs from their responses to hypothetical situations. Studying real online interactions is a much better indicator. Validating the online analysis by interviewing clients is a good practice.
  • Analyze your bank’s organization, product portfolio and personalities. Which area(s) are feeling the most pain? Which have a few relationship managers who have experience with innovation?
  • Assuming you find relevant conversations and at least one area of the bank that is motivated and able to contribute, your can define your pilot(s). It is best to scope two to three pilots in order to reduce risk (one or more will succeed).
  • Your strategy is based on real proof that the clients you want to engage are online talking about relevant topics, and it assesses your organization’s readiness to engage. Your audit of the ecosystem will teach you a lot about what’s available and how your bank can distinguish itself. Use pilots to test and evolve the strategy.

Execution

  • Select teams carefully; remember, you are starting small, so you don’t need more than a few people to contribute a few hours each.
  • Expect that even the most enthusiastic people will need mentoring in how to act online to increase trust and business. The beautiful thing about social business is it’s transparent; once you model behavior and results, you serve as your own example for good and bad practices.
  • Create tools like pilot charters that explicitly define goals, processes, resources and roles, but don’t boil the ocean. Ours are typically four pages long. Also create templates for each role, so they know exactly what to do. Creating templates for each role (for example, maybe one role specializes in contributing links, while another one sparks and manages conversations) takes the biggest risks out of the pilot. People need guidance, so give it to them, but don’t be formulaic; social business gets the best results when people are free to be themselves.
  • Focus conversations on solving thorny problems in which your ecosystem audit has shown interest. You are creating a new space, which has to prove relevance to hold people’s interest. It’s not about interacting for its own sake. You need a clear vision of how you will create uniqueness. Your strategy addresses this explicitly. Encouraging RMs in complementary areas is good practice. For example, CFOs often have Human Resources reporting to them but they know little about the discipline; RMs could leverage [bank] relationships with HR people to have them collaborate with CFOs in focused discussions.
  • Avoid the “content trap.” Business leaders have been conditioned to think that clients/prospects want “content,” and that is seductive because content scales so easily. However, now information is free; most clients/prospects see far more value in individualized interactions. Don’t use your community as a dumping ground for marketing fodder. Use “content” sparingly where it adds value to specific situations, but focus on interacting.
  • Determine the comfort level of your clients with existing technologies; do not build custom for your pilot; use existing tools, and aim for simplicity. Don’t let technology be a barrier. CSRA has learned repeatedly that simpler is better.
  • Authenticated client members choose their usernames; based on their interactions in the community, they build reputations; these may or may not be recognizable outside the community.
  • Do not assume that the bank client community has to be entirely private. You can create a taxonomy of interactions, some of which can be public. This can attract prospects.

Projected Outcomes

Outcomes usually present in stages, which are given here roughly in order. Please note that this is a generalized suggestive list.

  • Your bank client community becomes a destination for clients when you provide consistent, reliable, unusual help and information. Based on culture and results, you can scale the community by allowing members to invite other people.
  • Real experience in the bank client community will enable you to validate and evolve your strategy in fast cycles, inexpensively.
  • Your team will learn how to interact online to increase trust and depth of relationship. Since social business is digital, you can analyze interactions to determine whether trust is increasing or decreasing, based on how people really act (not on how they say they act). Here’s one measurement model.
  • If you do two or three pilots, you increase the chance that one will succeed, and you can scale success based on real-time feedback.
  • Relationship managers and product management have a rich sounding board for developing new products and services after you have built a rich forum. Since you have access to real-time, trusted feedback, your bank can innovate much faster than competitors.
  • Gives clients [prospects] a broader experience with [the bank], burnishing RM and [bank] brands. This works when your people are coached to be very focused on specific client outcomes.
  • Building a trusted community can take time, but that adds to your bank’s advantage. When you are the first, you become the destination, and the time required serves as a barrier to entry for competitors.

More Information

CSRA social business opportunities are the highest impact opportunities that we see in the market, so we are actively pursuing work in these areas. They enable leaders to transform their business processes ahead of the market, putting competitors at serious disadvantage.

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