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PURPOSE, PLANNING AND PEOPLE = PERFORMANCE! 4 P’S TO FOCUS ON IN THE HERE AND NOW

Matthew Emerson, Founder and Managing Director, Blackmore Four

 

There are many things in business that need attention ‘right now’.  Irrespective of what is happening around us, running a successful business is complex and demanding, and it’s easy to move from one critical priority to the next, believing or hoping that everyone’s effort is contributing to your business’ performance.

Right now, however, many businesses are trying to work out how to survive, return to profitability or, if you have had a positive COVID bounce, sustain levels of performance that may have only happened because of extraordinary circumstances.

The fundamental anchor here is business performance and defining what that looks like in the challenging and changing circumstances of your industry or sector.  Everything else has to be based on what you consider to be new, realistic standards of performance.

If you haven’t already, there is nothing more important right now than re-establishing the core of your business; why do you exist, where are you heading, how are you intending to get there and – this bit is critical – how do you ensure this is clear for people who work with you and that they are empowered to contribute to that journey?

 

Purpose

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea’ (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

I love this quote.  You do not have to know too much about ship-building (by all accounts a highly-skilled operation) to understand the point here.  This addresses the very heart of team and organisational performance – purpose.  More specifically, shared purpose.  Individual purpose may be guided by our personal circumstances, aspirations or needs and this may be a powerful driving force for personal motivation, but it is the identification of shared aspirations, common interests and issues of mutual concern that form the basis for productive, high-performance teams to thrive.

Although three quarters of employees surveyed by the CIPD say that they understand the purpose of their organisation, less than one third believed that the purpose was shared through the whole organisation.  So, how do you foster shared purpose?

  1. Employee Voice.  Ensuring people genuinely contribute to shaping but also reviewing how your collective actions are aligned (or otherwise) to your shared purpose.
  2. Language.  If people are genuinely engaged with the shared purpose, then the language associated with that purpose must reflect the team that it bonds.
  3. Storytelling.  Being able to tell stories of how actions align to purpose enable members of your team to personally connect with the meaning and importance of what your business is doing.
  4. Challenge.  It is important that people feel comfortable challenging each other in a constructive and helpful manner. Members of your team need to be able to identify and address action that contradicts your shared purpose.

 

Planning

I don’t think all enjoyable journeys need to have a specific destination but if your journey has purpose that can be defined by specific milestones or a destination, they you’re much more likely to be able to put together an effective plan of how to reach them.  Similarly with our businesses, if you want the effort within your business to be effective and to reach certain goals then firstly, you have to be very clear and consistent in what those goals are – especially when they have had to significantly change – and secondly, you have to dedicate some time and resource to planning the complex web of activity.

Planning isn’t the most exciting word and in many respects it’s not the sexy end of business, but just as we need to anchor our teams to a shared purpose, we need to provide some cohesion to our efforts in order to generate confidence of reaching our targets.  Business Plans, Financial Plans, Marketing Plans . . .  People Plans . . . the list may be endless.  I am not advocating planning as a form of procrastination but the activity of planning helps detect opportunities or threats to your business that might otherwise be overlooked and the outcome, even as a work in progress, can be the source of clarity needed when all around us seems anything but clear.

 

People

If you can invest time in ensuring the people who contribute to your business performance clearly understand and can engage with your ambition, then it is also critical that they are given the conditions, environment, tools and knowledge to be able contribute to the collective effort. That includes your employees but may also include your suppliers, partners, clients or customers. Whilst I agree with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s longing for romantic purpose, people also need to know where to find wood, know what a ship looks like and develop a range of technical and personal skills to enable them to be a valued contributor.  We call this empowerment.

Effective organisations allow each member of the team to contribute to decisions in a natural way that promotes idea generation, information sharing, involvement and accountability.

  1. Idea generation. People with an understanding of your business need time to think of new ways of working and you need to create a climate that allows people to generate those ideas.
  2. Information sharing. Ideas need to be shared, tested and developed through open and honest communication that brings the best out of those ideas and makes them useful for your business.
  3. Idea generation and information sharing may provide the content for effective decision making but if the execution of that decision is hoarded by a privileged few then employees will stop contributing ideas, stop contributing to decisions and you’re back to being ineffective.
  4. You are running a business so people within your organisation need to take accountability for executing decisions, changes or improvements in a timely, high-quality manner.

 

Summary

However you are defining your new standard for business performance, the ‘right here, right now’ demands a reinvigorated shared purpose, a clear and consistent plan and an investment in people to inspire, engage and empower them to be at their best.

 

 

Matthew Emerson is the Founder and Managing Director of Blackmore Four, an Essex based management consultancy working with leaders of ambitious businesses to achieve outstanding performance through periods of growth or significant change.

Starting his career at Ford Motor Company, Matthew has developed his expertise in Organisational Effectiveness in key senior HR, Organisational Development and Talent roles, predominantly in Financial Services (Credit Suisse, Barclays and DBS) and most recently as the Group Head of Talent and Performance at UBS AG.

Having worked in and across Asia for six years as well as having ‘global’ responsibility in a number of his roles, Matthew has an appreciation of international and multi-cultural working environments.  He also has a multi-sector perspective, having worked with organisations in Manufacturing, Healthcare, Education and Technology.

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Business

CONSUMERS IN THE COVID ERA CAN LEARN TO EMBRACE STRONG CUSTOMER AUTHENTICATION

By Ed Whitehead, Signifyd managing director, EMEA

 

The changes that COVID-19 has caused in rapid succession make it hard to slow down and think about just how to approach the retail and payments landscape and a world that will never be the same.

But it is important for retailers and financial institutions to take a breath, think about where consumers are headed and come up with a strategy to take your enterprises there in time to meet them when they arrive. Granted, all this is going on in the midst of great disruption in the world of online payments.

First, ecommerce sales have accelerated at an unprecedented rate. When the World Health Organisation in March declared a global pandemic and government began ordering non-essential stores closed, consumers turned to online shopping for necessities and nice-to-have items.

Ecommerce sales in Europe peaked at 70% year-over-year at the height of online buying during the pandemic, according to Signifyd Ecommerce Pulse data. With non-essential stores reopening and with consumers less inclined to stockpile, online buying has cooled, but ecommerce spending in September remained at double their year-ago figures in some key verticals, according to Signifyd Ecommerce Pulse data.

Ed Whitehead

That shift was unforeseen before the pandemic hit. But another disruption was long-anticipated and human-made. By the end of the year in most of Europe, merchants and banks will be required to adhere to the payment regulation known as PSD2 and it’s requirement for Strong Customer Authentication.

And while the UK has pushed enforcement of the regulations into 2021, the earlier enforcement deadline will apply to UK merchants who want to sell into the rest of Europe.

Interestingly enough, most of the worry over SCA has focused on whether merchants were ready for the change. But financial institutions also have work to do to prepare for SCA, both to serve their consumer account holders and to process transactions from their commercial customers, such as retailers. And while conventional wisdom has dictated that financial institutions are in a better position to offer SCA than are many retailers, a recent survey by Signifyd indicates that assessment might be overly sanguine.

 

Survey shows financial institutions need to reach out to customers

The September survey of 1,500 UK consumers found that 41% of respondents had encountered extra steps and complications while accessing their banking accounts in the past year. More than 37% said they had been unable to complete a financial transaction in the past year due to new security factors and 46.5% said they were very or somewhat likely to give up on a transaction that requires two-factor authentication.

Not very heartening results for institutions facing a requirement that customers be authenticated by two of three factors:

  • Something the customer has (such as device ID).
  • Something the customer knows (such as a one-time password).
  • Something the customer is (such as a fingerprint or other biometric trait).

Part of the problem could be customer education and communication — or the lack of it. According to the September survey, 74.3% of consumers said they were either not entirely sure how SCA will affect them (34.3%) or that they were not at all aware of SCA and how it will change transactions (39.1%).

These worrisome findings actually point to an opportunity for financial institutions and retailers. JP Morgan notes that with ecommerce sales rising so dramatically, an increasing number of consumers are becoming familiar with two-factor authentication.

Signifyd’s own data shows a sharp increase in the number of online shoppers who had never or rarely shopped online before. The number of new customers buying from merchants on Signifyd’s Commerce Network, for instance, more than doubled in May, compared to pre-pandemic figures. (Signifyd defines a new online shopper as a customer who has not made a purchase from the more than 10,000 merchants on its global network for at least a year.)

The increase in the number of new shoppers arriving online has slowed, but it is still well above a-year-ago figures. And about half the new users trying online shopping return for multiple purchases within 30 days, indicating they are developing new digital habits.

That means banks and merchants have an opportunity to help these new consumers become accustomed to security safeguards like SCA even as they are getting used to shopping online in general. When done right, this early consumer education will ensure that these new shoppers and bank customers will be comfortable with SCA, given that it’s the way they’ve shopped and banked online since the beginning.

 

New online customers create new opportunities for merchants and financial institutions

So, online transactions are exploding. Consumers who eschewed ecommerce shopping before are becoming regular online shoppers. All good news. But what should retailers and financial institutions be doing to take advantage of the good news — and to make sure that those new online users become loyal customers.

Getting customers comfortable with transacting in the SCA era, of course, is just the beginning. Retailers and bankers want customers to be delighted with their online experience, a standard that is a few notches above “comfort.”

SCA requirements present an opportunity for retailers to fortify their fraud protection with state-of-the-art, machine-learning systems that will provide a better customer experience today and position them to accommodate future changes to payments regulations.

The trick will be to offer a friction-free customer experience while still protecting the enterprise — a feat that will require merchants and financial institutions to look at state-of-the-art technology to power their SCA systems. Consultancy CMSPI predicted that merchants could lose £108.1 billion in annual sales because of new SCA rules.

CMSPI says the new 3D-Secure version 2.0 that provides the infrastructure for SCA transactions will kill 35% of transactions because of technical problems, declined orders and delays that frustrate customers.

But that assumes retailers don’t turn to innovative solutions that improve the performance of 3D-Secure-powered payments systems. The tools are out there as technology companies have been developing solutions to streamline SCA and make the process far more efficient.

 

Long-term steps for building loyalty among existing and new customers alike

The pandemic and its disruption feel like they will never end. But they will. Retailers will want to be in a position to build on the relationships they’ve initiated with customers before and during the lockdowns and social distancing.

Some of that will be redoubling efforts they’ve made all along. They’ll want to build flawless online experiences. They’ll want to provide intuitive navigation and enhance the customer experience with engaging content, precise personalisation, invaluable customer support, seamless checkout and instant order confirmation.

Beyond that, it will be important that financial institutions and retailers to clearly communicate with their customers so that they know the rationale for SCA and understand that it protects all parties involved in a transaction.

Automated systems can help with many of the initiatives that lead to improved customer experience. AI-powered content management systems, personalization engines and automated inventory control can advance discovery and fulfillment performance. Fraud and automated order management systems that instantly determine the most efficient way to comply with SCA requirements can speed checkout and reduce the chance of cart abandonment.

No question, the COVID-induced upheaval can make planning for the future seem a little overwhelming at times. But retailers that find the mental space to plot the future step-by-step will find themselves in a strong position today and in the post-pandemic future that we all look forward to.

 

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Business

PROTECTING THE CONNECTED CONSUMER FROM REAL AND PERCEIVED FRAUD RISK

Sam Holding, Head of International, SparkPost

 

Experts have researched and observed that when there is an economic downturn, there is often a marked increase in fraudulent activity. Unfortunately, the global financial situation caused by the spread of COVID-19 has been the perfect storm for this kind of behaviour. A quick web search on the topic brings back tons of tips sheets and articles about how consumers can keep themselves safe during such a turbulent economic crisis. While these resources suggest that consumers take simple steps like ignoring robocalls and watching out for phishing emails, the amount of channels through which scammers can take action can feel overwhelming. Due to the increasingly interconnected nature of technology, an attack on one website or communication channel can lead to what feels like a domino effect – taking down a consumer’s personal “stack” one by one.

 

The nature of this interconnectedness has given rise to the “Connected Consumer”. This consumer persona represents the vast swathe of people who have smartphones and have not only grown accustomed to ultra-personalised digital experiences but, as a result, expect these types of dynamic solutions. It should also be noted that this is not specifically a Millenial or Gen Z phenomenon, but rather a trans-generational disposition for easy-to-use technology. While the Connected Consumer isn’t necessarily at a higher risk for fraudulent attacks because of how they interact with technology, the stakes definitely feel higher. Because they may use their Facebook or Gmail credentials to login to countless websites and apps, a single fraud attack can feel like a chink in the armor that protects their whole digital footprint.

 

Sam Holding

With the rise of the Connected Consumer, it’s likely no surprise that there is an incredibly high app adoption rate amongst financial services customers. While people may be quick to download retail banking apps, due to their broader online experiences, they expect a highly personalised experience – something the financial services industry hasn’t always been able to give. In an industry known for stringent security and privacy controls and conservative decision-making, adoption of the latest and greatest segmentation and personalisation technologies hasn’t always been possible. But anecdotally as users, we know that an outdated app experience is not only frustrating but may also lead to concerns about security. If the front-end looks antiquated, what’s to keep non-technical consumers from assuming what’s under the hood is old and lacking up-to-date security measures?

 

The, perhaps superficial, perceived threat around slightly outdated app experiences and the very real threat of fraud requires a multi-pronged course of action to keep Connected Consumers feeling safe. Fortunately, many of the steps required are actually low hanging fruit that don’t require technologists and security professionals to completely change their normal course of action. The best place for financial services companies to start is with their email programs. Since email is the backbone of customer communications when it comes to financial institutions, no amount of attention to detail and care is too great when considering new strategies.

 

The first updated strategy that can keep Connected Consumers feeling safe is applying a mobile-first attitude when sending email messages. This can be applied to the look and feel of the actual email template, but should also be applied to the links in messages as well. Hyperlinks in the body of emails should “deep link” back to the banking institution’s mobile app rather than their desktop site. For Connected Consumers, these deep links show that their bank’s email strategies are in lock-step with their app. And, rather than having to fumble through a website that may not be mobile friendly, consumers can use their thumb print or even their face to access sensitive financial information instantly. Quick and even topical changes like this can show consumers that their information is safe by using the security measures built into their phone.

 

Another easy change financial institutions can focus on to create a more streamlined and, therefore, more secure-feeling experience is improved customer service. Certainly, it’s important for support agents to be friendly and helpful, but in 2020 they should also be fully aware of all of the personalised email messages the specific customer they are trying to help has received. Keeping support teams abreast of the latest email marketing campaigns can close the loop on security regarding customer communications. If a customer has a question regarding an email offer they received, the support agent can authoritatively reassure the customer that the message is, in fact, valid. This creates an unparalleled sense of security.

 

When it comes to security, especially during a time in which fraud is increasing, retail banks can’t take any chances. Connected Consumers need their banks to provide digital experiences that not only are secure but feel secure, a challenge that may be easier to meet than most think. With a few simple changes, financial services organisations can keep consumers feeling safe and stable even when the world feels completely off-kilter.

 

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