Monthly Archives: February 2015

Category: Business Continuity

Surviving this Record-Breaking Winter

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Snow removal at Crown Colony headquarters

Everyone has their own strategy for surviving a winter storm. Many people brave long lines at the grocery and hardware stores. Homeowners fuel up their snow blowers and locate their shovels. And we all make sure we have TV shows to binge watch during long days stuck at home.

At Boston Financial, storm preparation looks a little bit different. This winter has brought a number of weather events and a record-breaking amount of snow to the Northeast. In the Boston area we have had heavy snow, hurricane-force winds, coastal flooding, travel bans and states of emergency to contend with on several occasions.

Leading up to each event, as well as during each event, our goal is to work closely with our clients and maintain business as usual. We provide them with timely, meaningful and proactive updates.

One component of our business contingency plan is performing critical work for clients on a daily basis in multiple sites. This prepares staff in one site to handle work if another site is not operating at full capacity. Our flex schedule model in the core processing operations areas provides us optimum flexibility in terms of resources planning and allocation. During one event this season, media outlets were predicting the imminent closing of the markets. We had already included that as a possible scenario in our planning, and were ready to act accordingly. The markets never closed; however, we were poised to mobilize our “playbook” if they had.

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Facilities command center

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Photo taken by Boston Financial’s Tim Barry and featured on local news

We have a tremendous pool of talented resources, always willing to ensure things get done for our clients, even in the face of adversity. At the same time, the safety of our associates is a primary concern for us. Based on job responsibilities, Boston Financial provides different options for them to work during weather events, while maintaining personal safety. Our alternate site procedures allow individuals to travel to a closer Boston Financial facility for a shorter commute. During travel bans, a group of critical associates is often asked to “shelter-in-place” or stay at a nearby hotel with transportation provided to and from the office. We also arrange with our cafeteria vendor to have food available for associates who have to spend extended time in the office.

Other associates, as appropriate, are able to work from home during weather events via secured system access that enables them to achieve the same level of productivity remotely as they would in the office. All this detailed, advanced coordination helps make things a little easier for associates despite the gravity of the storm.

As with any unplanned event, a level of uniqueness exists. At the same time, each event provides us an opportunity to improve. While we have all certainly had enough of winter already, the bright side is that this season has given us plenty of opportunities to fine-tune how we respond to storms and focus on enhancing our business contingency plans.

Category: E-Business, Technology

The Customer Experience

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customer-experienceWe hear about it all of the time throughout the corporate hallways, “we need to focus on the customer experience…”  What does that mean and why does it matter?

Well, in short, it does matter and it drives much of where money is being spent by companies across all retail-focused industries in 2015. What’s behind the big push has many different factors.

The background is that core consumer expectations and the customer experience drive brand perception and business. When things like price increases happen, it’s the customer experience that may keep someone loyal to a brand. That is paramount to why the overall customer experience and being in touch with customer expectations is so important today.

In the past, companies only had to worry about the experience via direct mail and their 800 numbers.  We’ve since introduced IVR systems, websites, digital marketing, mobile apps, social media, in-store experience, and all combinations thereof into the mix. In addition, we now have a larger demographic to serve, each with their own unique way of interacting with our companies. If you look at the adoption speed of some of the newest ways to interact, it’s understandable that many firms are having difficulty keeping up.

We all remember a uniquely positive experience we’ve had, either with a retailer or restaurant.  Based on that experience, we set the bar and judge subsequent experiences as just average, or worse. With multiple mediums and different experiences possible in each, it’s very hard to be on top of your game at all times.

So, how do you stay on top of the customer experience in a meaningful way? Here are some high level tips to think about:

  1. Mobile Isn’t Optional and Account for the Touch: Mobile and tablet experiences influence expectations and perception. You need to ensure that those visiting your websites and using your apps have the best experience possible. Sites that force awkward scrolling or pinching to zoom into elements influence the overall brand perception and perceived ease of use.
  2. Keep Up, Make It Easy, and Don’t Waste My Time—Across All Channels: Simply put, you need to ensure that you are keeping up with the Jones’ both within and outside of your industry. Functionality should be available via phone, online and offline channels. It should be easy to use, and you should not be presenting information that isn’t relevant to the specific customer. We have all heard horror stories around how a seemingly simple task can take hours to complete. The beauty of social media is that these stories are now shared in record time and force companies to backpeddle in real time.
  3. Communicate Via Meaningful Channels: Know your customer, and know what channels are relevant to them. Have they actually opened and read your e-mails in the past? Have they responded to a mailed letter? Do they visit your website often? If you don’t know, you are already behind in providing them relevant, useful information and services in the medium that they use the most. Don’t stereotype or generalize (“older people don’t go online…”), but use the data you have and know.
  4. Be Proactive- In the Right Medium: Everyone loves the fact that Google Now will take some educated guesses and be proactive with suggestions of directions, content, news, and alerts as it sees fit. And for the most part, it does a very good job of predicting what you may want to see. You have plenty of data about your customers and what they do, buy, see, etc. Use it, be proactive, and use the right medium (from #3 above), and you will be off to a great start!
  5. Don’t Forget Any Medium: While the web and mobile may drive a lot of spending, recent studies show that all channels are equally as important. In recent studies, 60% of millennials said that they expect a consistent experience across online, in-store, or via phone, but they also want the ability to interact via any of the mediums if they choose. Don’t lose your focus and drift off into the Internet while your other channels fall behind.

Hopefully this has given you some things to think about relating to the customer experience. It’s more important and complex than ever, but that’s the fun part!

I will be speaking with my colleague, Madeline FitzGerald, about the customer experience, expectations, and influence on brand perception at the DST Advance conference this week and welcome your comments, thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

Category: Social Media, Technology

The Value of a Social Intranet – One Year Later

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community---181492494It’s been almost a year since we introduced you to Boston Financial’s social Intranet, The Hub, here on Perspectives. In that time we have seen extraordinary growth of the platform and adoption within our associate community. We’ve moved all of our corporate communications to The Hub, eliminating email as the primary delivery method for information; we’ve launched new communities that integrate daily business processes into the platform; we’ve increased executive participation; and we’ve enabled associates to engage in the platform’s self-service capabilities.

In case you missed the series last year, take a look back on why we launched a social intranet, the technology behind it, and how it is transforming the way we communicate and collaborate as an organization.

The Value of a Social Intranet

Is Your Corporate Intranet Stuck in the Past?

Problems Well Defined are Problems Half Solved

Managing Relationships in a Social World

Are you using a social Intranet at your organization? Leave a comment to tell us your success stories and share your challenges too!