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Part I New Rules: The Drivers of Future-Viable Banking

1: Customers: Unknown Entities!

In order to analyse the importance of the change from a seller's to a buyer's market, it is necessary to understand the guidelines of customer behaviour in the digital age. The danger here is that the experiences of the past may be perpetuated. But even where it is possible to approach the customer in an innovative manner, there is still no guarantee that future-viable solutions will emerge. Customers cannot be expected to know in advance the innovative solutions to their needs. All that people wished for prior to the invention of the automobile were faster horses; before the introduction of the PC they sought more flexible data processing, and before the advent of the iPhone the integrated use of all data. This chapter outlines the trends that influence customers (see Sect. 1.1) and the “blunders” intrinsic to the development of a modern understanding of the customer (see Sect. 1.2).

1.1 Introduction: Understanding Customers and Their Transformation

Correctly understanding future customer behaviour and customer needs is an important prerequisite for the successful strategic orientation of a bank. Frequently, customer behaviour that has already experienced fundamental change is mistaken for a temporary trend.

During the period of sales orientation in the sellers' markets, the finance industry focussed on competitor analysis. Customers were informed to a much lesser degree, and their demands were therefore also fewer, as they were unaware of their options for action. In the digital age, in contrast, informed customers are increasingly less prepared to accept this sales logic. The transformed customer behaviour results from an abundance of sociocultural trends as well as their interaction with and among each other. Some of these sociocultural trends, which have already influenced sustainably customer behaviour in banking and indeed continue to do so, will be presented below. The list serves merely as an example and is not comprehensive[1]:

Mobile Internet and Digitalisation Growing mobile interconnectedness is constantly adopting new forms and penetrates all areas of private and professional life.

Individualisation This is the progressive process from outside influence to the self-determination of the individual. With regard to economic topics, this represents the manifold possibilities for individual decisions, for example in terms of lifestyle, consumption or use of media.

Education The transition from the industrial society to the creative and knowledge society has transformed creativity and knowledge into key resources. At the same time, society's collective level of education has grown significantly.

New Forms of Work New flexible, mobile and project-oriented forms of work have softened rigid job descriptions and types of occupation.

Trend research and future studies can help us to understand the customer better by focussing on the future. By these means it is also possible to identify potential thought traps that result from the perpetuation of existing explanatory patterns.

  • [1] It is certainly the case that many of the sociocultural trends listed can be described sensibly in another context and in a different time framework as megatrends, consumption trends, technology trends, etc. For an overview of sociocultural trends see e.g., Trend Report (2012)
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