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FSI Blog Series, Part IV: Staying Agile in Trying Times

Post Author: Joe D365 |

Welcome to the final installment of our four-part blog series exploring the partnership that exists between HCL-PowerObjects, Microsoft, and Seismic – the world’s most powerful storytelling platform. As we’ve said many times now, our three businesses together provide a unique set of partnership benefits for our customers that includes execution deployment, data analytics, and customized content.

Our blog series has been focused on the power of this triumvirate through the lens of the Financial Services Industry (FSI). Our first installment was devoted to Digital Selling, the second post explored Sales and Marketing Collaboration, and last week’s third installment focused on the value of personalizing customer messaging in the FSI channel. In today’s post, we’re looking at the importance of staying agile. Enjoy!      

Embrace Change by Staying Agile

In the Financial Services Industry (FSI), Agile means a couple of different things depending on who you’re talking to. The Agile project management methodology is a software development process in which solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customers. Generally speaking, any given project is managed via either the traditional waterfall process or the Agile methodology. Note: this is not the type of Agile we’re writing about today.

The other meaning of agile comes from the dictionary: active, lithe, lively, well-coordinated, and nimble. The partnership between HCL-PowerObjects, Seismic, and Microsoft is built on this version of agile – especially during a worldwide pandemic that has literally revolutionized several aspects of the FSI channel, including customer service delivery. With that in mind, let’s explore the idea of being agile and remaining nimble as everything around us changes. 

Expectations During the Pandemic

Life during COVID-19: when everything is different, but nothing has changed. How is that possible? Well, consider this:

In many locations around the globe, restaurants are limited to 50% capacity, professional sports are being played in near-empty stadiums, and you need an appointment to renew your driver’s license. When feasible, businesses have their employees working from home – and that even includes call centers. When you call your bank’s toll-free number, there’s a good chance you’re talking to someone who’s sitting in the spare bedroom at their house!

At the same time, we all expect the same (and even better!) excellent customer service we were demanding pre-pandemic. On a cognitive level, we must understand that since our own lives and jobs have been affected, it stands to reason that everyone else’s have been affected, as well, so it would seem fair to collectively temper our expectations.  But at the same time, most of us seem unwilling or unable to accept the fact that service across all industries – and FSI is certainly no exception – is going to be different.

The irony is that it may be the very fact that our own professional lives have been so compromised that – as our only source of escape – we demand that the professional service we get from others not be compromised at all. Maybe it’s the only way to feel like we still have some control.  

Whatever the explanation, the bottom line is that yes, the more things have changed, the more they’ve stayed the same. Sure, life is different, but our collective expectation for excellent customer service hasn’t changed a bit.

Survive the Pandemic with Nimble Business Processes

Now, If you’ve ever worked in a financial services call center, you know how critical it is to be nimble. For instance, while annual compliance training is mandatory and therefore teams of customer service reps may be scheduled off the phone to attend – but the customer is king, so if call volumes spike, the training is canceled and it’s all hands on deck. Being nimble is certainly nothing new.

What is new is precisely how far-reaching the need to be agile and nimble is during a global pandemic. We’re seeing a pandemic paradox play out that is crippling many smaller FSI organizations: customer needs are at an all-time high at precisely the same time that many businesses’ ability to provide excellent service is being tested more than ever. And for that reason, it is critical to solve issues quickly and eliminate steps to simplify processes.

It’s one thing (and honestly it is the bare minimum) to slap the “Our COVID-19 Response” message on your company’s website. With literally everyone doing so, it’s hardly a differentiator. No, nimble during a pandemic means thinking outside the box to come up with creative solutions to new problems. Tap into your employees’ “other” skills. Can your marketing automation specialist who used to work in a call center take customer calls during call volume spikes? Can your branch manager who used to be a teller run the drive-through window when workers are out sick?

Remaining agile – the ability to nimbly adjust to what your employees (and your customers!) are doing – is the key to success right now. When we’re not in a pandemic, the business-as-usual approach may be OK – when it takes six months, 10 resources, and 25 meetings to automate a single repetitive process. Now is the time to employ Microsoft technology, for instance, to develop low-code apps and flows to simply get things done. Indeed, 2021 is the year to unleash the Seismic approach of combining the power of technology with the power of human connection and emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient than ever. When other banks, firms, and carriers are falling by the wayside, perhaps today is the day to engage PowerObjects for a digital transformation.

The point? FSI businesses have always needed to be nimble, but now they must be nimbler than ever. Seize the opportunity this pandemic offers to become a standout FSI organization and to think outside the box from a technology perspective. Everyone in the financial services channel is facing the same obstacles – and the most successful organizations are rising to the challenge. Don’t be left behind.

You may feel like the middle of a worldwide health crisis is hardly the time rethink your approach to customer service. Perhaps your instinct says, “let’s just get through this and when it’s all over we can make changes based on what we learned”. We get it – that’s a fair approach. On the other hand, as we’ve tried to illustrate, now might just be exactly the very best time to act, especially if you want to differentiate your Financial Services organization by actually improving your customer service delivery during this crisis when your competition is struggling just to maintain the status quo.


And this concludes our 4-part blog series exploring the HCL-PowerObjects/Microsoft/Seismic partnership. We focused on the power of this triumvirate through an FSI lens, including relevant topics like digital selling, collaboration between sales and marketing, personalizing customer messaging, and keeping your business agile during trying times. On this last topic, Seismic has a great resource – Embracing Change: How Businesses Thrive in Disruptive Times. Check it out.

Thanks for tuning in… it’s been a pleasure to lead you on this FSI journey. Let us know your thoughts on this partner-to-partner-to-partner blog series!

By Joe D365
Joe D365 is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 superhero who runs on pure Dynamics adrenaline. As the face of PowerObjects, Joe D365’s mission is to reveal innovative ways to use Dynamics 365 and bring the application to more businesses and organizations around the world.

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