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FS companies test ‘crowdsourcing’ 

By Jeff Poole, Principal Advisor, Advisory, KPMG in the UK and Matt Sevenoaks, Crowd Connection – Crowdsourcing Advisory, KPMG in the UK

Innovation-minded financial services companies are testing the waters of ‘crowdsourcing,’ to better understand their customers’ deepest wants and needs. This new twist on market research – which meshes online collaboration tools with social media – could help organizations polish their brands, launch tailored products and transform their processes.

crowdsourcing: deeper customer insights


To differentiate themselves from competitors old and new, and bolster customer loyalty, financial services companies around the world are rethinking their brands, products, and delivery models. To do so, a number of leading providers are exploring the emerging research technique of crowdsourcing, to improve the quality of their market intelligence, and tap into the ‘voice of their customer.’

A recent phenomenon, crowdsourcing applies social media tactics – like online polling or discussion groups – making it possible to engage in an ongoing dialogue with targeted customers, employees and other key stakeholders to gather deeper, and potentially innovative, market insights and ideas. This helps an organization develop or fine-tune products, programs or processes. In its simplest form, crowdsourcing updates the classic focus group for the digital era; enabling marketers and innovation leaders to collaborate with online communities of hundreds or hundreds of thousands.

Unlike those very visible, open social media campaigns often seen on Facebook, a crowdsourcing program enables you to build a closed, controlled community, in which you might invite your most valued customers, opinion leaders or influencers, – also known as ‘prosumers’ – to register and take part in a single or ongoing conversation.

The benefits of crowdsourcing can include:

  • Increasing the capacity and breadth of your market research, while reducing cost and time to market;
  • Combining qualitative and quantitative data, with quicker turn-around and analysis.;
  • Obtaining deeper customer insights, to tackle organizational challenges, resolve service gaps, or discover new revenue opportunities;
  • Lowering the risks of product development, by involving your most valued stakeholders; and
  • Increasing customer loyalty, through collaboration and regular conversation.

Although consumer product retailers and manufacturers were among the fastest to embrace crowdsourcing, the financial sector is eagerly testing the waters and creating ‘managed communities’ to gather fresh market intelligence. Among them, a Singapore bank applied crowdsourcing to involve its generation Y clients in new branch design, a German insurance company invited clients to create and evaluate insurance options, while an Australian bank encourages customers to post, vote on and discuss new product ideas.

There are also opportunities to use crowdsourcing to engage corporate and commercial banking clients, or to help financial firms comply with new regulations that demand greater public consultation and community engagement – such as the renewed and proactive conduct risk agenda being pursued by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Since KPMG in the UK formed an alliance with Chaordix Inc., it has combined Chaordix’s Crowd Intelligence™ methodology with KPMG’s subject matter expertise to consult clients on crowdsourcing strategies to address key business challenges. In this time, we have observed a variety of best practices that contribute to project success:

  • Ensure executive sponsorship for any crowdsourcing initiative;
  • Carefully design program set-up and management; ideally embedded in an organization’s existing business functions (e.g. customer insights, marketing, sales, operations and human resources).;
  • Clearly define purpose, goals, participants, incentives, promotion and management of any crowdsourcing program;
  • Keep it simple in the early stages, and accept the likely hits and misses on the path to achieving ROI; and
  • Follow-through, by delivering actions or implementing solutions, to show commitment, and build credibility, with your fledgling crowdsourcing community.

By pursuing crowdsourcing as the natural evolution of traditional market research, innovation-minded financial services companies can tap into their customers’ deepest insights, and put them at the heart of critical brand building, product design and process improvement strategies.

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