Let IT Own The Customers

A bank CIO was recently quoted in an industry publication as saying:

“The customers really belong to the IT department once the salespeople are done opening accounts for them.”

My first reaction was that this might just be one of the stupidest things I heard all week. But on further thought, I’m not so sure it was that stupid after all.

Most of the bank IT departments I’ve worked with are somewhere between good to great on a technology competency scale. And despite the myriad of problems many bank IT groups have in integrating and aligning with the business, I really believe that most really work hard to build and sustain the relationships they have with their “internal clients.”

At first I thought that, despite all these positives, having IT “own” the end customer relationship is a little scary and lotta laughable. But as I thought about the comment a little more, I realized:

1) IT probably impacts customer satisfaction for a greater percentage of customers than branch reps do. Personally, I have an account manager at my bank (not located in my local branch, by the way) who is probably responsible for my account. I’ve never met him in person. He’s called a few times to ask that most inane service question: “How is everything?” (To which Mr. Cranky here responds “why do you ask, is there a problem I don’t know about?” I love yanking his chain.) Like many other customers, my perception of the quality of the bank is governed more by what IT does (or, doesn’t know) than what this guy does and says.

2) In-fighting between bank product lines and channels over who does own the customer is counterproductive. There’s probably no bigger barrier to integrating customer data, figuring out what a customer’s true needs are, and presenting the right offer at the right time than the inability of LOBs to collaborate. But with the covert fighting that goes on over who owns the customers, that rarely happens.

So you know what? Let’s let IT own the customers. I don’t think they’ll do any worse than the groups who claim to own the relationship today.

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