Banking has undergone a very important transformation over the last twenty years, mainly in connection with the way banks relate to their customers, says the president of Bancolombia, Carlos Raul Yepes.
Bancolombia is Colombia's biggest bank and came in at No. 19 in Latin Trade's regional ranking. Yepes, meanwhile, is surprisingly young for a post typically held by executives of 50 years or older. But he knows recent banking history backwards and he has no doubt as to the transformations his sector has undergone.
At the beginning of the 90s, he says, banks offered basic services and tried to build a transactional banking operation. At about that time, telephone and digital channels were introduced to complement the work of branches. Later, the emphasis shifted to full-service banking, or financial supermarkets.
The use of technologies like Customer Relationship Management programs (CRMs) made it possible to personalize financial offerings and hone in on the needs of each customer, making the bank more relational, he said.
During the last few years the banks' business model has focused on making access to the bank easier.
"We were looking for what was convenient for the customers anytime and any place," he said. He characterized this period as more relational still, because customers' experience improved substantially, thanks to increased use of mobile, digital and telephone channels, in supermarkets and in non-bank outlets.
Yepes indicated that advances in banking have also served nations, because they promoted improvements in other key areas.
In the 80s, with the introduction of electronic banking, many telecommunications problems were also solved, such as incompatibilities between hardware and software, as well as legal vacuums. In the 90s, online banking helped highlight and solve other problems related to personnel qualifications, as well as security issues tied up in legal loopholes. Finally, starting in 2000, the so-called Generation C (connected consumers) arrived on the scene. Their arrival...