“I would say that we have huge potential, especially in this area in recognising metadata and using that correctly to remove manual work, both in the digital and paper flows — we can optimise a lot. In archiving as well, instead of having a physical one, we are moving to have a digital archive.
We have many different suppliers involved. But my team is using a tool called IPA — Interactive Process Automation — which is the same tool that we use for all our inbound and outbound calls. In the future, we will use this tool to control all of our automated processes.”
Insightive.tv: What is the scope and role of digitisation at Ikano Bank?
Michael: It’s different from country to country. We still have countries where you need to do it by pen and paper, and we have countries where you can do it digitally. In my territory, we are only looking at the IP path, and we will use that to recognise the contract coming in, and send them to the right inboxes where other third party solutions are used for recognising words or archiving and so on. But we have different solutions for different countries.
We see huge opportunity to expand both electronic identification and e-signatures. But currently, we have check questions. So it is still a manual process at the moment.
I think that in our company, with our use of different systems in different countries, it’s difficult for us to maintain one standard that we can use throughout — that ultimately slows us down implementing improvements, and changing that overarching system would be a timely process in and of itself.
The Head of Digital would be the person looking into that kind of global change. In operations we have IPA, which we are using to handle all of our customers, and we are archiving them. That was decided 2-3 years ago, and we are looking to implement this system in all countries.
Insightive.tv: What are the biggest challenges you see moving forward?
Michael: The integration with our other systems is a major challenge.
It’s the different systems in different countries. And, on top of that, we don’t have a lot of volume in some countries. So there can be a lot of costs to doing it without a dramatic benefit. We have a lot of IT projects going on, so there is competition for funding.
Legal enforceability is also a concern. But we have our legal department involved, looking at solutions being used in each country. In the IPA process that I have overseen, we have legal involved every time we make a change.
One of our other challenges is that up to 50% of the customers that contact us have not sent the correct information. So we need to go back to them and ask them — what is your social security number? This is actually an area where digitisation will help a lot. Putting all of the intelligence through an automated system that the customers need to fill out, is where we see a lot of benefit to the customers, but also operations — and therefore saves us a lot of money.
Insightive.tv: What other benefits do you see to further digitisation?
Michael: We definitely want to reduce the handling time of all our contracts — make them faster and easier for both the customer and us. This kind of change will allow us to offer lower prices, which benefits the customer, but also makes us more competitive. This will also allow us to use some of our resources in customer areas centres to help customers to utilise more products.
I have done this kind of work before in a mobile company. And we saw a lot of benefits. One of the things we are achieving at Ikano is the ability to add a lot of new customers, with much more dedication, with similar amounts of resources. And a big part of that comes from the efficacy of further digitisation. We have a better overview when it’s digital, and that allows us to focus more heavily on the front end, and on the customers’ end of the process.
Insightive.tv: How do you see things changing over the next few years, and what do you identify as the major drivers of that change?
Michael: As people go more and more into the mobile area, and voice recognition becomes a more viable technology in different systems, these will become more present in our business model. In my area, we are looking at the ability to fill out contracts via voice as a development for the future.
External factors, such as competition, customer expectations and compliance pressure are significant for us and are part of the reason that we are focusing on this area a lot. We are trying our best to follow up with this. But, as I said, our problem here is that we use so many different systems in different countries. This means that every time we build a new solution we need to build it in a new way in different countries.
I think digitisation can have a very high impact on customer conversion. It will also allow us to improve the customer experience and more easily meet compliance standards. But decreased costs might be the largest driver towards digitisation. This is also because, as I said, it opens up possibilities to redirect resources across the business and can help us improve the customer experience while expanding Ikano in a variety of ways.
We sat down with Michael Koch, Head of Operations Services at Ikano Bank, to discuss the role digital contracts have played in the success of Ikano.
Ikano Bank is a Swedish company established by the founder of IKEA to provide in-house financial services. Still owned by the Kamprad family, they have traded as an independent group since 1988, and merged with other entities — now operating in 14 countries across Europe and Asia. The IKANO Group now manages companies dealing with financial services, real estate, insurance and retail. The Bank offers loans, savings accounts and still supplies financial solution for IKEA, along with other large retailers.
Part of THE DIGITAL FUTURE OF CUSTOMER CONTRACTING series